About Same Sex Marriage in California

On January 11 the Supreme Court of California heard the opening arguments in favor of overturning Proposition 8. This proposition, you will recall, amended the State constitution by means of a statewide vote of its citizens.

It’s more than a California matter because the marriage laws of 45 other States are at issue. It’s even more than an American issue because the assault on marriage is going on in Canada and the United Kingdom and other places in the western world.

It appears that those who are pushing for the collapse of the historic and virtually universal belief that marriage is a covenanted union of one man and one woman do not respect or believe in the democratic process.

A state-wide vote was taken at great expense. Impassioned speeches were made. There were demonstrations. And then a referendum. The citizenry said they want the historic position to be enshrined in the state constitution. The procedures were followed carefully. But the arguments must be made again.

In the opening arguments on January 11 a lawyer representing California said, “the traditional definition of marriage does not reflect animus against gays and lesbians – in California or anywhere else. Nor is it any way arbitrary or irrational.”

The argument continued, “Rather, it simply reflects the fact that the institution of marriage is, and always has been uniquely concerned with promoting and regulating naturally procreative relationships between men and women to provide for the nurture and upbringing of the next generation.”

It further states, “This understanding of the central purposes of marriage has been repeatedly and persuasively articulated by leading lawyers, linguists, philosophers, and social scientists throughout history up to and including the present day.”

The attack mounted against traditional marriage is multi-pronged: divorce has become surprisingly commonplace; living together unmarried almost mainstream; and a seemingly relentless campaign is on to broaden the definition of marriage to include an unnatural same-sex arrangement (possibly to be followed later by polygamy, polyandry and even state approved incestuous unions).

Those of us who hold to a Judeo-Christian understanding of life and particularly of marriage will need to give greater attention to what’s going on in this society. Do we understand why the traditional view of marriage is critically important? Can we articulate clearly the position we hold? And do we take opportunity whether in church or newspaper or local meetings to support the idea forthrightly but with civility?

I would be glad to hear from you, my reader, a one sentence or no more than a one paragraph reason why traditional marriage is to be protected for the good of the family and the good of society. That little assignment would test us all on the depth and clarity of our understanding of the problem. Good solutions begin with understanding.

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2 thoughts on “About Same Sex Marriage in California

  1. Marriage has a far deeper significance for Christians than simply being a social construct (as important as that is for the stability of any society).

    Dennis Kinlaw best summarizes my understanding of marriage when describing the Nuptial Metaphor in Scripture… ”Sexuality is a far more sacred thing for God’s followers and a far more significant thing in God’s eyes than most of us have dreamed…this is why Yahweh takes our sexual conduct so seriously….Sexuality is Paul’s key to understanding the Church as the Body of Christ. Biblically, marriage is the union of two persons in such self-giving love that they share a name, their bodies, their possessions, their vocation, their common life–their total selves. This is supposed to be a picture of the relationship that every believer may have with Christ. Pope John Paul II suggests that marriage is God’s best way to image for us both Christ’s love for us who make up his Church and also the self-giving love that characterizes the inner life of the triune God. (He) speaks of “the iconography of marriage” and describes the relationship (of Christian marriage) as earth’s most illuminating icon of self-giving love, earth’s closest counterpart to the (Agape) love that is the inner life of the triune Godhead.”
    -Dennis Kinlaw, Let’s Start with Jesus, Chap 2, The Level of Intimacy God Desires.

    I would only add that Pope John Paul II’s idea was first articulated by the Church Father, St. John Chrysostom. Frederica Mathewes-Green summarizes…”‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ so God designed husband and wife to be together. The light you loved in your lover’s eyes at the beginning grows more beautiful through the years. You meet those eyes in worship, in passion, in anger, in tears, over the baby’s crib, over your father’s casket. There is no substitute for the years and the life-time work of looking into those eyes. Gradually, the two of you become one. And when husband and wife are one, St. John writes, ‘they have not become the image of anything on earth, but of God himself.’“

    • Thanks, Tim, for your thoughts on marriage all the way from Ethiopia. You mention that marriage is more than merely a sociological arrangement for the good of society. You are surely right, and that point needs to be made. Even in Christian circles the deeper meaning of marriage needs to be articulated more clearly in teaching, preaching and by example in loving Christian homes. I hope good insights such as you have shared are being broadly spread in Christian circles.

      In my book on family life called, God’s House Rules, I try to make clear that for an authentic Christian perspective we have to see marriage as a wonderful gift from God that is rooted in creation. Rooting it in the story of creation I write, “The guiding principle in this story is that marriage is a divine provision for the good of mankind…. I believe that in spite of our fallenness (the Genesis 2 story) will forever present the pattern of marriage as God disclosed it” (pp.10, 11).

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