Marriage is not a fundamental right, nor is it a government institution. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman that is supposed to represent an unbreakable union. The vows spoken before the altar are meant to be a verbal contract between man and wife. It is a promise that regardless of financial difficulties or changes in health status, “til death do us part.”
The Supreme Court of the United States of America in 2015 has redefined at least part of that definition, but the institution of marriage was destroyed long before that.
Divorce is a common occurrence. Half of all marriages, even those held by Christians, end in the courts—and even more end in the heart. We have seen a 30% in the number of marriages over the past 45 years, yet the divorce rate keeps climbing. There used to be respectable reasons, such as abuse, infidelity, or mental abuse problems. However, now a couple can divorce simply for “falling out of love” with one another. Interestingly enough, the global divorce rate for arranged marriages is around 6.3%.
I believe one reason for this trend is because marriage is no longer about love. Marriage has become a legal contract that enables a couple to enjoy tax benefits and share health insurance plans. More often than not, the strength of the relationship is measured like an economic project. There is a cost-benefit analysis, and if the costs outweigh the benefits, divorce papers are drawn up. The stated goal of the gay marriage movement is to allow gay couples the same legal status as straight couples. There are no laws prohibiting two men from falling in love, having intimate relations with one another, living together, or even adopting children. So the long court battle that was just settled in the Supreme Court has never been about “love”, but benefits.
Another reason is that we have devalued the “my word is my bond” ethic in our society. A verbal contract used to mean as much as a written one. Banks used to lend money based on a handshake. Because we have become so depraved, our words have become meaningless. This has leaked into the cracks in every facet of our lives. We have lost trust in the media, in our politicians, in our pulpits, religions, and God himself. Is it no surprise, then, that we have lost trust in our marriages?
We promise to remain together through sickness, but mental health issues lead to divorce. We are to stay married through financial hardships, yet money is the number one cause of divorce. We promise to be sexually active only with our spouses, but infidelity websites like ashleymadison.com have become more popular than ever. We are to “love and cherish” one another, but married couples are constantly falling “out of love” and split up. Our words have become meaningless as lies become the norm and definitions are constantly being redefined.
Rather than being upset about the prospect of a failing institution being further assaulted, we should concern ourselves with the bigger picture.
The government has its hands in marriage, and now it will have its hands on the throat of religious institutions. There have already been several stories of bakers and florists being successfully sued for not wanting to participate in gay weddings. I, and many others, believe that the government will now work with the courts in attacking the tax-exempt status of churches who refuse to conduct same-sex ceremonies. Now that the supreme law of the land is that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, discrimination laws will be used on anyone who opposes it. We know this, because the gay rights movement is moving parallel with the black Civil Rights movement. There have already been comparisons between gay marriage and interracial marriage, so it does not take a big leap to see that just as a church cannot refuse a white man marrying a black woman, they will no longer be able to refuse a gay man marrying a gay man. Bob Jones University lost its tax status by refusing to allow interracial couples on their campus back in the 1980s. All non-profits will suffer the same fate with same-sex couples.
So what can we do about any of this? On legal grounds, not much. I would love to see the federal government pull out of the marriage business and offer “civil union” contracts between any couple who seek long-term legal benefits. These unions can be applied for by married couples, gay couples, or any cohabiting couple including siblings and friends. Marriage can then return to the religious institution it belongs to, and the government can dole out tax benefits to whomever they wish. This is the true separation of church and state.
Otherwise, my suggestion is to understand that our churches may become privatized, tax paying, non-charitable places of worship. We must also turn to God and try and improve our own lives. Rather than complain about gay marriage, pay attention to our own. Renew our vows, and stick to them. Make our words our bonds. Restore trust in each other, and love one another. We need each other now more than ever, and God’s will shall be done. The Supreme Court decision may seem overwhelming, but it is a mere inconvenience for the Faithful. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, but be aware of our political system and world events. Most of all, do not give up.