David Dunn recently wrote an incredibly insightful post about gay marriage and how many Christians are calling on the government to help us protect the “sanctity of marriage.” He says in his article that doing is basically making an idol of the state. I couldn’t agree more! Here is an excerpt from the article he wrote:
New York’s recent legalization of gay marriage is being hailed by many as a watershed moment in the history of the fight for equal rights for same sex couples. Whatever the long-term consequences of this decision may be, chances are, in the near term, it will be met with increased opposition from Christian conservatives. Their efforts, which reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of marriage, are misguided at best and sinful at worst. There will always be Christians who oppose “homosexuality” on moral grounds, but enlisting the state to protect “the sanctity of marriage” is a mistake. Such efforts demonstrate a fundamental – even idolatrous – misunderstanding of the meaning of “holy matrimony,” effectively denying Christ by vesting the state with divine authority.
California’s infamous Proposition 8 and similar measures sure to make it onto the ballots during next year’s election fall prey to the so-called Constantinian temptation. When Constantine legalized Christianity in the early fourth century, some began to see an almost godlike authority in the state. An increasing number of Christians found it difficult to tell the difference between the things that belong to Caesar and the things that belong to God.
Yet, despite their confusion, those earlier Christians generally knew there was a difference between God and the state, even if they could not always tell where it was. Our sin is worse. Today’s Christian conservatives seem to be worshiping America, or at least a certain idea of it, when they ask the government to protect the “sanctity” of marriage. In doing this, they have vested the state with the power to sanctify.
…Anyone who thinks marriage is something sacred needs to recognize that from the church’s perspective all marriages granted by the state for tax and inheritance purposes are just civil unions by another name. Christians who truly believe that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman are welcome to their belief. But Christians who demand the state take up the task of defending marital sanctity are effectively making the state their god. They seem to think that their local capitol can perform miracles when only the Holy Spirit has the power to sanctify.
If marriage truly is a sacrament, as many Christians (including myself) believe, then we need to be much more concerned with developing a robust theology of marriage and making that understood among our congregations than with mobilizing them to deny the right of a civil marriage to same-sexed partners. If we believe marriage is a sacrament, then all marriages performed outside the church are civil marriages, and however the state defines marriage can have absolutely no bearing on its sanctity as far as the church is concerned
…Calling upon the state to protect our sacrament is an act of extreme unfaithfulness. Only God can make a marriage holy. Christians can continue to fight about what kinds of marriages “count” as sacred, but we have also learned to agree to disagree about such things. In polite company, and for the sake of keeping peace with each other (because mutual apostasies take so much effort), we can do with marriage what we do with our disagreements about eucharist and baptism: keep our mouths shut and let God sort it out in the end.
If you want to read the rest of this article on gay marriage, you can do so here. Eastern Orthodox Gay Marriage