In the last posting we discussed the motivation behind the militant push for homosexual marriage status, today we will look at how to approach this new reality in which we live. Let us begin by considering some historical reality, concerning the relationship between the church and human governments.
When the church has entered into agreements (bed) with human governments, it has never brought long term peace. There is no such thing as a benevolent dictator, benevolent communism or benevolent democracy, as governments are run by people with sinful hearts. Try as they might to represent the people, human governments normally degrade to what is in the best interest of that government, forgetting what is in the best interest of the people. Governments, with regular consistency, legislate in ways that keep themselves in power and have no qualms about cozying up to a group that can be exploited for their purposes for a while. We must remember that from the time that legalized governmental persecution ended against the church in 325, until the church becoming a legitimatized entity in Roman society, was less than 80 years. From that time forward, Christians got into government and churches began to find protection and benefit from the government. Churches were given tax breaks, and stipends to build cathedrals. The church thought it was great, until the power and clout the benefits brought corrupted the church. This behavior led the church and the world into the dark ages.
It should not take a long time to study the history of tax exemption and status the church has enjoyed in this nation, to see history has repeated itself. It would not take long to understand our receiving tax breaks and special status are about to lead to a “quid pro quo”, where we will lose these benefits if not complying with what the government will ask. This will most likely will look like what has already happened when a church is charged with political speech and loses its tax exempt status. In our current situation, our loss (of tax status and the free exercise of our faith) will be tied to not complying with standards to be enacted in the near future, concerning homosexual’s rights to marry. Of this there can be no denial, as we long ago crossed the threshold of tolerance for those who follow Christ.
Next month on the 14thof February this nation will indulge in its yearly celebration of lust and cheap love. We call is Valentine’s day, but our expression has little to do with the Christian leader it was named for. February 14th is the day in the calendar, which liturgical churches set aside to celebrate the saintly life of St. Valentine. This man actually lived and was the bishop of Terni in Italy.
This man was fearless in his preaching of Christ and suffered occasional imprisonment for trying to convert magistrates and even the emperor of Rome. He was arrested and imprisoned, finally, upon being caught marrying couples without the Roman Government’s approval. It seems the Roman Government, did not want younger people to marry, for they believed that unmarried soldiers fought better than married ones. Valentine believed it was not human government that decided who should marry or not, but God. Valentine was tortured, but something remarkable happened while in prison. The magistrate that judged Valentine in line with Roman law was a man named Asterius. This judge had a blind daughter and proclaimed if God would heal her, he would become a Christian. Valentine prayed for her to be healed and she was, the judge subsequently becoming a believer and his entire house of forty souls. In 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution, where he was beaten, stoned and decapitated. His life bears the truth, that God puts man and woman together in a one flesh union that is sanctified, not men or human governments or governmental marriage licenses. This account should put us all on notice, for it has surfaced yet again. It should be instructive for us in moving ahead in our cultural and legal context.
Should we be surprised by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to mandate marriage of anyone who wants to do it, regardless of the natural or moral abomination those unions are? No we should not.
Should we be up in arms about its implications, concerning what we ought to do and must do to be true to our God? No we should not.
Do we need a tax break, as a married couple, to prove the blessing of our marriages? No we do not.
Do we as servants of the Lord need a marriage license to solemnize a marriage before God? No we do not.
Here is our solution. When the government begins to dictate to us the need for something that the word of God does not declare as necessary and would hinder the sincere practice of our faith, we should not obey the dictate. This is what Valentine did, he practiced civil disobedience. In this nation the need for a marriage license is about money on every side. Lets take a look at when we began allowing the government authority in marriages they still do not have, even today.
It was not until the Uniformed Marriage and Marriage License Act of 1923, that the government required all states have some form of marriage license. Constitutionally speaking this was a huge over reach by the Federal government, but not one opposed by clergy, which is was a huge error in judgement. By 1929 all states had some form of marriage license. In many instances marriage licenses came about to curb inter-racial marriages (that’s racist), incestuous marriages (why many require a blood test), and polygamous marriages. The latter two have some cultural merit, where the first was to simply feed our racist tendencies.
These licenses became fodder for the hippie generation to co-habitate, with the tag line “marriage is just a piece of paper”. They we essentially correct. To allow government to intrude and require something to affirm what only God has a right to affirm or deny was to cheapen the act to it being merely a piece of paper position. How can that be true? Well, look at the millions of American’s who live together with no marriage license to speak of. They are not fined; they are at no threat of being imprisoned—yet they also can not file a joint tax return with a marriage benefit. This is where the issue really is seen for what it is worth. Marriage licenses generate income for the states and tax shelter for the couple. Do we really need those things? No.
I have decided that I will continue to solemnize marriages, just not those where the couple gets a marriage license they don’t need. Those couples, should they want me to marry them, will be instructed, to pay for the female spouse to have her name legally changed after the marriage. They will also be instructed to not file jointly in their tax accounting, but separately (unless they meet their states common-law criterion or head of household standards). This is completely legal and protects the sanctity of biblical marriage. It also protects those who are called upon as ministers to solemnize marriages. In the near future any minister who solemnizes a marriage, where a marriage license is procured, will potentially be at risk. The legal argument will be as follows; “He married that straight couple with a marriage license, now he is discriminating against us because we are gay”.
Is this not the same augment made with the recent outbreak of florist, bakers and reception hall owners who have been decimated financially and professionally? Of course it is, yet one would say “But the church is different, they can’t force us”. Well actually we are in a far worse position then the private business owner, who have been unconstitutionally railroaded. The church has taken on a government status as tax exempt, where we received a benefit, where private business owners are slammed and economically sacked with no governmental tie. If we continue to play their marriage game, it must be played by their rules or the benefit will be removed. Make no mistake, these things will happen.
II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that God does not give His redeemed a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. In light of this truth, we ought to rejoice that we will finally have the opportunity to prove our faith in Christ—remembering that I Peter 1:6-7 instructs us to rejoice in the trial of our faith. Will these developments affect our economics? They certainly will and have for many already, but these developments create an environment where our trust in Him as Provider will be proved as genuine . Will these developments place our person at risk of pain or other kinds of loss? The certainly will, but now our faith in him as Protector and Shield will be seen in all its sincerity. Will these developments serve to bring His redeemed to further isolation and sanction? Of this there can be no doubt, but these developments will create an environment where we will experience Christ in us the hope of glory in ways not possible to us until now.
In spite of the brooding clouds of dark times of circumstances for people of faith, some well-meaning Christian leaders are calling for us to “retake” this nation for Christ. Politicians of the conservative side have used sly rhetoric once more to tantalize believers with things they cannot produce or worst yet won’t really pursue. In spite of the shock and horror of even some of the presidential candidates concerning the June Supreme Court ruling legalizing sodomite and lesbian marriage, how many candidates have even spoken about it in debates or on the campaign trail? It seems as if they have forgotten their shock and horror. They have not forgotten; they are merely practicing political expediency and always have. The time is long past for us to stop looking for salvation in the next conservative wave of conservative politicians. What is the Spirit saying to the Church in America? Trust in Me, not in men! Don’t settle for cheap promises and the flimsy protection of human governments! Find your hope not in a temporary peace or quality of life which is easier for you! Find your hope in Jesus, who’s returns is nearer today than ever and who will soon be seen by all the tribes of the earth that will mourn at His appearing.