Monday, July 7, 2008

My Controversial View on Marriage - A Response

Ah, my husband, my heart. I disagree!

More accurately, I do agree with your first point, that churches should be able to decide who they'll marry. But I disagree that the civil aspect of marriage should be completely divorced from the religious aspect.

Philosophically, I agree with you about the separation of church and state, but in practice I don't agree that it can - or should - be a complete separation, just a fair one.

I believe in the importance of organized religion in our culture. I believe in the importance of standing up before our community: our friends, our family, our God, and our brothers and sisters in Christ to proclaim our marriage vows. And I believe that marriage - religious and spiritual as well as civil - is an integral support pole of that framework.

I believe that if religious marriage ceremonies were completely divorced from the necessary civil ceremonies to confer the legal rights and privileges of marriage upon a couple, then fewer couples would seek out religious marriage ceremonies.

I think you agree with me on that, and I concede your point that the remaining core would be more serious, more devoted than those who currently get married in a church simply because it's the thing to do.

But I think that would be bad for society, bad for marriage, and bad for churches.

To the latter point, I'm thinking of the many many young people (ourselves included) who decide to stop church shopping and settle down with a congregation when they decide to get married. Sure, some are just after the discount on the sanctuary, but others (ourselves included!) become active members of the church. (And weddings bring in money, too.)

That's just the pragmatic stuff. Numbers numbers numbers. Money money money. I believe that marriage and organized religion are a big part of what holds our society together, and I believe that they need to be encouraged, not discouraged, as the number of practicing religious folk worldwide continues to decline.

Here it is in action, Presbyterians on different sides of an issue, talking it out and keeping the conversation alive.

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