Sunday, January 26, 2014
An Oklahoma lawmaker isn’t the first to suggest that a person’s lifestyle choice not be legislated. I’ve read libertarian viewpoints questioning why any government should be involved in personal living arrangements. Why, they ask, since people live together in a wide variety of arrangements without benefit of government approval. If taken to court for their lifestyles, people claim discrimination - why must there be limitations upon consenting adults?
Now, there are multiple laws at state levels that looked upon marriage as a question of morality. Most of those are going away (which is one reason this lawmaker even suggests removing legal barriers) because one cannot legislate morality. I’ve been told that since I was a child. Now, instead of legislating morality, the tendency is to legislate social change.
If marriage is solely a contractual agreement among any number of parties (Utah recently determined that one marriage license is legal, more are not, but cohabitation does not require a marriage license, so any number of people may cohabit), then a government should be able to determine the validity of a contract that may end up in courts when people disagree. Should cohabitation require a contract, too, whether or not participants wish one? Will our society accept Islamic law that defines a Muslim's right to four wives? Should the situation be reversed, one wife, multiple husbands?
Many Christians have looked upon marriage as a secular contract and have ended up in divorce courts, helping to move marriage into courtrooms where it is being redefined to fit within federal tax laws as non-discriminatory. “Traditional marriage” has been used as a pejorative and supporting it has been described as "hate filled." Biblical stories of plural wives are tossed in as being examples of “biblical marriage.” Proponents of same-sex marriage state that Jesus never said it was wrong.
However the secular legal hassle turns out, I must be counted on the side of biblical marriage – clearly defined and stated in a positive manner to be what God intended, from the beginning. Though the original question addressed divorce, Jesus’ answer defines marriage:
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:3-8 KJV)
Secular law is determined by society. Changes within a society will end up as changes in the legal system. Since the beginning of time, those who follow the Lord’s word have made decisions that often differ from society. However, never once did Jesus attempt to change a government’s edict. His parents complied with a tax law and He complied with a death sentence. What was preached on mountainsides and synagogues was the personal relationship of one individual with his creator.
Had Christians lived by biblical standards, shown their beliefs by example, would this marriage question be in the forefront today? We will never know, will we? What can we do about it now? Live as though we truly believe that Jesus came, taught, died and rose again that we might live an abundant life.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 KJV)
It really does not matter to me what laws are written defining who and how many may live together in what contractual manner. Secular laws never have been nor will they be a determining factor in how I see what God has joined together. What matters to me is clarifying a biblical doctrine set forth by Jesus that Christians should understand and live by.