News of Brian McLaren's officiating the same-sex commitment ceremony of his son hit the discussion boards of a number of 'Christian' online communities and with the issue of same-sex union and the perceived attack on what Conservative Evangelical Christians see as the biblical definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘family' I think it is worth exploring also the legal niceties of marriage.
The reason I say this is because if we'd all pay close attention to wedding ceremonies we’d often hear a familiar yet seldom understood line from the officiating minister:
"By power vested in me by..." (which ever state it is that he’s holding the license to pronounce the couple as “man and wife.)With this line in mind maybe its worth thinking about marriage from the vantage point of a society that isn't governed by Evangelical Christianity alone'?
Think about this: by virtue of a country being a secular state that means the state should not privilege any particular religion when it comes to policy that protects the rights and looks after the welfare of its citizens.
What's good with marriage as a secular institution is that it guarantees to protect and also look after the rights and responsibilities of the two parties involved in the marriage.
Putting it into context with homosexual relationships think about this: isn't love quite commodity these days and that finding someone that a person would be crazy enough to commit his/herself to love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health till death is quite rare. What if someone finds that feeling of commitment into the arms of someone of the same gender?
Isn’t marriage about shared responsibility and at the core of it marriage is about “two people’s lifelong commitment, recognized by law and by society, to care for each other? To get married is to put oneself in another person’s hands, and to promise to take that person into one’s hands, and to do so within a community which expects both of parties to keep their word.1”
Having said that how can Christians speak about it as an attack on the biblical definition of marriage, if the Bible also clearly speaks about us that we love one another (John 15:17) ultimately because God is love and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7) Throughout the Scriptures we will always find that the essence of our call as followers of Jesus, that is to love one another in spite of the differences on race, gender and personality that we try to impose so as to differentiate ourselves from the others that we do not share a lot in common with.
Here’s then is the clincher for those who claim to follow Christ, who go out of their way to impose their definition of gender and marriage in secular society: Are Christians supposed to have the final say on who people should commit themselves to in front of God and in submission to the law?
1 Rauch, Jonathan. Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America (New York, NY: Holt Paperbacks, 2004) p.24