In light of the recent Supreme Court hearings regarding same-sex marriages, there has been much conversation on how Christians should react. With people who support same-sex marriage doing such things as posting an equal sign as their Facebook profile picture, Christians who oppose are making clever reactionary pictures (plus signs, a man and woman holding hands, etc.). But, is the government acknowledging same-sex marriages actually something by which Christians (even the most theologically conservative ones) should be threatened?
My opinion is a resounding “no”. Even if one holds to the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman, then one still should not feel threatened by all that is going on. I’ll explain.
The biggest issue that Christians need to address is the problem of semantics. It is my understanding that the marriage that the government institutes is a very different thing than the covenant of which the Bible speaks and which God established. Honestly, the only things that they have in common are their names, “marriage”. They act as two completely separate things.
The governmental institution of marriage does such things like providing benefits in regards to taxes, estate planning, medical, death, housing, and social security along with other government benefits for the two people who enter into the marriage. That is literally all it does. Christian marriage is a completely different matter, a spiritual covenant acknowledged by God and by the Church. It does not have anything to do with the government or the political realm at all.
Christian marriage does not need to be recognized by the government to be an official marriage. It is only because of the nationalism that is commonly found in the American Church that many Christians have began to enmesh the two together. If one follows this line of thinking, then Adam and Eve were not really married. And if one truly follows a strict version of this line of thinking, then anyone (even Christians) who are married outside of the U.S. are not actually married either. Logically, if one thinks that the way that the American government defines marriage directly correlates with how Christianity in general views it, then no one outside of the U.S. could technically be married, since no one else is under the American government except for America. A Christian marriage does not have to be acknowledged by the U.S. government, or any government for that matter, to be a genuine marriage.
Some people are still led astray because the two still still share the same name of “marriage”. But think about this. What if the government began instituting a weekly ceremony called “The Lord’s Supper”? And what if this ceremony was nothing like the ordinance that Jesus established in the gospels? Would this change how the Church does the Lord’s Supper? Would the traditional/biblical idea or definition of the Lord’s Supper amongst the fellowship of believers be threatened by this governmental institution of the same name? Of course not. Not to mention that even various Christian denominations disagree with the nature of the Lord’s Supper! In the same way, Christian marriage is not threatened by how the government defines marriage.
Not to go too off topic, but why are Christians so adamant about gay marriage being outlawed, yet continue to practice or be indifferent about divorce? This is something that Jesus addressed way more directly than the subject of homosexuality. The most probable answer is the scary reality that homophobia is still rampant in the Church. Perhaps the rally against same-sex marriage is almost an attempt for Christians who are so apathetic about divorce to validate themselves by being really against one thing, while shying away from another issue. Either way, the hypocrisy within the Christian community on this topic obvious.
However, in the end, what I am saying is that, to the Christian who believes that the traditional model of marriage is biblical, marriage is marriage is marriage. It should not matter what the government says or how it defines its own institutions. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. Why, then, do so many Christians insist on fusing the kingdom of the earth with the God’s kingdom? Christians shouldn’t be threatened by “gay marriages”. Because, in the end, Christians shouldn’t be threatened by the government at all. Our kingdom is not of this world.