Since the Garden of Eden, God established marriage between one man and one woman as a foundation for the family unit. This God-ordained foundation has been recognized even by the most tyrannical of governments – at least until now. The basis of this foundation was to promote prosperity and posterity by providing men and women with helpmates to enable them to prosper and survive the rigors of life, as well as ensuring the continued growth of the human race. It was not based on love interests, which can be purely physical and change with every passing fancy. It was based on practicality and economics. Today the Supreme Court of the United States has asserted its definition of marriage over God’s. Therefore, in order to keep what is God, God’s, we need to understand how we got to this point and ultimately how we can circumvent this latest government over-reach.
Marriage in law
Originally, the covenant between a man and a woman only required a public commitment that was recognized and sanctioned by the system of organized religion extant at that time. Eventually churches assumed the authority to grant couples the privilege of joining in matrimony based on their system of beliefs. Eventually, people anticipating marriage were required by the church to post banns. These banns were public declarations of their intentions to marry and lasted for varying degrees of time periods over the course of history. The time period provided a window in which objections to the anticipated marriage could be contested for one reason or another. That began to change in England and Wales in 1753 with Hardwick’s Marriage Act. This combined the church process with statutory law but still maintained that marriages had to be performed by a member of the clergy in a consecrated building. At this point, licenses were not required and the only record of the marriages were recorded by the church, which sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t.
Then the Marriage Act of 1836 was passed in England and Wales, which created civil marriages and an alternate route from church marriages. Under this Act, a statutory basis for regulating and recording marriages was established. Subsequently, marriage licenses were applied for that granted the applicants permission to marry. After the marriage ceremony was performed, marriage certificates were signed and witnessed, which in turn were recorded by the State as evidence that the marriage had taken place. The 1836 Act was then updated by the Marriage Act of 1949, which employed similar requirements.
Marriage in history
When trying to figure out how this affects how we practice marriage today, we need to understand that historically marriages were the product of a publicly made commitment; then the church performed marriage ceremonies and were the arbiters that made the decision about whether or not a marriage should take place; then the state interjected itself into the practice through the institution of licenses and certificates. Once this was done, licenses gave permission to the parties in question to be married, and then a certificate was issued to record the union.
In Colonial America, marriage was practiced in a number of ways. In New England, marriage was considered to be a civil contract that was supported by Sir William Blackstone’s definition in his dictionary that defined marriage as a type of corporation whereby husband and wife became one person under the law. In other parts of the Colonies you could simply announce your plans to the community three times, or chose to comply with the legal remedy established in 1741 that required your banns to be read by either a government official or a clergyman of the Church of England. The latter option was difficult for a variety of reasons – not the least of which was the unavailability of such clergy as well as the plethora of religious organizations in the new land other than the Church of England. There are also many examples of people marrying themselves. Regardless of the how the marriage came into being during these times, the institution was regarded as a sacred one and spouses were expected to conduct themselves honorably.
In 1923, the Uniform Marriage License Act was passed and soon all states began to require licenses in order for people to marry legally. What escaped the scrutiny of many, when licenses and certificates were required by the State, the union between a man and a woman came under the authority of the State. Licenses grant States jurisdiction by creating a contract and a corporation of sorts. When this happens, in essence you are marrying the State as well as your spouse. Additionally, when members of the clergy perform a marriage ceremony the way it is practiced today, they are acting as an agent of the State and not God. To put it in simple terms, when a State issues a license, that State has the authority to regulate and define the terms of that license. And so, without a whimper or even so much as a wince, marriage became an institution of the State, subject to State regulations and definitions. When this happened, without realizing it, law-abiding clergy members surrendered God’s authority, and hence His definition of marriage, to the ever-encroaching power-crazed lunacy of the State.
The situation got worse when our government began surrendering our autonomy to the United Nations and propagating the erroneous notion that somehow or another these international laws were altruistic and superior to our own constitutional laws. As you would expect, the UN had/has something to say about marriage. Article 16 (1) of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.” In this statement the UN is bolding declaring that the right to marry, among other things, is not limited by religion. Translation: churches can no longer decide whether or not marriage between two individuals is compliant with their religious beliefs. And therefore – everyone of full age (whatever the UN defines that to mean) has the right to marry. Therefore, is it any wonder that jurists like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who publicly denounced the U.S. Constitution in an interview with Al Hayat television in 2012, would rule in favor of same-sex marriage?
Rebuilding our foundations
The Bible asks: “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). Indeed the foundation of marriage established in the Garden of Eden is being destroyed by unelected officials in black robes. So the question we should be asking is: what will the righteous do now – while the foundations are wobbling but still exist? I am not a constitutional expert, neither am I a legal scholar nor a theologian, but I would suggest what the prophet Jeremiah suggested when the nation of Israel sat on the precipice of destruction. It’s time to find our ancient paths. If applying for a marriage license and then documenting the existence of that marriage with the State creates a corporation that is indentured to the State and subject to its regulations and definitions, then perhaps it’s time for the church to reinstitute the banns of the past and re-assert its authority over the God-ordained institution. Should it re-create the performance of the sacrament independent of the State, it will also be able to prescribe its conditions and practices independent of the State. And as for the legalities concerning the decision-making process should one become incapacitated or who inherits what, etc., there are legal instruments that can be entered into, such as a Power of Attorney or a Will – all of which do not compromise the conscience of the church. Of course couples would have the option of going the State route and then going to the church for a blessing/dedication-type of ceremony. In short, let Caesar keep what belongs to Caesar, but let the church keep what belongs to the church – even if a little creative surgery is necessary.
Reprinted from The Daily Rant, copyright 2015 Mychal Massie. Used by permission.
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