Why Christians Shouldn't Vote for the Marriage Amendment
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Published on Mar 11, 2012
In September 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly passed SB 514, called "An act to amend the constitution to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state." In May of 2012, voters of North Carolina will get to decide whether or not to ratify Amendment One.
The push for this bill has been mainly from social conservatives who believe that homosexuality is wrong. The slogans we hear supporting it are cast in terms of a culture war. Indeed the short title of the bill is the "defense of marriage".
First, let's define what we mean by marriage. We've got to go deeper than "one man and one woman" - lots of things are between one man and one woman that aren't marriage. Marriage, to the Christian, is a living picture of the relationship of God with his people. Throughout the Old Testament God describes himself as "married" to Israel. In the New Testament, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands, as the Church submits to Christ. And he tells husbands to love their wives, as Christ loved the Church - and gave himself up for her. In Revelation, John calls the Church the "Bride of Christ". This relationship isn't just symbolized by marriage; marriage gets its very meaning from this reality.
What about marriage between unbelievers then? What about marriages which are lived out without any regard to the symbolism there? This is when it becomes clear, once we move beyond the rallying cries and the slogans, that it's not the same. In fact, there's a totally different thing we also call marriage: we'll call this "civil marriage", as opposed to "Christian marriage".
So what is civil marriage? It's a set of contracts. Visitation rights, next of kin, power of attorney. What's the spiritual significance of these contracts? Zero. The state of North Carolina has the power to define civil marriage. God has defined Christian marriage. So which one are we defending with the "defense of marriage act"?
If we're defending Christian marriage, we don't need to. As long as the spirit of God is active, Christian marriage cannot be destroyed. No one can change the reality that lies behind it. When Jesus founded the Church, he didn't say to Peter, "Peter, I'm building a Church. I need you to be a rock for me - don't let the gates of Hell overpower it!" No - he said "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not overpower it. The homosexual agenda doesn't believe in Christian marriage, so how can they touch it?
On the other hand, if we're defending civil marriage, why waste our time? Why does it matter to the Christian who's allowed to make a certain kind of contract with another person? Winning the culture wars won't save anyone. Jesus did not command us to make sure we have a family-friendly culture. He commanded us to make disciples of all nations. The Defense of Marriage act is a poor excuse for evangelism and discipleship.
So come May, when the Defense of Marriage act comes up on the ballot, before you cast your vote, think to yourself: what am I defending, and why am I defending it? Voting no doesn't condone anything; it simply recognizes the fact that the state of North Carolina has nothing to do with defining Christian marriage. If we value our religious liberty in the United States, Christians should be the first to say that the marriage the state defines is not the same as Christian marriage. What an opportunity we have to leave the state its civil marriages, and reclaim for the Church its authority over Christian marriage.
To read more about Christianity and the gay marriage debate, see the following:
The Toaster Marriage Canard: http://thri.ca/archives/528
"Natural Marriage": http://thri.ca/archives/389
And on the Christian's place in politics in general:
The Politics of Monergism: http://thri.ca/archives/599
Faith And Activism, or, The Bible is Not a Blueprint for Society: http://thri.ca/archives/568
Peace and the Politics of Conscience: http://thri.ca/archives/576
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