Earlier I blogged that I would do a series on identity and the church. Yesterday I set the cat among the pigeons about my stance as a Christian and gay marriage. Many Christians reading it would be horrified because of my seemingly pro gay stance in saying that marriage is a societal rule more so then it is a faith-based / churches role.
I wish to state that I am neither pro gay nor am I against gay’s. I am pro people. All are made in the image of God. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (This includes you and me) Jesus was a friend of sinners, and so I will be too.
I want to explain my position more clearly in saying that marriage is more of a social rule rather than it is a faith / church based rule. It’s important to note that there is a deep understanding within the Church how faith impacts upon the union between believers and that this understanding and practice was and is often different to what happened within marriage on a societal level.
How the modern church views marriage and its role in wedding couples is a new idea within Christendom. There is no Biblical nor historical basis for the Church to be involved or officiate within a wedding ceremony. Nor is there a need for an actual wedding ceremony to take place for a couple to be considered married, apart from them joining together in sexual union and living together as one.
Today it is often assumed within Christian circles that a couple who haven’t had a wedding ceremony are living in sin. Any children from this relationship are considered to be born out of wedlock and in years gone by labeled as bastard children. Many of these couples are looked upon with suspicion, mistrust or even kept at arms length from the church for not living a Godly life… when in fact, history and Biblical history shows they just may be living a Godly life and it the Church who is guilty of falsely labeling them.(just because a couple are married makes them godly… its how they live their lives together that causes this)
As Christians we take the basis for our belief’s and practices from the Bible. There is no direction when Moses establishes the priesthood about the priests being involved in marrying couples. The practice was that the marriage was arranged by the bride and grooms parents, or the man took a wife when he had sex with her and started to live with her.
This practice continued up until the day of Jesus, and this practice continued until 1550 Ad when the Roman Catholic Church ratified that it wouldn’t recognise a marriage unless it had been presided over by a priest and two witnesses. Martin Luther the forefather of the reformation argued that the church had no right to be involved in the wedding process, rather that it was a state or private issue for it of its self was a worldly thing.
So within Christian circles marriage was widely accepted as a private issue between two people who decided to live with each other without the involvement of the church… In England this continued till 1753 when the marriage act was drawn up and it become law that a Church of England priest had to officiate at the wedding for it to be legal.
Therefore it seems that the role of the church and marriage is in instructing believers how to act within the marriage boundaries and not making rules and regulations for society in which the church lived. Many societies allowed for multiple wives. Some societies had rules for men not marrying until they were over the age of 30. Some societies tolerated homosexual relationships. Other societies didn’t.
This then is why I believe that the church shouldn’t be standing in the way of anyone getting married within a societal level, no matter their gender or standing. The role of the Church is to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that through Him relationship with God is offered freely to all.
all references from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage