Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On Getting Rid of Marriage Licenses

Marriage licenses have been around since before I was born, so growing up, it seemed to me that a marriage license was just one of those things that people had to get, if they wanted to get married. I didn’t give much thought to why it was required. I remember hearing a story about a preacher who had conducted a wedding and sent the happy couple on their way before he realized he’d forgotten to have them sign the license. So, he chased after them, presumably so they wouldn’t be living in sin. But recent events have made me question, what is the purpose of that piece of paper?

When you think about it, a marriage license serves no purpose in getting people married. The purpose of the marriage license is to prevent people from getting married. The state requires people to have a license to get married, so if a man walks into the office with his sister and says, “We want to get married,” the state says, “no, we don’t issue licenses for that.” Now the reason the state doesn’t issue licenses for that is because they don’t want the man and his sister procreating. Doing that increases the chance of birth defects and isn’t good for the population.

I’m sure you see a problem with that. In spite of the state’s good intentions, many people have gotten away from the belief that fornication and adultery are wrong. On Facebook, I said something about premarital sex being wrong and someone quickly responded, “This is the 21st Century.” Marriage licenses don’t prevent immoral behavior anymore. And though we’re disappointed about the Supreme Court redefining marriage, marriage licenses never prevented homosexuality and we can’t expect that the ruling will increase homosexuality.

When I hear about states considering getting out of the marriage license business altogether, I think that is probably a good idea. That doesn’t mean that marriage can’t happen. What about the man who wants to marry two women? You might ask. Well, that would likely be permitted, but the Supreme Court may have opened the door for that anyway. Besides which, if there is a man out there who wants to marry two women, he’s probably sleeping with two women already. Marriage licenses aren’t doing what they are intended to do.

I’m a little surprised that the rogue Supreme Court justices attached gay “marriage” to the 14th Amendment and not the 1st Amendment. I suppose they were afraid to declare marriage to be a doctrine of the Church, but I’ve often wondered whether the state had any Constitutional right to tell churches who they could and could not marry. The only basis I saw for doing so was that it is beneficial to the State to have strong families. But if we throw out that argument, as the Supreme Court has done, the State has no reason to waste money issuing licenses that prevent no one from getting married.

As far as the State is concerned, marriage is a contract. You don’t have to have a license to enter into most contracts. As far as churches are concerned, marriage is more than that. When you stand before a preacher and say your vows, your vows are not only to the person you are marrying, but you are vowing a vow to God. Whatever the world may allow when it comes to marriage, churches still have a responsibility to uphold the standards for marriage that the Lord has set. It doesn’t require a state issued license for churches to do that. So, let’s go ahead and get rid of marriage licenses that serve no purpose, but as churches, let’s be very selective in the marriages that we choose to bless.