faculty_blog_header_summer

NOTE - This is the second of three blogs on this difficult but important subject.  The first appeared yesterday and the third (and final) will appear tomorrow.

I ended yesterday’s blog with these statements –

The following, however, really do seem to me to be variables from culture to culture and even from subculture to subculture and these are among the areas where I need (and am asking for) help –

See tomorrow’s blog for this list –

Yesterday’s tomorrow is now today, so here are some items that may be variables in the discussion of gay marriage.  [Please do note the use of the term “may be.” I am simply suggesting that both those who favor and those who oppose gay marriage might want to take account of these matter.]

1) On what kinds of issues is it appropriate for a civil government  to seek to regulate the actions of responsible, “consenting” adults?  Of course, this is a HUGE field which has produced innumerable outstanding treatises.  See, for example, this interesting discussion of St. Augustine and limited government -  http://www.nhinet.org/raeder16-2.pdf.  My comments in this blog are designed simply as possible discussion-starters.  With that in mind,   I will mention a few areas regarding government involvement where there may be legitimate differences of opinion and I conclude with the one with which I began this blog and I ask any readers of this blog to comment on which (if any) of these you think should NOT be regulated by the civil government:

a.  The use of certain drugs.  The entire prescription system in most countries is based on the notion that even mature and responsible adults cannot be allowed to determine what drugs are best for them – whether those drugs be recreational or prescription.  Interestingly, the rules for these matters differ from country to country and sometimes from state to state within a given country but I know of no country where there is no regulation of any kind. 

b.  The right to bear arms.  Again, differences are HUGE from country to country and even from state to state.   But whether countries are lenient or restrictive with respect to firearms, most countries do regulate what adults may and may not do with firearms.  

c.  The need to have automobile insurance in order to be allowed to drive.  Not so much difference among nations here, although there are different ages at which one may even be considered for a driver’s license.  Does this mean that 15-year-olds in one area really are more coordinated and responsible than they are in another area? Probably not, but it is clear that civil governments all over the world have assumed the authority to regulate which adults can drive.

d. The need to have (or to purchase) health insurance.  This is a really hot topic in the United States right now but some other “Western” countries see it as a “no brainer.”  So who is it who has “the brains”?  Those societies which require more or those societies which require less?  And what does a civil government have the authority to require in this (or any other) regard? 

e.  Many others, the inclusion of which would make this blog far too long.

f.  Marriage.  This is the one I am supposed to be discussing so I will give it two separate categories.

2)   What has civil government often linked with marriage (especially in the U.S.) and is it necessary for such linkage to be maintained? 

a.  The tax benefits of marriage.  I can think of no place in Scripture where it is explicitly commanded that married couples get tax breaks which unmarried couples do not get.  Could evangelical Christians who agree on the NON-variables above also agree that granting to ANY unmarried couples the same tax breaks that married heterosexual couples receive would NOT violate explicit Scriptural teaching?  Granted that some would say that the tax benefits provided to heterosexual married couples are a way of “affirming” traditional marriage.  However, given that there are so many evangelical heterosexual married couples in other parts of the world that do not benefit from such breaks, it is necessary that we maintain this linkage?

b.  The other financial benefits of marriage.  I can think of no place in Scripture where it is explicitly commanded that each partner in a heterosexual marriage must have the kinds of financial “ownership of assets” rights that are commonly granted to partners in such a marriage.   Could evangelical Christians who agree on the NON-variables above also agree that granting to ANY unmarried couples the same overall financial benefits that married heterosexual couples receive would NOT violate explicit Scriptural teaching?  Granted that some would say that the other financial benefits provided to heterosexual married couples are a way of “affirming” traditional marriage.  However, given that there are so many evangelical heterosexual married couples in other parts of the world that do not benefit from such benefits, it is necessary that we maintain this linkage?

c.  The “care” benefits of marriage.  I can think of no place in Scripture where it is explicitly commanded that only heterosexual married couples can make “end of life” decisions for one another.  Could evangelical Christians who agree on the NON-variables above also agree that granting to ANY unmarried couples the same “end of life” authority that married heterosexual couples receive would NOT violate explicit Scriptural teaching? Granted that some would say that the care benefits provided to heterosexual married couples are a way of “affirming” traditional marriage.  However, given that there are so many evangelical heterosexual married couples in other parts of the world that do not experience such benefits, it is necessary that we maintain this linkage?

d.  Why did the original evangelical Christian settlers of North America distance the church completely from any involvement in marriage?  [OK, that doesn’t fit here but I wanted to get it in somewhere!]  Even if the reason was in order to distance themselves from the Roman Catholic church, where marriage was regarded as a sacrament, no one would claim that those women and men who founded “Plimoth Plantation” in  Massachusetts were theological liberals.  Maybe they had it right, after all.  But exactly what would THAT mean for the subject of gay marriage?  Good question!  What’s YOUR answer?  And the “wicket” gets even “sticker” when we realize that the regulations of most local marriage bureaus stipulate that it is THE STATE which decides which CHURCH officials may conduct recognizable marriage services.  Talk about a mixed up mess!!

3.  In what ways have civil governments already sought to regulate marriage (between consenting adults)?

a.  General marriage license laws.  These can be overwhelming and confusing.  I live in Pennsylvania and, if I want to know how my intended marriage may be regulated, I am first confronted by this statement:  “Requirements may vary as each marriage license bureau in Pennsylvania could have their own requirements” [emphasis added].  Immediately after this statement is a list of the SIXTY-SEVEN (67!) different marriage bureaus in Pennsylvania.  Obviously, civil regulation of the marriage of consenting adults is not a new thing and reading the differing requirements in these different jurisdictions in an exercise in bewilderment and befuddlement.  But clearly (at least to me!),  civil regulation of marriage between consenting adults is not a new thing.

Not only so, but at least one specific  restriction which civil governments in the U.S. place on marriage between consenting adults has, in my judgment, direct relevance to the question of gay marriage.

But you will need to return tomorrow for that item and for the conclusion to this blog on gay marriage.


Sam Logan is Special Counsel to the President and Professor of Church History at Biblical. He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and he is President Emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. In addition to his work at Biblical, he serves as International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship ( http://www.wrfnet.org). He is married to Susan and they have two sons and two grandsons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/samuel-logan   

 

 

Comments 

 
0 #2 Sam Logan 2012-06-05 08:07
Thanks so much, Dave. You have some great insights.

When I had the privilege of conducting the wedding service for my younger son, I took as my text the very passage you mention - "It is not good for man tio be alone." And, of course, that has reference to many, many things in addition to the sexual union which marriage includes. But marriage does include sexual union and sexual union is the one esclusive blessing (according to Scripture)provi ded in a heterosexual monogamous marriage.

I also agree that no one should marry for tax benefits. My only point in mentioning them is that we might, without violating any Scriptural principles, allow the same tax benefits to those committed individuals who are not in an official marriage relationship. That might be fairer overall and it might reduce the pressure for marriages which Scripture does not allow.

Thanks again for your commebnt.
Quote
 
 
0 #1 Dave 2012-06-05 06:57
As I reflect on your blog, it brings me back to my undergraduate days at a Christian college when a close group of friends and I wrestled with the question one semester of "What is the purpose of marriage for the Christ follower other than sex?"

It took us a long time to answer that question. We took the question to some professors as well. The conclusion was that the purpose of marriage was to have a life long companion to share the journey with; part of the "not good to be alone" fulfillment.

Sex and children were not the conclusion because what happens when due to physical reasons that is not possible? Does it end the marriage? Marriage seems to symbolize commitment, sacrifice, partnership, character building and mutuality better than any thing else. Two are better than one. Can these traits be expressed in a same sex marriage/relationship?

One should not wed for tax benefits, one should marry for love.
Quote
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Blog Mission

The purpose of this blog will be to expand the influence of our faculty, maintain contact with our graduates, and invite other friends to think with us about important biblical and theological ideas.

Biblical's Faculty

Biblical’s Faculty:

We are committed to ongoing engagement with culture and the world for the sake of our witness to the Gospel, and to continual learning from Christians in other cultural settings.

Latest Blog Entries

Written on 17 October 2014 - by Bryan Maier
Written on 13 October 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 10 October 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 08 October 2014 - by Stephanie Lowery
Written on 06 October 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 03 October 2014 - by Stephanie Lowery
Written on 01 October 2014 - by Dan Williams
Written on 29 September 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 26 September 2014 - by David Lamb
Written on 24 September 2014 - by Dr. Diane Langberg

Previous Blog Entries

Follow Biblical

Follow us on the following sites and receive notifications on upcoming events and blog entries:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on Twitterg+_64_black

Contact Admissions

800.235.4021 x146

215.368.5000 x146

215.368.4913 (fax)

 

admissions@biblical.edu

Stay Connected with Biblical

Follow us on the following sites:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on TwitterFollow Biblical on YouTubeg+_64_black
Or simply call us at...
800.235.4021 x146 or 215.368.5000 x146

Support Biblical by Giving

800.235.4021 x162

215.368.5000 x162

215.368.7002 (fax)

 

development@biblical.edu

Home

Site Login