About the same time that I lost my wedding ring a couple of weeks ago I ran across this Fox news article written by one of their staff, Keith Ablow.(1) The title said it all – Marriage Died in 2013. Ablow is astute in his foreboding conclusion regarding the legalization of gay marriage:
…when states began to legalize gay marriage, I argued that polygamy would be the natural result. If love between humans of legal age is the only condition required to have the state issue a marriage license, then it is irrational to assert that two men or two women can have such feelings for one another, while three women and a man, or two men and a woman, cannot.
Ablow’s predictions created such intense hostility from the gay community that he received multiple threats of being raped and murdered. However, the story is unfolding just as Ablow predicted. In December 2013, Judge Clark Waddoups effectively rendered the current Anti-polygamy laws in Utah unconstitutional. The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit brought by Kody Brown and his four wives who have been featured on TLC’s reality show “Sister Wives”.
Ablow states, “This will officially make marriage the Wild West”.
It will also, eventually, lead to test cases in which a few unusual sisters and brothers insist that they can marry, because they are in love and promise not to procreate, but, instead, to use donor eggs or sperm.
And, I predict, the courts will agree with them.
Ablow is correct. The slippery slope has become an avalanche and the fabric that holds society together is unraveling at the relational seams. Social stability is a farce. We are dealing with the dissolution of the marriage institution or the redefining of it to the point of absurdity. Laugh or cry, but Ablow is spot on:
“Marriage is over.
It was always at least a little funny that a huge percentage of people swore to stay together until death, then divorced and remarried.”
But, now, it is, officially, judicially, a joke.
If two men can marry, and three men can marry, and five women and a man can marry, and three men and two women can marry, then marriage has no meaning.
Outside of a Christian worldview, marriage has never had meaning to begin with. Married pagans (and pagans in general) are not operating consistently within their worldview. It is like my grandmother wanting to join the local Boy Scout chapter. It is senseless. The Word of God alone provides the basis for covenant union between a man and a woman. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:22–24)
Aside from the pressure of cultural norms and the existing legal and tax incentives, why would a non-Christian want to be married at all? There is simply no reason for it. Scripture provides the Christian with a standard. Christians can appeal to this standard. What Ablow observes above is what necessarily happens when such a standard is removed. The fixed becomes relative. Man and man, or man and multiple women, man and boys, man and sisters – what is it? With no Biblical standard, all bets are off.
This point goes beyond just the definition of marriage. Ablow proceeds to weigh-in on the state’s involvement in the marriage institution:
It is very clear that government should get out of issuing marriage licenses, entirely.
The truth is that government never had a defensible role in marriage. It should always have been the exclusive domain of the individuals and institutions that choose to recognize such interpersonal unions.
Churches should be allowed to define marriage as they wish and offer marriage certificates only to those who comply with their definitions. Temples, just the same. Communes can do it, for all I care. Any organization, in fact, should be able to award the status to anyone they like. But, states and the federal government should have no part in it, whatsoever.
First, let me say that I agree that the state should not be sovereign in the institution of marriage. This is a divine institution sealed by an oath in the presence of witnesses. That being said, marriages still function in the presence of the state. Even Ablow admits that the state in fact does have some role.
Only child support should be mandatory, because the state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that minors not be without financial resources.
The question is by what standard does he assert this? Who is to say that a man has the responsibility to care for his children? Why is it wrong for a minor to be without financial resources? Why should the state be the one to ensure the minor has them?
The point is, first, marriage ceases to make any sense at all outside of the Christian worldview. Second, both the family and the state are governed according to some moral code. They are both covenant institutions. They have terms by which they are governed. The family and the state interact in society. If they are governed by different moral codes then there will be tension and ultimately collapse of both.
There seems to be an attempt by Ablow to ensure that Christian marriage is maintained in absence of a fully Christian state and society. More than this, he is calling for marriages of all kinds under a state that will accommodate all of them. Listen again to his statement:
Temples, just the same. Communes can do it, for all I care. Any organization, in fact, should be able to award the status to anyone they like.
What happens when one temple wants to unite a man and a boy in matrimony? Should the state recognize this and accommodate the implications? Why not? Ablow is ultimately calling for a pluralistic society. This is problematic. Such a pluralistic context cannot survive over time. People become more and more consistent with their presuppositions. All political and social issues are, at their base, religious or moral in nature. People begin defining right and wrong in terms of their religious presuppositions. One area of society in which this is done is the family. This is exactly what we are seeing described in Ablow’s article. It doesn’t stop with the family. A person’s view of right and wrong will pervade all of life, including their view of the state.
We need to acknowledge that the God of the Bible rules over both marriage and the state. If we call for God to be over the one, we must call for him to be over the other. We will gain no ground fighting for a biblical definition of marriage while at the same time refusing to call for a state to structure its laws in terms of the same Bible. Ablow says,
It’s over. Go get rings, go get lawyers, go rent a nice hall, but City Hall should bow out.
Yes, City Hall should bow out – of a lot of things. That said, if the God of City Hall and the God of the lawyers and the God of the marriage are not the same God, then said society is doomed to fall apart at the seams anyway.
As for the rings, thankfully my son found mine last week.