Thursday, September 17, 2015
Wrong to Issue Marriage Licenses in These Cases as Well
With all of this talk about gay marriage and the issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples, it’s got me to thinking even more about marriage licenses. Not only should whole concept of marriage license be offensive to a Christian, but it also puts county clerks and justices of the peace in a precarious position if they are true Christians. There shouldn’t be any law or judicial precedent requiring the government to issue licenses to gay couples. Maybe a state could get away with not having gay marriage if they didn’t issue licenses at all.
But what about other instances in which a marriage is unbiblical? Take for instance, if a Christian marries a non-Christian (I Corinthians 7:39, II Corinthians 6:14). Or for example, what if a man marries a divorced woman (Matthew 5:31-32, Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:2-3, I Corinthians 7:10-11, 39) or a man remarries after having divorced his wife for some reason other than (her) fornication (Matthew 19:9)? Shouldn’t the same governing officials have a crisis of conscience in these cases? Shouldn’t they also be willing to go jail in order to refuse to participate in these violations of Scripture as well?
No they shouldn’t, because they shouldn’t be put in that position in the first place.
Many politicians, some even who claim to be conservatives, say that Christians who are county clerks or justices of the peace must take off their “Christian hat” and put on their “public official hat” when they are acting on behalf of the government. This type of compartmentalization is completely unbiblical and unacceptable. This type of thinking should completely rejected by all Christians.
Another option for a Christian who is a county clerk or justice of the peace would simply be to resign from the position. But this is also a very undesirable alternative especially in a nation founded on biblical principles.
Another way to avoid situations where there is a crisis of conscience is to simply ban all unbiblical marriages. But, marriages that are mixed by religion being unbiblical for a Christian, this would mean that the government would have to make a judgment as to who is a Christian and who isn’t. Yes, the marriage is unbiblical even if the non-Christian spouse is a churchgoer but not really a true believer in his/her heart. Thus, the government would have to judge the heart of a man. It is way beyond the scope of government to make this type of judgment. It would give the governing authority power which belongs to the Church and it would be deleteriously abused from the get-go. It is for this same reason that all Christians should oppose hate and thought crime legislation.
Jesus says that it is adultery for a man to marry a woman who is divorce or for a man to remarry after divorcing his wife for any reason except fornication. But Jesus indicates that these teachings are for Christians only and that God does not expect unbelievers to follow them. The Pharisees correctly pointed out that these things were permitted under the Law of Moses. Jesus said that this was because the hearts of the people were hard. The Old Testament teaches that the hearts of the Israelites were hard as stone, but in the future their hearts would be replaced with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Surely, Christ has fulfilled this passage in us (true believers) through the work of the Holy Spirit and we do not live by the inferior standard of Deuteronomy 24 which was preferred by the Pharisees. By the power of Christ in us we can and must receive Jesus’ teaching and live by the higher standard. Jesus indicated this further by saying, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matthew 19:12 (KJV)), implying that not everyone is able to receive it. So why then should we try to force it on the unwilling?
Having eliminated all other alternatives as being unbiblical, the only one left is to abolish marriage licenses. I am not saying that the government should have no records or recognition that a marriage has taken place. Giving someone a license to something implies that you condone the action. Marriages that are mixed by religion and marriages after divorce are sinful, but nevertheless they are real marriages in God’s eyes. If it is sinful for a couple to be married, then if you grant them a marriage license for a fee, you are quite literally selling them a license to sin! The issuing of a license to do something necessarily comes before the action, by definition of the word license. If that action is sinful then it is the same thing as the indulgences that used to be sold to parishioners in Roman Catholic Church before the sin was even committed! A marriage can be a real marriage in God’s eyes even though the decision to enter into it was sinful. Thus for purposes of questions arising before a court about child custody and other similar issues, it is prudent for the government to recognize that marriage has taken place even though it was a sinful decision to enter into the marriage covenant. But that does not mean that they have to sell licenses before the covenant is sealed. When a Christian couple is married, it should only be the family and the Church that is involved in the joining. The civil government should not be involved in that process. In their official capacity, no Christian county clerk should ever have to make a judgment about the rightness or wrongness of the decision to marry. Originally the justice of the peace had nothing to do with marriage and that is the way it should be. Originally they were only charged with keeping the peace (thus the name). At most the civil authorities should only be charged with the responsibilities of deciding whether a marriage covenant has taken place and protecting the God given rights of the couple if it is the case that they are married. And this determination should be solely based on God’s Word and the facts of the case in question. Obviously no government official should ever recognize a union of a same-sex couple as being a marriage.
In summary, a Christian should never recognize or declare a relationship to be a marriage when it isn’t. The most obvious example of pseudo-marriage is a homosexual relationship. A Christian should never be involved in the process of joining a couple in matrimony if such a marriage is a violation of Scripture, even though it may be a real marriage in God’s eyes. It follows from this that the concept of a marriage license is inherently sinful or at least bars any genuine Christian from certain public offices. But it is prudent and necessary for a Christian to record or recognize the fact that a marriage has taken place when the Christian is properly acting in an official capacity for purposes of protecting the parental and marital rights of the married couple even though the decision to enter into that marriage covenant may have been sinful.