Yes, Let’s Keep Government Out of Marriage

By: Erick Erickson

Last week , we spent a lot of time focusing on politics from a faith perspective because it was Holy Week.  Throughout the week, many people who support gay marriage lambasted me and others that Christians were just trying to use government to legislate marriage or morality.

But I agree that we should keep the government out of marriage.

Last I checked, George and Martha Washington did not get remarried after 1776 when the United States declared independence from Great Britain.  Nor did they do so after 1789, when the constitution was enacted.

In fact, not one of the founding fathers married prior to 1776 remarried the same person after the United States was formed.

Government did not create marriage.  The only laws on the books related to marriage are state and federal laws that recognize the marriage structure that previously existed before the government itself was established.

To be sure, over time those marriages have changed by law.  The age of consent and the ability to contract have changed and impacted marriage, but the structure and operation of marriage were still the same.

The most significant changes in the law regarding marriage have been on how to end a marriage, not how to begin a marriage or what constitutes a marriage.

But marriage pre-existed the state and Christianity.

What’s happening now is that gay marriage advocates are attempting to use the state to change marriage.  When they accuse Christians of trying to use the state to legislate their version of marriage, they are full of crap.  All Christians are doing is defending an institution that already exists from being changed to something is has never been.

It is the gay marriage advocates who wants to use force, by the power of the state, to change a pre-existing institution .  If the state has the power to change the definition of an institution that it did not create, the state can force everyone to do so.  It is already happening in this country at the state level.

While I doubt it, marriage may include gays one day.  But the time is not this year.  The laws enacted cross the country to preserve the status quo are just that — to keep the state, via the courts or legislature from changing an institution neither the courts nor legislatures of the several states created, but chose to recognize.

Let’s be clear here — you can support gay marriage, but don’t tell me Christians are trying to legislate their version of marriage.  The only people trying to legislate, from the bench or otherwise, are gay rights advocates who refuse to let the institution naturally evolve because of their own impatience for the trappings of normalcy in a society that has long viewed them as outside the mainstream.

That the loudest proponents of gay marriage advocates cannot even be honest in what’s going on. This loudly suggests they are not being honest when they say they’re cool with conscientious objectors to the whole idea.  Consider, for example, this blog post from the Cato Institute entitled, “We Support Gay Marriage but Oppose Forcing People to Support It.”

They filed an amicus brief in support of Elane Photography, which was punished in New Mexico for refusing to provide services to a gay wedding.  Cato bases its defense on photography being protected by the first amendment.  But note this:

Our brief explains that photography is an art form protected by the First Amendment because clients seek out the photographer’s method of staging, posing, lighting, and editing.  Photography is thus a form of expression subject to the First Amendment’s protection, unlike many other wedding-related businesses (e.g., caterers, hotels, limousine drivers).

So if you are a Christian caterer, bed and breakfast, etc. too bad.  You will be forced to provide services to a gay wedding.  You will be made to by the power of the state.  That’s where we are headed.  If the state has the power to change the definition of an institution it did not create, the state can compel your services to that institution.

So yes, let’s keep the government out of marriage.

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