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August 13, 2010

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professor, thanks for the article, even though some American legal issues I still did not understand. The question I have is about your last paragraph, which I commented on your last post. How the church can balance their negotiation in the political arena? You mention the fight of law opposing alcohol, but against laws of sunday. Is not this a contradiction...someone can acuse us of pick and choose and not defenders of liberty. What do you think about it?

I have an unshakable belief in the biblical model of the family. That said, I am not convinced that the Seventh Day Adventist church should join in with other Christians to support proposition 8. As I have studied the issue of gay marriage I have come to the conclusion that my opposition to gay marriage is rooted in religious belief and conviction. Outside of that belief I have no rational basis to oppose gay marriage. States have offered the following reasons why marriage should be between a man and woman only: marriage is for procreation. Second, marriage provides the most stable arrangement for the rearing of children. Finally, there is the need to preserve scarce State resources.

These arguments are seriously flawed. First we do not preclude non-child bearing couples from marrying. Second we do prohibit the unmarried from having children. Finally, the fact that allowing same-sex partners to marry will increase the financial burden on the States is not a reason to prohibit gay marriage. It is not surprising that there are Judges who have found the foregoing reasons irrational.

We now face a significant challenge. Gay marriage is a serious threat to religious freedom. How will gay marriage impact the interpretation of our non-discrimination laws. In fact, we can than Justice Scalia for the challenges to religious freedom because of his decision in the Smith case. Catholic Family Charities has closed up shop in every jurisdiction where gay marriage has become the law. Time will tell how gay marriage impacts the Adventist Church's institions.

How should we respond? Should we utilize the power of the State to fight the gay marriage movement or the power of the gospel. The first reality that we must confront is the fact the the Christian Church on a whole is divided over this issue. As Christians we should resolve this issue as a movement before we confront the secular society. I firmly believe that the Adventist movement is based upon the call to reform and where that reform fails, then we must separate. We must not fall to the lure to use the State to impose our sincerly held religious convictions.

The Sabbath and Marriage are the two institutions that we find inaugarated after the creation event. How many of us would join a movement to enforce the Sabbath as the law of the land. I can think of no reason why marriage is any different. We teach and preach the Sabbath. We should do the same for marriage.

These are my thoughts at the present time. I look forward to learn from others on this issue.

Thank you Rodrigo and Jash, you both make good points and ask good questions that are sufficiently related for me to answer together. To summarize your point, as I understand it, is that as we would not enforce Sabbath observance, why would we protect traditional marriage through the use of law? Is that not inconsistent, and an imposition of our religious views regarding marriage?

Jash's point about the two institutions is a very good one that I will begin with. These two institutions are based in two separate parts of God's law. The Sabbath command comes from the first table, marriage is found in the second, in a combination of the 5th command (about honoring parents) and the 7th command (forbidding adultery).

The first table regulates our relationship with God, and should not be legislated by man. The second table involves our relationship with each other, and the Bible suggests that it is the proper realm for state oversight (Rom. 13). All governments regulate aspects of the morality described in all the command of the second table, from child delinquency laws, to murder, theft, and perjury laws, to laws relating to marriage and divorce.

An important point here is that governments regulate these matters not because they appear on the second table, but because they are obviously concerned with important issues for society. So these matters are regulated not just in the Christian west, but also in the Islamic middle-east and the Asian far-east, even where the Bible has historically had little or no influence.

I would particularly take issue with Jash claim that there is no reason to be against gay marriage other than religious reasons. There are very clear scientific findings that children do best, socially, emotionally, educationally, when they are raised by a mother and a father. There are elements that both genders bring to child-rearing that complement each other. There are also pathologies that are found in same-sex relationships relating to rates of disease, abuse and instability that are not healthy for child-rearing. These are not "religious" reasons, but are reasons accessible to all who can reason about these things in an informed way.

This is the reason that we were not inconsistent as a church to support liquor laws, but to oppose Sabbath laws. Liquor laws had to do with preventing real harm to society, in terms of children and wives abused, increase of crime, and promotion of unemployment. Sabbath laws have to do with trying to regulate people's relationship with God, which is off limits for the state. In my opinion, laws protecting traditional marriage and its role in the raising of children are like the liquor laws, and not like the Sabbath laws.

Nick

I agree that laws that prohibit danger to children, those the prevent disease and abuse are good laws. I also agree that laws that prohibit alcohol creating abuse among people are also good. The State in that event is very helpful to guide those whose beliefs are not religiously savvy but need further study. As well, I am glad to see Mormons taxed in Proposition 8, as they should be. There should be no free lunch for people who seek power and protection as well as a free lunch under religious laws, as a means of hiding from laws and the same applicable laws that apply to all other types and groups of people on the planet, since mormons ceate a huge population on the planet to use its resources.

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Memory, Meaning & Faith is a blog covering Christian history in light of contemporary issues.

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