Marriage a Civil Right, not Sacred Rite

Marriage is a civil union between two people, a covenant of agreement that they will live together and love each … Continued

Marriage is a civil union between two people, a covenant of agreement that they will live together and love each other. The marriage contract gives them legal permission to economically support each other and to benefit from each other.

Marriage is not about religion at all. Oh, some people say the vows in a church, temple or synagogue, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t mean much.

The church/temple/synagogue thing is about appearance. It’s a good place to have a fancy and expensive wedding. Saying vows before God is not at all as important to most people as it is cracked up to be.

In fact, God seems to be the expendable variable in the marriage experience.

I agree with Welton Gaddy that marriage is a civil right. Sacred? Hardly.

Why the cynicism? Because God tends to be the expendable variable in most of what we do. God’s name is invoked when we want to stress a point, be right, or gain political points.

Act like one is religious, and people like it, but the proof of the pudding is not what people say they believe, it’s how they live their beliefs.

How many people have had marriages just in order to gain social status. Where’s God in that marriage?

And how many people get married because they think they’re getting old. Where’s God in that?

Yet more, how many people get married, promising God that they’ll stay together forever, when in fact even at the point of getting married they are already plotting and planning a way to get out?

How many heterosexual marriages are fraught with dishonesty and adulterous affairs? Are we really to believe that unions like that are more pleasing to God than a same-sex marriage between two committed people who have never broken their vows to be monogamous?

It is the saddest thing that God is manipulated and misused for the purposes of people. We really do not seem to take God seriously until some catastrophe hits us or until we want to destroy someone else.

Were we really lovers of God, we would understand that what God wants is for us to love each other and treat each other as worthy human beings. That anyone would keep a long-time partner from the death bed of his or her partner is not a God-move.

Or, denying a partner economic support once his or her partner dies is in no way right.

But we, in the name of God, denigrate people and live with puffed up egos and self righteous attitudes that, frankly, kill the desire of too many people to want to know God or be close to God.

This babbling about marriage being a religious rite is drivel. Marriage is a civil right.

When people get serious about God and an honest relationship with this God we talk about, we might be able to have an honest discussion about marriage being a truly sacred experience.

Susan K. Smith
Written by

  • rohitcuny

    One thing that bothers me in much of this discussion is that marriage has also existed in many non-Christian societies like India, China and Japan. And the marriages have all been heterosexual. To claim that a marriage is only valid when blessed by the Christian God seems like the height of arrogance.At the same time, in non-Christian societies, marriage has been regarded as, in part, a religious institution. In my own religion Jainism, there are no priests, only monks. But that does not mean that we do not have religious weddings. Jains do have religious weddings and they are performed by Hindu priests. If religion was considered irrelevant, then why don’t they just call a registrar?I am shocked by Susan’s statement, “Marriage is not about religion at all. Oh, some people say the vows in a church, temple or synagogue, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t mean much.” That is amazing coming from a pastor. No doubt it doesn’t mean much to many people, indeed marriage itself doesn’t mean much to some people. But that hardly justifies the bold generality of your statement.

  • Paganplace

    “One thing that bothers me in much of this discussion is that marriage has also existed in many non-Christian societies like India, China and Japan. And the marriages have all been heterosexual.”Untrue, actually, it’s just that when there are counterexamples, Westerners and those wishing to appeal to them, put “marriage” in quotes and discount these things. Not to mention that we’re expected to rely on almost two thousand years of transcriptions and translations done by the very people with the most interest in erasing any positive portrayals of any way other than their own, if they could even conceive of one before long, for your claims of ‘evidence of absence.’ Admittedly, many cultures have had *other* places than ‘marriage’ as you define it for LBGT people, but if you ‘define marriage’ as ‘heterosexual procreative couples’ for two thousand years, (or a month) how many ‘gay marriages’ would you expect to *see?* These assertions of yours are assuming a priori that your *sorting* represents reality, whereas it really only tells us about your *sorting.*

  • Paganplace

    I mean, look at it, Rohit: Right here on this very board, you can see people claiming gay marriages ‘are not marriages.’ This is nothing new. Yes, you’ve been doing this a long time.

  • Paganplace

    Sorting. In the times of my mother and grandmother, there was a word for something like my current relationship with a woman. It was called:A Boston. Marriage. Interesting, I should think, given a sudden interest in what they hope passes for etymology and ethnography these days, when obviously they just don’t like queers, eh?

  • Paganplace

    Really. Don’t get me wrong, being Bostonian, I *embrace* the traditional definition of lesbian *marriage* of my forebearers. I only ask that we recognize these values and uses of verbiage as foundational to the enlightened society we now know and love, and cease this modernistic abuse of the term ‘Marriage’ as clearly meant to defile and degrade my Boston Marriage. Too long has this linguistic inaccuracy plagued our society and the cause of Liberty and justice for all.

  • dhsheppard

    We should remove the sanctioning of marriage from government all together. It’s interesting that so many people are concerned about having the label “married” attached to their relationship yet resistant to any authoritative definition of the term. What is the point of recognizing homosexual marriage unless it provides some perceived legitimacy that it desperately seeks? Could there be an alternative that doesn’t compromise the historical church’s definition of marriage?It seems we have reached the point where we should remove the term “marriage” from every government recognized civil relationship in the country? Instead, municipalities could approve civil unions free of any religious connotation or expression. Local governments could recognize civil unions and attribute benefits and rights as they and their communities see fit. Marriage on the other hand could be protected and safeguarded as an institution sanctioned only by God and His church. Much of what has been said about the loss of significance and relevance toward the institution of marriage has indeed occurred in the modern expression and experience of marriage. However, this is not a sufficient reason to continue to degrade and redefine the meaning of marriage or its significance. I propose we protect the institution of marriage by giving it back exclusively to the church. This may be the very thing our country needs and it might end up leading to renewed interest, passion and commitment to the marriage relationship.

  • Paganplace

    “We should remove the sanctioning of marriage from government all together.”I would *very much appreciate it* if peeople would *shut up about that* until I have equal rights to what marriage there *is?* If you don’t mind so much?If it’s what you want, *go ahead and do it,* just stop acting like saying that is an answer to the Jim Crow I live under all the while.Dammit. 🙂

  • rohitcuny

    Understand. I don’t care *who* you are. Pope, pundit, pontificating prelate or Internet *prat,* *it’s not your Mother-loving life held in the balance.* You wanna diddly-pick about details, do it on your *own* time. *After* I actually have the freedom to tell you to kiss off. If you are being harrassed by anti-gay prejudice then many of us will be on your side.If you just want to be nasty, that is altogether a different game.You are providing a lot of ammunition to the anti-gay religious right, aren’t you?

  • godspeace2all

    I agree with Pastor Smith, that people have taken God out of marriage. I do feel, and have always felt, that marriage is a covenant between two human-beings and God. It saddens me to think that this personnel covenant has been reduced to court actions. If two human-beings are truly willing to make this covenant, it should not matter who they are. But in our society it does. Thank you Pastor Smith for you willingness to speak God’s truth no matter what.

  • Preacherman808

    Dr. Smith I must respectfully disagree. Just because people don’t treat the sanctuary as holy does not mean it is not a holy place. And, just because people don’t treat their marriage relationship as holy does not mean it is not a holy institution. It means that people are disobeying God’s word. I think the bible is clear about this. It really troubles me how the modern church seems to formulate its practice and opinion on pop culture as opposed to trying to influence it. It sounds as though your article is a defense of gay marriage and while I do believe all people should be afforded certain civil rights, i just can’t see how the church can get around the biblical mandate and sanction this.I do believe that people should be allowed to decide who is responsible for their care upon their demise, how their property is distributed and other legal matters. However, God said that the marriage relationship is sacred and I don’t see how we can question that. If you believe the bible, there is no ambiguity on the matter. Dr. Smith, the view of marriage as a religious rite is not drivel its biblical and how people act is not an indicator of the validity of the bible.

  • DaryleQ

    To be upfront, I believe any two individuals, of legal age, should be allow all the benefits of a legal union, no different than what is afforded a “traditional” marriage. The state has no business denying anyone that “civil right”.That said, a religious institution/denomination should not be forced by the state to sanction any particular marriage, whether a gay couple or a heterosexual couple that doesn’t complete some tradition pre-marriage requirements. The bottom line is that we don’t all believe the same things, have the same faiths, etc. And, it’s time for us to move on off this issue and recognize that we cannot, and should not, legislate discrimination.

  • pacifistcode

    Wow! so really its civil and nothing near religion, them am gonna marry in my bedroom here and not in the church or mosque. Go ahead !!!

  • lepidopteryx

    Wow! so really its civil and nothing near religion, them am gonna marry in my bedroom here and not in the church or mosque. Go ahead !!!