a proposal to remove the word "marriage" from our legal discussions
I'm a conservative, born-again Christian.
I do believe the Bible forbids homosexual expression, and I've written many times about that contention, but I don't think those prohibitions can be legislated in a multi-cultural society such as America's.
I do think marriage, in the Bible is only between one man and one woman, in agreement with Jesus, see Mark 10:5-9. I have presented many explanations on this blog why gay marriage is not a Biblical option.
I think marriage, from it's earliest description is a concept from the Bible, see Genesis 2:22-25. I'm not aware of any earlier data, but am welcome to any if found. I believe marriage is fundamentally a religious word that no longer makes sense in our more religiously diverse culture.
I live in the United States of America that believes in a separation of church and state, but that should not mean a dismissal of the population's religious concerns. Those of us who are religiously conservative object to calling a non-heterosexual union a marriage.
I'll say it again, "Marriage" is a religious word. Perhaps it is time to return that word to the religious, and replace the term "marriage" in the law books with "civil union" or "domestic union" or "civil partnership" or some other legal contract term. That way "marriage" can be practiced as understood by each religious body. Those who are irreligious can call their unions whatever they want. Liberal Christians can call gay unions marriage if they want. But everyone can have a civil union from the state. That way, there will be no "separate but equal" issue, a complaint of advocates of and sympathizer to gay marriage.
Parallel legal terms have worked, as argued for here, and it seen to work great for both gay and straight marriages in France, and the French Catholic church (at first against the law now see no issue with it), and U.S. straight couples now seem to be trying out civil unions instead of marriage, but "separate but equal" just does not fly in our society because of its abuse in history. If everyone could be recognized, who wanted it, as legal domestic partners, with all the rights from the federal government, then the Defense of Marriage Act, another hurdle in the hindrance of federal rights where states recognize offer equal rights, could be bypassed.
My proposal does not mean that clergy could no longer partner with the state, but they would no longer sign marriage licenses, but rather domestic partner licenses. I don't think the opening of the floodgates will result in a wash of gay partnerships but rather more straight partnerships, who dread the "M word" but want to preserve privileged rights including divorce, because without marriage, one can't get a divorce and can be left stranded economically.
I value comments from the left and right on this proposal. I find the wisdom of the NYT editorial by Blankenhorn and Ruach very helpful,
In all sharp moral disagreements, maximalism is the constant temptation. People dig in, positions harden and we tend to convince ourselves that our opponents are not only wrong-headed but also malicious and acting in bad faith. In such conflicts, it can seem not only difficult, but also wrong, to compromise on a core belief.So if this proposal can help the church demonstrate that we love our neighbors by not denying rights they feel entitled to, by denying ourselves the privilege of power in our society, by living according to the norms of a heavenly culture to provide a contrast of hope, then maybe the kingdom of Jesus in America will be more lamb-like with plowshares instead of swords.
Nuance come from conversation, so please comment here and refine this idea.
See similar proposals from two Pepperdine law professors, expanded on by Time mag, and Ms. mag, and supported by at least one atheist.