Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Church Out or Government Out?

Of the marriage business that is.

The more I think about this debate that seemingly will never go away (see previous post) the more I wonder if maybe a more wholesale change is needed.

Maybe we need to complete change the language of couplehood and the law. Take the church right out of the legal aspect, and make marriage a solely religious term. THe only legal term would be civil union and it would apply to any two persons wishing to aspire to that status and would only be available from JPs or marriage commissioners--clergy would not be eligible. Marriage would then be a religious rite (or sacrament) bound not by the law of the land but by the theology and polity of the faith community--and would be available regardless of whether or not the couple in question seeks the legal bond of civil union.

It is an idea that has its attractions. It would get the churches out of being agents of the state and back into the business of blessing relationships. And it would do a better job at shoring up the "sanctity of marriage" than arguments about legalities. And it would also call the bluff of all those opponents of same-sex marriage who insist that their problem is with the use of the word marriage, not with the coupling itself.

The only problem is that I honestly believe that "4-wheel-theology" (stroller, wedding car, hearse) is a great outreach ministry of the church. ANd we might lose that if clergy could only bless relationships without doing the legal joining part as well.


  1. I've been saying something similar for a while now, but as a Congregationalist type, I just want the couple to come to church on Sunday morning and be blessed as part of the service. How well would *that* go over? It certainly would undercut the outreach you describe. But is it our job to provide chapel services for anybody who wants them? I'm not sure where the Good News is in that.

  2. I think this is a great idea and at the moment I can't come up with a negative... huh. I might try it out on a "naysayer"