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Summary: The objection to all the fuss people are raising over equal rights in marriage hinges on the proposition that marriage is primarily a secular institution regulated by a non-Christian government and therefore it is something Christians should not get all w

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EQUAL RIGHTS AND MARRIAGE

ILLUSTRATION

There was a young man who was about to enter high school. The guidance counselor called him into her office and asked him if he would prefer the agricultural or the vocational section. The young man explained to her that he wanted to be put in the academic section. The counselor smiled as she informed the young man that the academic section would not be appropriate for him and that he would find high school more enjoyable if he was in a section with his friends and relatives. The young man replied that it did not matter about friends and family, he wanted to go to college and thus he needed to be in the academic section. The guidance counselor leaned back in her chair, folded her hands on the desk and said: “you know full well that your family could never afford to send you to college. Young man, why don’t you accept the fact that you would be happier if you were in the proper section?” The young man replied: “It is my right to be put in any section I am qualified to be in. My family, my poverty, my being unhappy, and my lack of having friends in the academic section are not reason for denying me my right to be in the academic section.”

The young man was allowed to be in the academic section. While it was true that he never bonded with anyone and was never involved in any social affairs, he did graduate … with honors. Had he allowed a misguided system to deny him his rights the young man would have never realized his dream to graduate from college.

BIBLE TEACHINGS ABOUT EQUAL RIGHTS

Let every Christian understand that the issue of equal rights in marriage is only a secular issue because there is no possible way a Christian should ever be guilty of denying a person their equal right. After all, we serve a God who is just and fair to all persons and treats all persons with the same measure of rights and obligations. Moses told the people: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:17) Peter made this concept even more clear when he said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34) Equal rights for all persons is established and demonstrated by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; thus our recognizing the rights of all people is what God expect from those who call themselves a Christian.

The only distinction God makes with mankind is relative to a person’s obedience to the gospel message. In fact, God went so far as to give us all the same starting point in our journey through life: everyone on the earth has sinned and therefor all have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) This means that every single one of us were initially guilty of rebellion toward God and we were all destined to eternal damnation; for we all were without the free gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Not only did God give us all the same starting point, He also extended His love and salvation to who were willing to come to the knowledge of truth regarding Jesus Christ. (John 3:16, I Timothy 2:4) God makes no distinction with mankind because His saving grace is given to all people who are willing to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. (Titus 2:11-12)

Even amongst those who have died to self-interest and been reborn as servants of Jesus Christ there is no distinction. Paul told the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Paul also told the Colossians: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11) It should be obvious to a Christian that we cannot make a distinction between those in the family of Christ and we cannot make a distinction between those who are lost. The bible clearly supports the position that equal-rights belongs to all people.

REALITY OF MARRIAGE

Before we look at how the Christian concept of equal-rights applies to the secular issue of federal recognition in marriage we need to better understand the role of religion in marriage. Today we like to paint a romantic picture of ancient marriage, regardless of whether it is filled with religious pomp or pagan ritual. The truth is far different. Historically, marriages were contractual agreements between families or communities of people. It was not uncommon for the bride and groom to be excluded from all negotiations. In most cases, the fathers of the couple arranged the marriage for economic, family and social reason, and the marriage was made official through a witnessed contract: verbal or written. A wedding celebration may have followed the contract, but in many areas there was no official wedding ritual or ceremony. Quite often the most formal ritual was escorting the husband and wife to the bedroom, where witnesses watched to confirm that the wedding had been consummated. Eventually, the legal dispersing of land and assets caused civil authorities to get involved in recording, and sometimes controlling, marriages. The fact is that religion was never a controlling factor in marriage, and seldom even a consideration.

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