Laissez Faire Marriage?

wedding rings

By Steve Deace

There are three kinds of people nowadays advocating the state get out of the marriage business altogether.

One group is just using this terminology to camouflage the fact they’re really pro-homosexuality, and they just don’t want the conservatarian crowd they’ve aligned themselves with to know it for whatever reason.

The next group is made up of politicians more concerned about earning the approval of the secular/liberal media than they are their own voters, so this is their attempt to punt rather than fight. They clumsily adopt this position with tortured statements that make them look like they’ve never seriously thought about the purpose behind the oldest institution of God’s created order. While attempting to be wise they come across as fools on this issue.

The third and final group is people who genuinely want to see the power of the state over our lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness put back within its original Constitutional limits. It is to this third group that today’s morning briefing is written, because the first group is frauds and the second group is gutless. Thus, rather than casting pearls unto swine, I prefer to spend my time speaking to those who are honest and critical thinkers.

If you’re going to advocate the state get completely out of the marriage business, which I don’t necessarily disagree with in an ideal world, you need to understand what it is you’re really asking. Sometimes some of you doing so say this as if this is as simple as waving a magic wand.

But it’s not that simple at all.

Consider you cannot remove the marriage question from the state completely, unless you are willing to also remove probate courts and divorce courts as well and put them back in the hands of the church and not the state. Then you’d also have to completely reform the tax code and tax law, since much of that is also based on marital status. Then you still have the question regarding things like spousal privilege (i.e. you can’t be compelled to testify against your spouse in open court). If folks are going to retain that right, don’t we have to first know what a “spouse” is?

I think many people that are sincerely advocating the state get out of the marriage business don’t really understand the depth of what it is they are asking. You are essentially asking us to return to a pre-Civil War civilization (the first government-issued marriage licenses occurred in the mid-1800s). Therefore, it would take a greater uprooting of our current understanding of Americanism than elimination of sacrosanct entitlement programs would. The state’s regulation of marriage is older and far more embedded than even the welfare state itself. It would be easier to privatize social security than it would be to de-regulate marriage.

Thus, if you really would prefer the state get out of the marriage business altogether, it’s not the simple route to diffusing the hot-button political battle over marriage that threatens to rip apart the Republican Party at the seams. Quite the contrary, it is the most radical and difficult to implement solution of them all. Ironically enough, because the church would have to step in to fill the void left by the state in most of these situations (including divorce and child custody cases), this solution would actually empower religious institutions’ influence over the culture all the more.

Literally every aspect of American jurisprudence (tax law, probate law, criminal law, civil law, etc.) currently hinges on at least some understanding of the definition of marriage. So you cannot remove the state from the marriage business as an ala carte option, but it would have to be a part of a sweeping reform package across the board.

For example, this would have to include a massive overhaul of the federal income tax code in place since the enactment of the 16th Amendment. Until those advocating the state get out of the marriage business altogether communicate they understand that, and what their plan is to implement those sweeping reforms, it’s a position that sounds great in the comments section of blogs and on Facebook walls but frankly is as likely as finding a pro-life Democrat.

Still, if this is sincerely your long-term goal (and make no mistake, a long term goal this will be) you have a friend in me. However, in the meantime we still must wrestle with the question of what to do in the interim.

Do we validate relationships western civilization, heavily influenced by Biblical moral teaching, has up until now said for over a thousand years were immoral, destructive, and counter-procreative? Do we understand the reasons why western civilization came to those conclusions? Do we allow the validation of these relationships to impose upon freedom of speech and religious liberty, which has happened in every other country that has gone down this road? These questions will be determined long, long, long before you get the state out of the marriage business. And the answers to these questions have potentially dire consequences for the culture in the here and now.

As you can see, maintaining the position of getting the state out of the marriage business altogether may be a noble aspiration, but if it doesn’t include rules of engagement for the current battlefront it is the culture war equivalent of the French hiding behind their Maginot Line.

(You can friend “Steve Deace” on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow)

Photo Credit: !Shot by Scott! via Compfight cc

  • Joe Rounceville

    Hi Steve, I’m in your “third group”, so I’m who you addressed this article to. First I think we can sum up your whole article as: “We shouldn’t do the right thing because it is hard.”. I reject that notion. Second, I think you dramatically overestimate how entrenched marriage licensing is. A marriage is simply a common law partnership contract between two people as far as the State is concerned. Judges adjudicate contract dissolutions (“divorce”) all the time, and have forever. Finally, you mention that the Church must step in to play a more traditional role if we go that direction. While this would be true for those who chose to put themselves under the jurisdiction of the Church, it would not be true for those who simply formed a secular domestic partnership. And, for those of us who would voluntarily place ourselves under the jurisdiction of a Church, I say: What’s wrong with that? Frankly, the nanny state has been encroaching on the domain of the Church for well over a century. This would be a rare roll back of that decline.

    As for things like the right to not testify against your spouse, we simply extend the right to all partnerships, or we acknowledge that it’s not necessarily a viable right in the first place (If my spouse commits a terrible crime, how exactly is justice served by allowing me to obstruct an investigation?)

    Anyway, I think this is the best option given the realities of where we are. So far the 14th Amendment hasn’t been invoked on this issue, but it’s coming, and it’s easy to see how that will go.

    • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

      If I were to summarize Steve’s article, the summary would be “If you wish to remove the state completely from marriage, then you must take time to fully understand the ramifications, acknowledge them, and present a plan for how to deal with them. If you don’t, it is nothing but an empty talking point.”

      Steve took the time to outline how much the state already handles with regards to marriage. Yes, it is a contract between two people, but in the case of an actual marriage, it is more than that. If you listen to Steve’s show, he actually just had a segment about this in hour two of his show on 3-13-13.

      So short answer is, you’re doing exactly what Steve just warned you against; failing to consider what it is you are actually asking for, to the detriment of your own stance.

  • James L. Greenlee

    Wouldn’t it be easier, less disruptive, and logical to simply draw a clear distinction between church marriages (“holy matrimony”) and civil marriage? After all, atheists, pagans and wiccans get civilly married, and don’t have a traditional church service at all.

    • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

      You might want to re-read the article. Steve did a good job of explaining why that is a terrible idea.

      You want to had MORE POWER to the state to control people’s lives. You just empowered THE STATE to decide if you can be married for the purposes of all those legal situations outlined above.

      You also have given no guidelines for what should constitute a “marriage”. Whatever someone wants to marry, why can’t they? All the same arguments we have now will happen, only you have stripped more power away from the citizenry and added it to the state.

      Before we get distracted by the current arguments about marriage, remember, you wanted to remove “religion” from the “civil” definition entirely… so what can’t a person “marry”? If you say there are no restrictions, then someone can marry whomever they need to whenever they need to in order to exploit legal loopholes you are now creating. Can someone marry his or her property to try and tap into otherwise shared benefits? Trying to force health insurance to, for example, cover home repair? Less outlandish but probably more dire, imagine how many criminals will happily embrace “polygamy of convenience” so that “spousal privilege” now extends to, if not everyone in the organization, anyone of importance.

      • James L. Greenlee

        Right now, gay people are making the legal argument for civil marriage equality. They are winning that argument, or at least the momentum is on their side. Presently, to be married, you have to be legally consenting, unrelated adults. Objects, animals and the like cannot consent, and it’s frankly a ridiculous point to make. Also, polygamy (another red herring) opens up a whole other can of worms that same-sex marriage does not. Many, many laws would need to be written to accomodate multiple spouses. With same-sex marriage, there are no significant changes made, beyond a term here or there, which I don’t think is particularly cumbersome.

        I’m not arguing for any more power to the state than it presently has. There is virtually no chance that the status quo of the state re: marriage is going to change or be reduced. It’s an unrealistic argument, which is the premise of this article. I’m merely suggesting that people who get so fired up about same-sex marriage REMEMBER that we’re not talking about religious sacraments or “holy matrimony.” Just civil marriage equality. Nobody’s stepping on the church’s toes. They’re allowed–just as they always have been–to refuse any marriage they want to perform.
        Religion is ALREADY removed from civil marriage entirely, unless the participants in the marriage WANT religion there. I’m legally married, have been for five years. There was no religious element to the ceremony.

        • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

          Right now, some people are making the case for stripping rights away from the people of the United States. Anyone claiming this is about “marriage” equality is lying or ignorant.

          First, “marriage” isn’t a right; rights don’t require other people. If you think I have a “right” to marriage, then does the state have to “protect” that right by compelling someone to marry me? Do they at least have to “help” me find a spouse? No, they don’t, because marriage isn’t a “right”.

          Second, the other dirty secret is that this isn’t about “equality”, because guess what? Someone who wants to marry someone outside of the bounds of actual marriage, they aren’t asking for equality because they already have it. A “gay” man has the same ability to find a consenting, adult woman who is a non-relative and not married to another person and marry her, the same as I do. The difference? He doesn’t WANT to, and that isn’t the same thing.

          Instead he is asking the state to TAKE AWAY from our rights. It is asking the government to seize power it isn’t due, and in conjunction with other laws (though I suspect most to be “pretend legislation” that is in and of itself illegal), infringe upon my actual rights, like my freedom of religion. It has already happened in other countries that have perverted marriage in this manner, including diluting it into mere “civil unions”.

          Third, the idea that “civil unions” need some special legislation is also false, unless local law prohibits the arrangement. Any two people can have contracts drawn up to unite their property and secure most of what comes with “marriage”. The things that don’t? Those are the things that only apply to marriage, not “contractual domestic partnerships”.

          We can go into the details if you like, but before we do I want to you ask yourself “Does the reason for this benefit existing apply exclusively to marriage and not a contractual domestic partnership?”

          You may have tried to strip religious meaning from the ceremony of your marriage, but if you called it a “marriage”, you didn’t. If it is currently recognized by the state as a marriage… you didn’t. You have been ignoring the religious implications, but you haven’t eliminated them. If you truly wanted it to be as free as possible from religious ideas, you would have created a contract simulating all the legal aspects of marriage not unique to marriage.

          That is true even if there is no “grounds” behind the religious traditions of marriage. If, for example, the God of the Bible is real, you definitely can’t have marriage without it being a religious experience. If I take the name of a religious ceremony or institution and insist that is the name of the thing I am doing, I haven’t escaped the religious influence… and if the religion behind it ends up being true, I have merely “done it wrong”.

          • James L. Greenlee

            Nonsense. I’ve been married for five years. What did I take from you by getting married?

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            “Nonsense” is a good word for it.

            When you rob something of meaning, you take something from me.

            If you claim the mantle of “marriage” then however you conduct yourself counts as being “married” to the general populace. Why do you think defending “marriage” has been so difficult? It has been dragged through the mud by people who don’t value it for what it is… including the impact it has had on the children, now adults with children of their own, and sometimes children of those children.

            Oh, and even if you do manage to live up to the ideals of marriage… your very opposition to those ideals (while still choosing to take the title of “married”) still erodes those principles.

            So we have the actual impact the distillation of marriage has had on society and what that takes from me (and everyone else, whether they are aware of it or not).

            We have the laws you have to alter, usually improperly and ignoring the foundational law of this country, and what that takes from me (and everyone else, whether they are aware of it or not).

            We have what this tries to take from me and others in the religious context, especially if my views on such matters are correct.

            Oh yeah, did we forget all the laws and regulations mentioned above in the article? Whether they are right or wrong to exist, you deny the people tax money if you receive undue tax benefits, as an example.

          • James L. Greenlee

            Wait a minute. Do you think I’m not a taxpayer?

            If this were a hypothetical, you might have a leg to stand on. But as I said, I’ve been married 5 years. We’ve been together 15. It isn’t up to you to judge whether my marriage is up to snuff. It’s none of your business. My marriage takes nothing tangible from you. And it only takes INtangibles if your nose is in my business. Mind your own business, and you won’t be affected at all.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            Let me get this straight:

            Who brought up your “marriage”?

            You did.

            Who asked me how it affected me?

            You did.

            Who asked for civil marriages sanctioned by the government to be the focus of the discuss… which is in fact asking a government “of the people” to stick our collective “noses” in your business?

            That’s right, you did. Again.

            If “minding your own business” is the answer… why didn’t you? You chose to get married… not form a private contract between you and your spouse in order to bypass any of these concerns. Instead, you stuck your nose into others business. You sought government approval for your union.

            This is before we consider how wrong you are; I was being affected by people ignoring the importance of marriage since before I was born, in how it has affected the world I grew up in, and the lives of children touched by it.

            We know from watching how people whose faith teaches that homosexuality is a sin have their freedom of religion and speech impeded by meddling governing bodies in the countries that have gone down these paths; by people submitting some of their personal freedom so that Almighty Gov can tell others “you have to respect this union!”

            Tell me… what if the government could withdraw from your bank account so long as they replaced the money before you had a chance to know it was missing? A “forced interest free loan”. It would be restricted to electronic commerce; nothing but numbers that may represent wealth, but are themselves intangible. The laws would be set-up so you never had to worry about any actual money being missing.

            The government would still be out of bounds, violating the law, and you will have lost one of your actual rights. You may not have lost anything tangible, but you definitely lost something.

          • James L. Greenlee

            Not the point, dude. I had to bring it up to discuss it. I’m telling you it can only BOTHER you if you let it. If you obsess about it. Before I told you I was married, you had no idea. So it was IMPOSSIBLE for you to know if I “took” something from you. And you have not illustrated how it affects you at all either way.

            You have a bizarre notion of what religious freedom entails. You do not have the right to have all of your religious beliefs reflected in law. When it comes to civil law, you have no right to expect that they comport with the Ten Commandments. An observant Jew doesn’t get to demand that pork not be available to EVERYONE. My eating a shredded pork sandwich at a government commissary is NOT a violation of that person’s religious freedom.

            Look, I’m an atheist. I don’t give a flying flip if my marriage gives you an acid tummy. You don’t have the right to tell other people they can’t get married because YOUR religion says so.

            Again, it’s about minding your business.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            Not the point?

            You throw your “marriage business” in my face, and then complain I am sticking my nose into it… and that doesn’t matter? Yes, while not a life or death issue, it does matter. Given that this is just a conversation on a message board, that really flavors the discussion.

            As for your marriage “not affecting me”, already debunked that, and on the assumption you are a man (given your screen name and photo) married to a woman. You may not recognize anything as “holy” given that you are an atheist, but your words and actions can and will reflect upon “marriage”. Now… this is just one of the many issues we’ve addressed.

            If you are from the United States of America, then you are part of a government that recognizes your rights as coming from God. You may not believe in that God but surprise… you are beholden to “religious law”. You want to chuck all of it, you need to explain how it is now supposed to work, at least if you want to engage in a debate like this.

            You have the freedom not to believe in God. You do not have the freedom to alter how the laws in this country function without following proper procedure. You do not have the freedom to take away other people’s freedom. You know, that thing you do when you say “Hey! Let’s separate marriage, which all these laws and legislation (pretend or legit) recognize and were created for, and let’s substitute in something new!”


            If you meant what you said, you would indeed favor the government cease recognizing “marriage”… because without all the trappings, marriage is just another contract, requiring no special laws or consideration. You need institute nothing in its place; no “civil unions” or “civil marriage”. If the citizens wish to refer to themselves as being “married”, go through religious ceremonies, etc. that then becomes their business. Laws and policies we currently have that favor “marriage” need to be removed, not broadened to include unions they were not intended for.

            It is interesting that you had to resort to just making stuff up by the end. Pretty sure you like that the government does enforce parts of the Ten Commandments; you have a right to life (and protection from murder) because it was one of those “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.

            You eating something against some people’s religious dietary restrictions is not the same as you taking existing law and applying it to a new “thing” you have created, insisting that this new thing is somehow the same as the old (“civil marriage” versus “marriage”), especially given your repeated insistence they are not the same. You trying to alter laws without following the proper channels is about much more than my religious freedom.

            Speaking of which, my freedom of speech and my freedom of religion actually do give me a right to say that some people can’t get married. If I don’t have that right, how can you have a right to tell me otherwise? I don’t have a right to harass someone with it. I can’t barge into your home and start screaming at you (nor would I).

            Now… according to your logic, when do people have a say in the marriage of others? Government is made up of people, after all, so there has to be some time unless there are absolutely no restrictions on it. Besides the extreme examples (where we do not restrict it to two people), what about age of consent or competence? What about close relatives?

            If two 15-year-olds want to get married… more power to them? If 15 years later, the couple is no longer married but has a 15-year-old son or daughter, is it now fair game for either parent to marry their own offspring?

          • James L. Greenlee

            What a lot of hokum. Yes, I’m a man. I’m married to a man. Our laws are NOT based on God. Where are you getting that? And civil marriage is ALREADY separate from religion. There is no religion in a civil marriage unless those getting married want it there. As for altering laws and not following proper channels, haven’t you been following things? We’ve been following proper channels. I was LEGALLY married–still am–in California.

            Do you understand that taxpaying citizens who do not follow your religion should not be bound by your religion’s rules?

            It is obvious why I’m invested in this topic, I have a personal stake. What in the world drives people like you? If you succeed in revoking my marriage, what have you gained? And if you fail, your life will have changed in no tangible way. I seriously don’t understand your side, other than the undeniable and blatant homophobia.

  • Gregg Jackson

    God has defined marriage as between one man and one woman .. There is no other definition no matter how some may try to alter the simple and clear meaning of words. Any law contrary to God’s law (in this case that marriage is one man and one woman) is legally null and void. This issue is not that complicated. The govt doesn’t possess the right to enact any laws at amy level of govt that contradicts “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” Period!

    • James L. Greenlee

      Utter nonsense. Religion does not dictate law, nor should it. If it did, why should it be YOUR religion in charge? And how would that be different from the dreaded “Sharia Law?”

      • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

        So… where does law come from?

        How do you arrive at it completely independent of religion… which in these circumstances includes any and all beliefs?

        • James L. Greenlee

          Law comes from legislators. We elect legislators. So, ultimately, law comes from people we entrust to make them. Saying they come from “God” is like saying they come from Superman or Zeus.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            So… if the legislators decide that slavery is “legal”, that is “law”?
            By what right does your government enforce its laws? The U.S. is “government by the consent of the governed”, but it is this way because when it was founded, people were believed to have rights from God. If you’re nothing but a balding ape, you have no rights that you cannot enforce yourself.

            You and other “balding apes” (and keep in mind, I am merely pointing out that “humans” are really a religious concept, so if there is no God, that is all I am as well) may agree on certain principals, but without the ability to enforce them, they are meaningless; in your model, you can only have law through tyranny… even if it is a tyranny by “the majority”.

        • AlphaDad

          Little late on the convo here, but seriously, dude, laws do not come from God. Is the law that I use my turn signal before making a turn sourced from God? Obviously not.

          Laws are created by humans. Some laws may have their origins or inspiration in religious teachings, but most do not.

          What you said, as I demonstrated, is false.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            Guys… try getting beyond the surface. It is like asking “Where does rain come from?” and being told I am wrong for discussing the water cycle because clearly “It comes from the sky!”. Traffic regulations are a small subset of laws, and even they tend to have basic religious backgrounds to them:

            1) First you have to justify “government” to begin with
            2) The idea that human life has value and that a person’s property should be protected in general again have their foundation in religious thinking, so even something like using a turn signal does have some basis in it.

            You don’t get to pull “law” and “government” from no where. You have to have a reason why people adhere to the laws of a country, why they submit to a government. You not only have to explain why people should obey the “laws”, but why they shouldn’t obey someone “else’s” laws.

            The United States of America was founded upon “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God”. This is a reference to the God of Christianity; for them it would be like us referring to the King of Pop and knowing someone meant Michael Jackson or the King of Rock and the person meant Elvis Presley. If you’ve listened to Deace show (or simply done adequate independent research), you already know this.
            If a “law” exists purely due to human whim, it isn’t law.

          • AlphaDad

            Wow… that’s pretty stretched logic there.

            Governments were not created by God, any more than laws are. Governments evolved as a practical matter, not a moral matter. And while many people have looked to their religion for guidance on the moral aspects of some laws, that is not always the case. History is full of documentation on this… from China to ancient Greece, non-religious philosophers and politicians sought solutions to management of human affairs.

            Essentially, what you’re saying is that all morality and concepts of what’s fair and right and just here in the U.S.A. comes from religion. Again, this is not true. There are many non-religious folks out there who have moral standards. Perhaps it is derived from some spiritual connection to a higher source, be it God or some other morally aligning power of the universe, but that is speculation on our part at best, and even if true, is completely separate from Christianity itself.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku


            Still waiting for you to actually back up your “arguments”. You keep trying to claim you can have government in some sort of moral and religious vacuum.

            You can’t. A religion (and I am including several different philosophies in there as well) doesn’t have to be officially expressed to be guiding governance. Tell me what laws you can arrive at in a moral vacuum? What governance?

          • AlphaDad

            I didn’t say laws are created in a vacuum of ethics or morality. I’m responding to your question/comment: “How do you arrive at it completely independent of religion?” My point is that while religions have played a role in shaping morality, they are not the only shapers.

            Consider democracy itself. This is not a Christian concept. The Greeks in Athens who predated Christianity by hundered, or perhaps thousands of years, if I recall my history correctly, were the first to experiment with representative governance.

            But, more importantly to the point of this thread, originally started by Gregg Jackson (who’s views you seem to be echoing) laws do get created outside of whatever version of “God’s laws” you believe in. Indeed, people of the same faith interpret their faith differently (let alone people of different faiths), and so, for Gregg or anyone else to claim absolute certitude about what is “God’s laws” or the “Laws of nature” is preposterous. (Sidenote: if we actually look at nature, there seems to be plenty of evidence that the “laws of nature” condones multiple mating relationships, and even homo-sexual relations, as has been documented on video many, many times.)

            There are plenty of Christians who, while being Christian, also believe that homosexuals have a right to marry one another. That does not necessarily mean they condone homosexuality (although some do). Rather, they recognize that in the same way they wouldn’t want anyone to impose beliefs on them, it would also be wrong to impose their own beliefs on others. That’s what living in a free country is supposed to be about. And so, while they may not condone homosexual acts, they hold in higher esteem the value – or morality of – that each of us “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
            that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” in whatever form that happiness may take, and to let it be up to God to judge who’s happiness was a sin.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            I am still not following you. Earlier statements indicate you don’t want people’s religious beliefs considered while making law. There are indeed things other than religious beliefs that can shape law… but “shaping” law is a good descriptor. Something is considered “wrong” based on beliefs, but actual data can help determine how best to remedy this wrong.

            Traffic laws were brought up earlier; surprisingly, that may be a good example to continue with after all. Why do we have speed limits? Shouldn’t a person have a right to drive their own vehicle as fast as they wish? Well, on their own property they might (various circumstances) but a person’s driving actions can quite easily affect other people negatively.

            Speed limits were set using the data available, such as road quality and condition (not just the road’s current state of repair, but things like how many curves it has) as well as expected vehicle quality to determine the speed limits. There is definitely room for debate about how some of this data was interpreted; some speed limits haven’t changed despite the significant changes in car safety and road construction that have happened over the decades. It also isn’t an exact science, so maybe the initial estimates were off. Ultimately though the laws have a moral basis, shaped by information and reason.

            So… what if you believe those speed limits were incorrectly set? There are proper procedures for addressing this and getting them changed. While one may choose to ignore them entirely, they jeopardize the safety of others, including those who did not make or support the incorrect speed limit. They can try to persuade a government official to change it… but it needs to be a government official with the correct authority. Convincing someone without that authority to “change” the limit isn’t truly changing the limit, and even if it is recorded as law it is both a fake law as well as that part of government stealing power and attempting to steal authority from where it properly resides.

            The Greeks still had laws based upon their own religious and philosophical views. Pure democracy isn’t exactly a good form of government, either. You need a common set of laws, properly structured, to prevent it from degenerating into mob rule; just because the mob takes a vote and abides by the outcome before engaging in an act doesn’t make it “right”.

            Now, funny thing is Israel was actually intended to have a representative form of governance. Yes, you had laws handed down from on high, but officials over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens were appointed to help judge and settle disputes, with the hardest cases being brought forth to Moses himself. Unfortunately as a people they didn’t keep those laws, nor did those in authority, and as a nation they suffered for it. Instead of admitting the real problem, they blamed it on their lack of an earthly “king”, which eventually they received because they demanded it. The more the “will of the people” was followed over “the Law” (including creating laws in violation of God’s law) the worse they did.

            Now… you begin to jump to conclusions again without adequately explaining yourself. Laws do not get created without the benefit of some religion, philosophy, etc. “Regulations” may be attempted without following a particulate religion, but the concept of true, just laws requires a belief system at its base, one that follows its own internal logic.

            You cannot, however, attempt to rely just on “logic” and “reason”. First, if there are laws that were created otherwise, they still have bearing on the new law. Second, you have to then start from scratch justifying “logic” and “reason”. For example, I expect a world where there are natural laws I can follow and comprehend, where there can be predictable outcomes. If you cannot predict such things, you cannot have logic and reason.

            Now, if you try to “reason” with people to determine law, you get no where. Data can give you an idea for something, but it can’t justify it. Where do your rights come from, and why should the government protect them? If you make a claim that there are certain inherent rights “simply because there are” then how are you anymore credible than someone that claims such rights simply are not? How do you measure which claim is itself correct?

            Ultimately in such a system, the closest you can come is being able to enforce a particular “morality”. Even concrete data isn’t much help; something may be beneficial for me, but by what right and authority are you allowed to tell me what to do? You may consider an action I commit wrong, but again, by what right and authority do you stand in my way? If it is purely by popular consensus, the most horrible crime one moment can be re-voted upon and become high law… and vice versa.

            Now… you threw up a strawman, but perhaps you weren’t aware of it. The Law’s of Nature and Nature’s God does not mean anything that happens in the natural world should be instituted as law for humanity. This is not what the expression means, and the belief system involved expressly states that the all of creation is under the curse of sin, and what was once “good” is now flawed and corrupted.

            It does allow us to periodically “reality check” things; for example we can look at the actual data of what happens due to a particular lifestyle, especially when “cost shifting” is not permitted. The glutton (which would be myself-I have struggled with my weight my whole life) will poorer health and quality of living than someone in the same circumstances but maintaining a healthy weight. Specific examples from each may contradict this, which is why the circumstances must be the same; the healthy guy who gets hit by a car and killed while jogging does not prove that the morbidly obese guy whose lives a long life and is fortunate enough that specific diseases never set in led a lifestyle that is somehow as healthy or more healthy than the jogger.

            The glutton is not free to live his life focused on instant gratification and “being happy” by living a life devoted to overeating. He does have a right that requires the government step in to provide for his lifestyle choice, and especially not to violate the rights of others, demanding their property and productivity to sustain his lifestyle, and robbing them of their religious rights and freedom of speech to force them to condone the glutton’s lifestyle.

            It has been clearly established, if you have paid attention, that there is no right to marriage for anyone. “Rights” don’t require the consent of someone else. I have freedom of speech… but I can’t force other people to listen to me. If there was a “right to marriage”, instead of being single I could petition the government to supply a spouse for me, possibly against that person’s wishes. Instead I am allowed to marry someone… but we have laws governing that.

            A person can only marry someone who is willing. Both parties must be recognized as having a certain legal standing… that is neither can be a minor or legally incompetent or insane. Close relations like brothers and sisters cannot marry. Neither can be married to someone else.

            A self-identified “homosexual” man has the same legal standing to marry a woman as I do, but like me (for now) he chooses not to exercise that opportunity. Even if I want something, I don’t have a “right” to take possession of it when it is not already mine; I can’t go into a store and claim a new TV because it is a part of “pursuit of happiness”. Nor can I go into another person’s home and claim that person’s TV; I can get it if I can pay the price someone is asking in order to transfer ownership from that someone to myself.

            You bring up “Christians” who accommodate certain individuals by performing marriage ceremonies for two men or women… but they do so in violation of Jesus’ own words. This isn’t one of those situations where there was something vague, but if you trust the Bible at all (…and if you don’t, you have to explain how you trust any of it, and how you decide what to pick and choose), you aren’t disagreeing with a bunch of “Bible thumpers” but the centerpiece of the faith, that you believe to be the only begotten son of God who died for your sins and was resurrected and ultimately ascended to heaven to purchase your pardon.

            Laws always impose beliefs upon others. You belief you have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of “happiness”, and the government imposes laws upon others to secure this on your behalf. What is more, you hypocritically impose your views on the matter against others, as does the lobby around the homosexual “life style”.

            Marriage is what it is, a union between one man and one woman for life. In the Bible, divorce is clearly only allowed due to sexual infidelity, and this is because of the nature of sexual sins. Some would argue for exceptions for things like spousal or substance abuse (I would be one of them), but even that is done by appealing to other laws. Whether you agree with the religious beliefs behind it, this is indeed what marriage is by definition. If you wish to change this definition you must follow the correct procedures to rewrite the laws.

            Our government already allows no fault divorce, and the expected consequence of violating “the Law’s of nature and nature’s God” are in effect. There are natural repercussions to destabilizing the family unit, the foundational block of a civilization, and we suffer from them now. The studies are in, and we know divorce hurts children; not just by reducing their performance in life, but even showing a correlation (that does meet the requirements to imply causation) with a shorter lifespan!

            So… just because not-immediately-religious schools of thought and information can shape laws is not the same thing as creating law without any reference to it whatsoever. Representative government still requires a belief system for its underlying laws to be anything worth celebrating. Marriage isn’t a right and altering the long-standing definition even if you disagree with it is indeed imposing your beliefs on someone else.

          • AlphaDad

            Wow. Such a long response is going to take a while to digest and reply to! But I will get to it.

            In the meantime, I want you to know I appreciate the thoughtfulness and civil nature of your responses. Quite refreshing.

            I suspect we are more in agreement than you may think. That said, nearly all that we’re currently discussing is fundamentally a matter of opinion, as opposed to something concrete – like which year and game Babe Ruth broke his own home run record. When we’re discussing matters of faith and morality, we are, by necessity, entering into subjective territory. For even in matters of established doctrine, it is still up to the individual to determine their own relationship to God, and to interpret their faith in a way that resonates with the mind and soul.

            One quick and obvious correction. You wrote:
            “You bring up “Christians” who accommodate certain individuals by performing marriage ceremonies for two men or women…”

            I did not say that. I said there are many Christians who recognize the right of other citizens to pursue happiness in ways which may not be consistent with Christian teachings. I did not say they perform the ceremonies. Many Christians – most in my experience – understand the obvious fact that that they cannot force the doctrines of their own faith upon others. The basic principle at play here is the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness in any and all of it’s forms, so long as it doesn’t interfere with other’s rights to the same. Yes… this last point opens a particular avenue of debate on which laws go beyond that principle, but my intent here is just to correct and clarify what I was saying, not to open a whole new avenue of debate. (In fact, one of the things we might want to do next is clarify exactly what we’re debating!)

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            It is definitely better to remain civil and take one’s time in a discussion like this. I already worry I was impatient as I finally decided I had waited long enough to respond here to some other comments.

            This is going to seem like a tangent, but I really want you to understand the world I have grown up in. By modern standards, which year and game Babe Ruth broke his own home run record isn’t truly concrete. I am not saying that is my standard, but the lamentable case of my generation and those coming after it, as well as a good chunk of the generation before it. “We” basically only believe something while we are seeing it, and sometimes not even then. We are literally taught that we can expect reality to change to match our tastes. It truly is insane.

            So… I never met Babe Ruth. He died long before I was born. With the level of chronological snobbery, already I could put forth a case that he never really existed, though at this point it would have to be very conspiratorial. Fast forward a few hundred years, and more and more doubt can be cast. By then, there would be no living witnesses and technology will be different enough that the data recorded as proof now could be written off as fiction. Even if he was acknowledged as ‘real’, his exact facts of his record could be challenged because really, they weren’t even using computers back then!

            Yes, it is utterly asinine but that is the kind of thinking we see proliferating.

            Clarifying what it is we are debating actually would be useful… as well as determining if we even agree on what the above article was saying.

            Many, many detractors seem to be struggling with reading comprehension. Now Steve Deace is definitely a human being capable of saying something really stupid, or saying something smart but in a manner that makes it sound stupid; frankly, every human I have ever met falls into that category so there is no reason to even suspect he would be an exception.

            When I read that article, it seemed pretty clear that Steve was concerned with:

            1) People supporting a course of action without understanding it.

            2) People ignoring the current dangers to their own rights.

            Also a lot of people miss this statement from the article:

            “Still, if this is sincerely your long-term goal (and make no mistake, a long term goal this will be) you have a friend in me. However, in the meantime we still must wrestle with the question of what to do in the interim.”

            Sounds like Steve is at least somewhat supportive of getting government completely out of the marriage business. What he is calling for are people to fully consider what this will require because it won’t be easy… and it seems apparent that this has become another sound byte.

            Those legitimately supportive of getting government out of the marriage business shouldn’t back down on it… but they have to remember it truly is a long term strategy. I always loved playing games as a kid and still do now, and one of the universal rules is that you can’t win if you’ve already lost. These games, unless they are so short that you can’t divide it into at least “short term” and “long term”, require you consider both.

            As this is a long term strategy, what do you think will happen if the redefinition of marriage is even momentarily successful but we do eventually remove the government from the marriage business? Do you really expect power hungry politicians to capitulate? No, they will do what they already do; cling to power as well as try to ignore unfavorable revisions. They’ll cite that the government once was in the marriage business and redefined marriage as being between… whatever the current goal is, and they’ll keep lying and calling it a “right” to enable even more government intervention in people’s lives.

          • AlphaDad

            Great to hear back from you… was beginning to wonder. But I agree it’s worth digesting and thinking for a few days. I’d say this is an excellent exchange of ideas, wouldn’t you? Beats the usual flame wars most people (on either side of any issue) only seem to be interested in.

            I’m curious… did you see my second, longer response? I ask only because your response doesn’t seem to correlate to any topics brought up there.

            I’d like to better understand what your point was with the Babe Ruth comments. It seems to me you’re suggesting that to a greater and greater degree most people – society at large – wants absolute, personally verifiable proof of anything in order to believe it. And, this is something you think is not a good thing. Correct?

            What are we debating? For me, what I was responding to, is not so much the article, but the particular line of reasoning Gregg, (at the top of this thread) put forward, and you defended. I disagree with several assertions:

            1.) That Christianity has exclusive domain over defining the word “marriage” for everyone else.

            2.) That our society’s laws are exclusively derived from God’s Laws and Nature’s Laws – certainly not as defined by a subset of conservative Christians, but not directly at all.

            3.) Laws are not “null and void” just because you don’t agree with them. (They can be bad laws, and there’s a number of ways to challenge them, including civil disobedience, but they are still laws nonetheless).

            From there, you asked “So… where does law come from?” And thus we began the conversation.

            So, I’ll wait to hear from you again on a.) the Babe Ruth clarification, b.) what we’re debating, and c.) hopefully a response on my longer message (which begins with: “Earlier statements…”).



            PS – if we are to debate anything, I think one of the prerequisites should be to have an open mind… to be willing to consider even the extreme possibility that the other person is right. Otherwise, what’s the point? If we absolutely can’t mentally accept the other’s argument, then it’s basically two TV sets spouting pre-recorded messages at each other, neither the wiser because there is no listening or thinking. What interests me in this discussion with you is that you come across as a sincere, thoughtful human being… someone I hope to persuade, of course, but also someone who will challenge me and perhaps enlighten me along the way. If we can both ‘engage’ (look, a pun!) in this way, I think at a minimum, it will be an interesting conversation, and at best, enlightening and fun for both of us. Agreed?

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            My how time flies.

            No, I haven’t forgotten our discussion, but have been distracted. Having re-read through the comment I missed
            earlier, I must express some doubts if we can have a dialogue.

            I ever agree to have an “open mind”. Yes, I am playing with words, but I am aware of it and am trying to make a point; please continue reading as I explain. Ironically if you meant to have an open mind in the means by which I am warning against, you would have to continue anyway, wouldn’t you? 😉

            I prefer to have a discerning mind, willing to consider ideas new and old when they are properly presented… because that way an idea lacking any merit that cannot be properly presented won’t win me over through vain repetition, nor do I miss something because I am completely shut off. I would
            say more, but Disqus is not liking my computer at the moment so I am actually typing this up elsewhere and copying it over. There is much for me to do, and I do wish to continue the discuss, but it will need to be at a leisurely pace, at least for the near future.

            I would even consider moving this discussion to e-mail, if you like; so that we aren’t having to dig up an old thread (at least outside of referencing old comments) if you would prefer. Again though, I do thank you for both your time and your consideration.

          • AlphaDad

            Good thing I just checked my junkmail folder. In the past, your posts went to my inbox, but not this time.

            I like using the thread because it allows me to reference the old posts and remind me of what we were talking about… staying on topic, etc. But, if Discus is giving you a hard time, we could try e-mail or something. Besides, if it keeps going to junkmail, I might miss one of your posts. Not sure how to communicate e-mail addresses… I wouldn’t want to just post it here, out in public.

            Re: Open mindedness, I think we’re on the same page, but not sure. Little qualifiers like “that cannot properly presented” make me wonder if you mean I have to present an argument based solely on scripture or something like that. But if you simply mean being clear and logical and using examples to back my claims, etc., then I think we’re good to go.

          • AlphaDad

            “Earlier statements indicate you don’t want people’s religious beliefs considered while making law.”

            I support the concept of a strong separation between religions and government. As a free country, I do not think that one set of religious beliefs should be imposed upon others who believe differently. That is not to say that religions doesn’t play a role. But I think the role is and should be indirect. In other words, I don’t want legislators citing the Scripture as ‘source code’ for our laws. But I think it is also obvious that, while religions are not the sole contributor, they do contribute significantly in shaping the values and mores of a society, which in turn provide the impetus for creation of laws (and potentially the change or nullification of laws seen as unjust).

            “They can try to persuade a government official to change it… but it needs to be a government official with the correct authority. Convincing someone without that authority to “change” the limit isn’t truly changing the limit, and even if it is recorded as law it is both a fake law as well as that part of government stealing power and attempting to steal authority from where it properly resides.”

            I’m not clear what you’re getting at here. I mean, I agree with everything up until the second half of the last sentence, at which point, I’m not clear what kind of fake laws you’re talking about, or who the fake authority is that got it on the books. How could a law get on the books by any other means than through a sanctioned government body?

            “If you make a claim that there are certain inherent rights “simply because there are” then how are you anymore credible than someone that claims such rights simply are not? How do you measure which claim is itself correct?”

            If it isn’t clear yet, let me state for the record that I understand that laws don’t occur in a vacuum. They are animated by the values and mores of the society, as I described above. At the same time, it is worth noting that that the Declaration of Independence opens with a powerful generative statement of values which I believe is our country’s moral compass:

            “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

            There are two things I want to pull from this. Pay attention to the details here. First:

            “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” Not, “The Laws of God and Nature tell us” or “The Scripture says” or “The Bible teaches” or “Jesus would agree”. None of that. The founders of our nation said, in other words: we declare it to be obvious and without need of further explanation or justification that the principles that follow are true and a God-given right.

            Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they created that statement of values in a moral vacuum. Obviously, not. At the same time. the founders essentially did what you said can’t be done: “This is true because we hold it to be true.” And it was one of the most powerful statements ever put into print, providing a moral compass to our nation and, indeed a source of inspiration for other nations and peoples around the world. Interesting, eh? (Perhaps we’ve misunderstood the meaning of “made in the image of God” to apply to our physical form, when what it really is supposed to mean is that we are little creators in our own way, with the ability to shape and mold our own world, be it for good or ill. Sorry – don’t meant to open another Pandora’s Box for debate. Just a passing thought.)

            Second: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” They assert that governments should get their authority (which includes lawmaking authority) from the governed, from the people, not from some religious source. I think I hear from you the idea that governments instead, do or should get their authority directly from a religious source, such as “Gods Laws” and “Laws of Nature”. If I understand you correctly, then I think this is our fundamental disagreement.

            You raise a concern about how laws under such a system can be enforceable or just. “If it is purely by popular consensus, the most horrible crime one moment can be re-voted upon and become high law… and vice versa.” Yes, thank goodness! Otherwise, if laws were inflexible and solely sourced from an ancient religious text, we’d still be selling our daughters off to slavery. More to the point, while there are no guarantees that any law will have the support of 100% of the citizenry – UNDER ANY SYSTEM – a democratic system such as ours which also provides constitutional guarantees of protection of the minority against tyranny of the majority is indeed about as close as you can get to a just system. And it allows for the flexibility to change and meet the needs and respect the values of today’s governed citizens, not the citizens of a hundred years ago. Based on what I hear you advocating for – and please correct me if I’m wrong – if I were to take your statements to their logical conclusion, Governments – or at least our Government – should hew very closely to Christian religious teachings as a guiding and constant compass upon which laws should be based. And yet, this is in stark contrast to the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence as well as the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.

            Regarding “Rights” and gay marriage… while we could debate the semantics, I think that misses the bigger point about the rights, or at least moral principle, of equal protection under the law. Obviously, gay people aren’t asking for equal legal standing to marry someone of the opposite sex. Essentially, they’re asking for the same legal standing to marry whomever they love, and to have equal legal benefits for themselves and for their families that heterosexual couples already enjoy. They certainly offer that same legal standing to you; you too may marry someone of the same sex.

            Your analogy about “possession” is deeply flawed. Gays are not stealing marriage, nor do you possess it. When one steals a TV, the one from whom it’s taken suffers direct material harm. In fact, the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples actually gives everyone – including you – new freedoms and legal options you never had before. Nothing lost, but rather, something gained.

            “Laws always impose beliefs upon others. You belief you have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of “happiness”, and the government imposes laws upon others to secure this on your behalf. What is more, you hypocritically impose your views on the matter against others, as does the lobby around the homosexual “life style”.”

            1st sentence corrected: I say we ALL have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and a constitutional government of the people, by the people, and for the people should first and foremost serve as the guarantor of those rights, equal protections under the law being one of them.

            2nd sentence… say what?!?! Slow down a minute and think about what you just wrote. The majority of Americans now agree that same-sex marriages should be allowed. Who is imposing upon whom? Marriage exists outside of Christianity, and so, a purely Christian definition of marriage is also an imposition upon others. Finally, no one is forcing you to marry someone of the same sex, nor to change your beliefs. Your argument – currently the rage among social conservatives – is an odd or ingenious victimization jujitsu in which the opponents of equality claim they’re now losing their “right” to advocate for and benefit from laws that discriminate against gays. Wow. Cry me a river, but I ain’t buying it.

            In closing, I will simply sum up that times are changing, and the definition of marriage is changing, and this is not the first time. Normative values of society, including but not limited to those related to marriage, have been constantly evolving, whether we look back 20 years, 200 years, or 2000 years. Christians are certainly entitled to define the term “marriage” as they wish within their own churches, and nobody from the outside should force them to redefine it within their organizations. Likewise, Christians do not have a copyright on the word “marriage” nor the right or authority to impose their traditional definition upon the rest of society.

            You don’t have to like it or accept it on a personal level. As a matter of fact, I would think the proper response for a conservative Christian is to do a better job reaching out to society and sharing their faith and values in the hopes that society will come back around. But it can’t be done through political means or by force of law. History has shown time and again, that you can’t legislate morality. Conservative Christians’ misplaced focus on politics and legal maneuvering merely causes people to resent and resist being told how to live, or what they can or can’t do (some even refer to Christian fundamentalists as “The American Taliban” – ouch!) If the USA is going the way of Sodom, which I suspect you believe, then the failure of American Christians is not political or legal in nature – that is merely the symptom, not the cause. The failure has been in winning the hearts, minds, and souls of your fellow citizens… in sharing your faith in a way that inspires and leads. But that is still your opportunity, and your right in this country. And that is something I think we can both agree is a very good thing.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            So after all this time, I get a shot at answering. I still had to make time for it and… I am a bit disappointed. I skimmed your last post months ago and frankly, skimming was a bad idea as the less I was aware of, the better a light it cast your response in.

            Let me get this straight; we are to take the text of the documents foundational to this land and interpret them not according to the language and worldviews of the writers… but to yours? Even if we assume that I also have it wrong, do a quick self-diagnostic; if reading what they wrote creates self-contradiction according to your worldview… isn’t it likely you’re reading it wrong?

            The founders of the United States of America held their equality in the eyes of the law (as opposed to their individual intellects, physiques, wealth, etc.) and basic rights as self-evident… because of their common worldview. They didn’t justify them because they are fundamental to that worldview. Requiring definition of them in such a context is not far removed from requiring a definition for “self-evident”.

            Still, besides this refusal to actually acknowledge what was being said by our founding fathers without filtering it through a worldview contradictory to their own and which forces them to make statements that are self-contradictory (these were learned men and if you asked them to justify their statement on the pretext of being an atheist they would likely have thought it a jest) there are the strawmen and fallacious arguments you levied against me and what I said.

            I am not perfect; my arguments are likely full of holes… but you’re not helping me find them. We are chasing the wind here, trying you to use your fundamentally flawed definitions and reasoning.

            “History has shown time and again, that you can’t legislate morality.”

            The entire point of laws are to legislate morality… history hasn’t shown that you can’t do that. History has shown that you can’t eliminate evil through legislating morality. If we can’t legislate morality, why have laws against murder? Theft? “Because those acts are are wrong”… is still legislating morality. “Because those acts infringe upon the rights of the individual”… is an explanation for why they are wrong, but is still legislating morality.

            No, people do not make true law. Even if you got every human being who has ever lived, is alive, or will ever live to agree that something is “right”… that doesn’t make that thing “right”; it isn’t a matter of winning a unanimous vote; if it is “right” then it was “right” regardless of their agreement and if it is “wrong” then it is still “wrong”. Circumstances can vary; intentionally ending another human’s life is always a terrible loss, but it can be a horrible crime, a necessary action, or even something heroic and noble depending on the exact circumstances.

            In the United States we are a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy. We are not to be governed by the tyranny of the majority. At this point you probably won’t get this (due to the lateness of my reply) but I think it is clear we do not have common grounds for further discussion. I’ll continue in my efforts to spread the love of Jesus… by fighting the people who hate others so much that refuse to warn someone that the life they live is leading them to destruction.

          • AlphaDad

            Welcome back! I was beginning to wonder if the comment thread had been closed to further commenting.

            Let’s take one point at a time, because it is not clear to me which part of my comments you’re responding to unless you quote them. For example, you said:

            “Let me get this straight; we are to take the text of the documents foundational to this land and interpret them not according to the language and worldviews of the writers… but to yours? Even if we assume that I also have it wrong, do a quick self-diagnostic; if reading what they wrote creates self-contradiction according to your worldview… isn’t it likely you’re reading it wrong?”

            Since I’m not sure which passages led you to this conclusion, I don’t know how to respond other than to say, “no, I was either unclear or you misinterpreted something”. But I suspect that what’s going on here is that we have fundamentally different understandings/interpretations of what the source documents and other history tells us about what the founder’s original intentions were. So, I’m not saying that we should reinterpret them my way, but rather, I’ve offered up what I understand to be an accurate interpretation, and clearly you disagree. If I’ve diagnosed our disagreement correctly, then the next step would be to determine who’s interpretations are most correct.


  • Barry Steinman

    i think Government should get out of the business of using the word “marriage”. I think government should be in the business of granting civil unions. Civil unions would have all the rights that marriages currently have. However the word marriage should not be under the rule of the civil government. Marriage implies a spiritual union. The civil government only has the right to deal in civil law – therefore civil unions. I think many of us that are saying the government should get out of the marriage business actually mean that we want government to stop using the term marriage. We think that term should be left to religious and private organizations. However government should be involved in civil unions and the legal aspects of them.

    • James L. Greenlee

      That’s pretty much what we already have, if you just use the term “civil marriage,” rather than “civil union.” No religion has a patent or trademark on the term “marriage.” People have been getting married sans religion down at city hall for centuries.

      • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

        Except anyone referring to their “union” as a “marriage” is indeed involving religion… especially in the United States where our country and laws are based on “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.

        No God? No law. You want to change that, do it through the proper means.

        • James L. Greenlee

          Phooey. It is unconstitutional to base American civil law solely on religion. No God, no law? Which God? Prove God. You can’t.

          • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

            I realize I am going to be oversimplifying a few things; this is an attempt
            at being concise, not and twisting the facts. Feel free to challenge
            them. I just realized I hadn’t responded to this 20 day old challenge. As long as this comment is… it would be two to three times longer otherwise.

            How can a government that secures its authority by appealing to the laws of nature and nature’s God reject having a law based upon religion? Murder is a crime because it violates a person’s right to life… and that right was recognized as being endowed on men by their creator.

            You still haven’t demonstrated how we have true law without an appeal to a higher authority. Yes, we disagree on which “god” to use, but you yourself still appeal to your own god, be it yourself, or the philosophies you subscribe to.

            As for proving God, first one must decide if one’s self truly exists. If one does not believe one’s own self exists… well, yeah, I can’t prove “God” to them. Next we move onto whether or not one will trust one’s own senses and mind. One can choose not to, but that again pretty much ends this conversation. If you do trust your own senses, pretty quickly you will learn that they aren’t perfect, but they are what you have.

            With that, you can begin examining nature. You will find things like life always coming from other life, and that systems have a tendency to seek out their least complicated state. We observe entropy; if something is technically “more organized”, it is because the more ordered state is a simpler one.

            Complexity can increase, but only through someone or something guiding things. The natural world can create some stunning things, but natural erosion can only do so much. Ultimately, one must accept that there is some unknown quantity behind it all, most reasonably some sort of intelligence responsible for it… or one must create a one-time occurrence that violates other natural laws. Until recently, I realize some favored a cyclical model, but last I checked that wasn’t panning out.

            Now, getting back to me (and you) as people, we have this concept of “right” and “wrong”. Oddly enough, despite it being our own concept, our own idea… we can and do violate it. I know I do some things I consider “wrong”. One can chalk this up to a delusion, but only by abandoning the principle entirely; that is, no instinctual concept of “right” and “wrong” can be tolerated, and you get to explain everything to me. I mean everything; the most basic of moral concepts, you will have to come up with an external explanation for, such as even carrying about however you then decide “right” and “wrong”.

            There is of course my personal relationship with God, but that isn’t exactly easy to demonstrate. I know where He helps me, and yes I mess up a lot. Still I can see how He has had a hand in my own life and even thoughts; spontaneous realizations that would require improbable coincidence otherwise.

            Now… there is one last thing to consider. Christians (barring some questionable sects) base their faith on their Scriptures. The New Testament is the best preserved ancient text we have; nothing comes close. Other works of that period that have been preserved, we know have been as much as half rewritten; not so in the case of the New Testament. As for the Old Testament, there is no equivalently aged text to compare it with.

            Of course, that doesn’t prove God on its own. It is impressive that the religion of the Israelites survived despite their many ups and downs, and then that Christianity built upon that foundation. Christianity was unpopular for some time, after all, and you could easily be killed for your faith. Now, the execution of Jesus is recorded history, and really so is his resurrection. This was a faith where producing a corpse would instantly settle things. His was a corpse that was guarded well according to history; unless you believe the disciples were really Naruto-style four-color ninja commandos.

          • Paula Coyle

            All you have to do is look at what happens in countries that try (in vain) to remove God from their culture. (China, Nazi Germany, USSR, etc) or put in a false one. They turn oppressive. Happens over and over. But you sound like someone who isn’t very interested in learning from history.

  • Eric

    The big mistake we are making is confusing the social, religious, romantic, cultural, and personal aspects of committed relationships with the commitments involving material, tangible, substantive, and measurable property and resources made between individuals. The former I think of as “marriage,” the later I think of as something along the lines of “civil union.”

    Government does not belong in the private, cultural, religious and social affairs of our lives. Especially not as any sort of picker and chooser. Our Constitution is very clear on that even if the legislators and courts aren’t.

    You believe your marriage is ordained by God and built on thousands of years of tradition? Your vows are sacred and written down in a big ledger in heaven? Okay, I won’t argue with you. God bless and more power to you. But my government has no business making decisions based on or about such beliefs. That’s for your church, your family, and friends.

    You want that person you call your spouse to be able to inherit your money if you hit room temperature, authorize medical decisions on your behalf if you’re in a coma, have access to the money you earn, and get a portion of it in the event of some breech of agreement? There’s already legal mechanisms (contracts) for all of that and this is the proper role of government, via the legal system, to be involved. Enforcing contracts.

    Religious fundamentalists want essentially the same thing as homosexuals on the other side of the marriage debate: They want the authority and power government on their group’s side, propping up their world view. The government isn’t there to take sides, and doesn’t belong on either side of this issue. The government needs to limit itself those powers that they can apply to all individuals equally. i.e. enforcing contracts (only as absolutely necessary) not religious and social institutions. Getting out of the marriage business is the first and best way to do that.

  • Craig Bergman

    There is no third group. Anyone pretending to be as such is either ignorant or a liar. Perhaps both.

    • Kyle Ambrose

      And you know this how?

      • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

        So far… based on the evidence.

        Steve wrote an article explaining that while he understands why government should get out of marriage, you have to actually pay attention to the full situation to properly do this; doing it without thought will fail, and will do more harm than good… so he encourages people to quit wasting time and resources trying to claim that is the “answer” when they aren’t doing any of the follow up work for it.

        Once you know the facts (that is, stop being ignorant), there isn’t anymore neutral ground. You can still want government out of the marriage business, but for now it is in that business and thus it is your business to make sure it does things as correctly as it can. I doubt I can give an example without being accused of “Godwinning” the conversation, so I won’t unless pressed.

        Obviously, you can only try to deceive others (and perhaps yourself) by claiming that it is a state’s rights issue (if that) and that nothing should be done in the federal arena at all… even while those wanting to “impose” a different definition of marriage are hard at work to make it even more of a government-intervention issue.

  • Kyle Ambrose

    To begin with, the author seems to think that he scares people by suggesting that a lot of government power will have to be reduced if we remove marriage from the sphere of government. Ooh! That’s so scary!

    Second, he seems to be arguing that if something is very difficult, it should not be done.

    Third, it would not be as difficult as he suggests. If the government deregulated marriage, many laws would simply become obsolete, inapplicable, or moot.

    • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

      Actually, he argues that it will be complicated and you should only say you are going to do it… if you are really going to take it seriously, and in the mean time don’t ignore everything else that is happening.

  • Kyle Ambrose

    Those of you who like the separation of church and state, do you like the current system in which religious clerics act as agents of the state when they sign marriage licenses?

  • Edward Lee MacFall

    How to deregulate marriage (for yourself):

    (1) Don’t get a marriage license.
    (2) While still following (1), get married.

    Not so hard after all.

    • Paula Coyle

      People do that all the time. And it may in fact come to that, where churches reject the state’s definition and have their own. (that is in fact what Steve has mentioned in the article). But make no mistake, this is not as simplistic as you make it sound. It removes protections for families of people who abandon (i.e. redefine) their marriages. It removes protection for people who stand to inherit property or receive death benefits, or wish to exclude someone from receiving those things.

  • Jessica

    Reading both this article and the comments generated by it has been fascinating. I find myself in the same position as Joe, one of the earliest commenters. I am in the third group of people, those to whom this article was addressed and one of the many who want the government out of my private affairs and returned to its constitutional bounds.

    I am a Bible-believing Christian who believes that true marriage can only exist between one man and one woman, as established in Genesis 2. However, I do not look to my government to uphold that standard. Such a covenant – made solemnly before God – does not need the stamp of approval of any body of men.

    Moreover, Steve’s arguments, as pointed out by others, seem to hinge on the fact that removing the state from marriage today would mean a complete overhaul of many of the legal codes in this nation. I would submit that this is no reason not to work toward such a goal, if indeed the state has no place in marriage, which he himself admits that he doesn’t “disagree with in an ideal world.”

    Furthermore, marriage licensing as we know it did not come into existence until after the War Between the States, and then only as a mechanism by which to prevent interracial marriage. This was now an “issue,” since all blacks were now free men and the laws prohibiting slaves from marrying free men no longer applied. Why do we as Christians hold so vehemently to, and put such great stock in, a practice with such a dark and stormy past?

    Instead of worrying about how the state is going to “define” marriage, we as believers would do well to put down our stones and simply love others with Christ’s love – a love that did not condemn, but stooped in the sand and wrote.

    • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

      My question is… “Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’”

      That seems to be the main message of Steve’s article, though I am not one of the groups it was addressed to. Getting government out of the “marriage” business does sound like a good plan… but a good, long term plan that requires much, much planning. Just taking that stance right now without planning, without addressing the full extent of the situation (that is, the laws already on the books that would be affected) is ignoring the true cost.

      Please don’t mistake this for being about money, despite the context of the cited passage (Luke 14:28-30, with some of verse 28 left out). The passage itself is about the cost of being a disciple, and for one who is a believer that goes with governance. While it is dangerous to extrapolate, it would seem a wise principle in general. The next example given is one of kings and war, and considering troop size and strength.

      So if you want to fight for getting the government out of marriage… go for it! Just do it right, and avoid underestimating all that needs to be done, namely getting rid of all those laws currently influenced my government recognizing marriage.

    • AlphaDad

      I’m very impressed with what you wrote. And I say that as someone on the other side of the issue who feels that gay marriage is OK (although I agree that getting government out of the marriage business is probably wise). Not only is your message thoughtful and logical, there is a lovely grace in the way you communicate. I especially appreciate your final paragraph. I think we all would do much better to put our stones down.

      • Jessica

        Thank you for your kind words, AlphaDad (and please pardon the lateness of my reply). Communicating my thoughts in a gentle manner is something I have really been working on of late, and your words were just the encouragement I needed!

  • Repent Now

    I don’t want public displays of homosexuality — on t.v., on the beach, in restaurants, on the streets, in catalogs. I don’t want homosexuality taught in schools — whole marriage farce is just a way to homosexualize the culture. I don’t want members of the same sex asking my child out on a date. I don’t want my son subjected to the sexual advances of pederast priests or “leaders” or “teachers” under the guise of counseling, teaching, etc. I don’t want homosexuals adopting or buying children. Getting the state out of ‘marriage’ would stop none of that — just another semantic cop out for Christians.

    Romans 1:1 teaches that homosexual infestation of the culture is a direct result of women going bad. Our society has let women murder babies for 40 years and encouraged promiscuity, fornication and pornography to get men to go along w/it. Just watching degeneration of movies and tv over the past 40 years tells the story. I was on the sears website today looking at skirts and at least two of the selections could only be called whore wear — and yet they are being sold to everyone by Sears “the family” store.

    • Tiger

      Your whole thought process is frightening. You will trample the rights of others just because a book written by bronze age misogynists told you so. You sir are a homophobic repressed man. You probably have homosexual urges that most likely excite and arouse you. Give in and feel the LOVE!

      • Kami_sama_no_Otaku

        I severely struggle with my weight. I checked a few weeks ago and I was tipping the scale at 480 lbs. As I am not like 9 feet tall, I should not weigh anywhere near that much. I have struggled with this my whole life; in hindsight, those times where I made the effort to watch what I eat and get adequate exercise, where I was close to weighing how much I should… I still thought I was fat, and gave up too soon.

        Applying the “logic” of these groups, I have a “right” to be fat, because it is a pursuit of happiness issue. The government not only needs to secure my right to eat as I want, but will also be responsible for covering my health needs, helping me enjoy a certain “standard” of living, and overall to engage in this “lifestyle” and squash silly outdated beliefs that a person should fit society’s ideals of beauty… or health.

        Someone who loves me doesn’t turn a blind eye to my poor exercise or eating habits, but encourages me to pursue what will help me to live a healthy lifestyle, a shot at actually knowing long term joy and not fleeting
        “happiness”. They provide at least some measure of accountability. Honestly, it isn’t easy for my family; for one thing I’ve got digestive problems on top of it all, so I can’t “eat healthy” in the normal sense. They do not encourage me to just do what I want “in the moment” or try to manipulate the government to interfere with the rights of others to facilitate my own lifestyle.

        So if love is “telling me know” and encouraging me to live as healthy a life as I can so I can pursue long term, substantial happiness, what is caving in and indulging me?

        It is hate. It is hastening me to a sad, sad death.

        That is what it is to indulge in “homosexual” activism, and to make matters worse, this is a group with no respect for actual law or legal procedure. They want what they want, and they want it now. They will sell everyone (themselves included) into slavery to the government just to try and force the rest of us to not only tolerate but endorse and encourage their lifestyle, which looking at it scientifically is a deathstyle.

  • AlphaDad