John Mark Reynolds at Scriptorium Daily writes about the California Court’s decision to allow homosexual marriage, and commits many of the fallacies I mentioned in the previous post. I sent him this letter:
John Mark Reynolds confuses causation and correlation.
He says, “Growth in marriage was a good sign of civilization. Breakdown in the monotheistic idea of marriage was a good sign of coming decadence and social decay.”
He’s god it backwards. Breakdown in marriage is a sign that decadence and social decay has already occurred. Done deal.
If it is the Christian’s responsibility to be salt and light to the world, and it is the Christian’s influence which helps keep us away from social decay – all ideas which I am skeptical of – then it is because the Church has failed to do its job that social decay is occurring.
Here enters the confusion about what the Church’s job is. Is it to oppose changes in laws to preserve the legal definition of marriage? I don’t think so. Political action by Christians is the at the most the lowest of their responsibilities. I have to say that the primary way Christians act to preserve the idea of marriage is by practicing good Christian marriage.
Why is there a decay in the “institution” of marriage in America? Because Christians are not doing marriage right. They enter into it for the wrong reasons, and fail to make God the center of it.
Reynolds goes on to make one of the most common errors in Christian circles – making a consequentialist argument for a peculiar ethical standard. He tries to say that relationships between opposing sexes are different from those among the same sex, and this somehow proves that marriage should be reserved to the man-woman definition.
Then he gets defensive, saying that “Christians have lost the word, (and) will have to start over with a new word to describe what men and women are doing.” Why not focus on the difference between covenant and contract? If Christians really want to make their definition of marriage peculiar they will stop applying to the state for marriage contracts. They will start ignoring the state, and excluding it from their uniquely religious institutions. That would be peculiar and fraught with significance. If Christians can make marriage work without the threat of force which is incumbant in the application to the state for a license, they will then be demonstrating that they are staying together in order to witness to the world and thus honor God, rather than for the temporal benefits a state-sanctioned license provides.
In one paragraph he calls marriage a sacrament, and then two later he involves Christian civilization, duly noting that “advantages have been lost,” due to the redefinition of marriage. Precisely. Marriage has been defended by Christians, and other incumbents, as a privilege they don’t want extended to others. First, there is no such thing as Christian civilization unless you are talking about the church alone. The idea that the church ought to dominate a civilization is frightening to me. It imbues the church with authority to use force and destroys those pacifist elements which make the church unique. Second, the idea of Christians attempting to protect a privilege, especially a legal privilege, is downright ugly. It is not anything like what I would call Christian.
Finally he asks, “Why was our institution hijacked?” and blames the ominous “left.” He ignores the fact that whenever and institution affords some individuals a privilege over other individuals an incentive is create for the “out” to get “in.” Privileged franchises always will be expanded, especially when they enjoy the sanction of the state. If Christians want the franchise to remain limited, take away the privilege. Instead of fighting over whether California should be allowed to sanction marriage for homosexuals, the church can stop accepting the state’s sanction of marriage among Christians, and work to eliminate the franchise altogether.
He says in conclusion that marriage “came from God to man.” But then we tried to involve the state, which came from Satan to man, and we finally forgot about the covenant definition and spent all our time fighting over the legal definition.
The Church, for this reason among many others, really needs to step away from the state, and center down on being the Church.