faculty_blog_header_fall

This is the third of three blogs on the difficult but important subject of gay marriage.  The first two blogs appeared on the two previous days.

In my first blog on gay marriage, I tried to outline a few of the items which I believe are NONvariables for evangelical Christian discussions of the issue.

In my second blog, I sought to identify a few of the areas in which I think there ARE variables which could affect how we respond to the overall issue.

I ended my second blog with this question:

3.  In what ways have civil governments already sought to regulate marriage (between consenting adults)?

And I started my answer to this question by mentioning the many different ways this regulation already occurs.  But there is one area of current civil regulation of marriage among consenting adults in the United States which seems especially relevant to the issue of gay marriage.  I thus pick up the outline from yesterday:

b.  Unity within the diversity.  There is at least one area in which all fifty states agree with respect to prohibiting marriage among consenting adults – the area of bigamy/polygamy.  And in most states, bigamy/polygamy is a felony.   Of course, this raises a fascinating question since one of our likely Presidential candidates has recently voiced support for gay marriage while the other comes from a religious tradition which, for many years, supported polygamy.  How do you suppose each candidate would respond to that which is linked to his opponent in “the marriage wars”?  Along these lines, The Sunday Times (London, England) quotes one of those candidates as having said in 2005, “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman . . . and a woman . . . and a woman”  (April 15, 2012; Section 4, p. 2).

In fairness, how can the supporters of one (gay marriage) not support the other (polygamy where the participants are consenting adults)?  Increasing the confusion are the laws of places like the United Kingdom and Australia which do not permit polygamous marriages in those countries but which do recognize such marriages if they have been performed in countries where they are allowed.  And all kinds of folks are now raising these questions, including some famous (or infamous) polygamists –  http://www.eonline.com/news/marc_malkin/sister_wives_stars_support_gay_marriage/315316

 c.  Of course, the case could be made that gay marriage should be allowed but that polygamy should not.  I am not sure HOW that case would be made and I have not yet seen anyone try to make it, but I suppose it could be done.  In fact, what got me thinking along these lines was a recent PBS special on the subject of “Mormons in America.”  Much was made in that documentary of the process by which the U.S. came to determine that marriage between consenting MULTIPLE adults was not to be permitted by the civil government.  And no one seems, at that time (which was between 1852 and 1890), to have thought that such regulation would violate the civil right of potential polygamists.  What exactly has changed?  And why do those who protest about the perceived violation of the civil rights of gay couples who want to marry not protest equally vigorously about the violation of the rights of consenting adults who wish to take multiple partners in marriage?

 And so, finally, what is my conclusion after considering both NONvariables and variables?  Two things:

 1.  We should make adaptations in the linkages between marriage and civil benefits which I listed yesterday.  There seems to me to be no good reason to insist that these kinds of linkages be maintained.  

2.  We should maintain the present level of civil regulations of marriage (though it would surely help to try to get more unity among our various civil jurisdictions).  On what basis do I believe this?  That is an eminently fair question and one which everyone who seeks to prohibit legal recognition of gay marriage must be prepared to answer.  My position is that civil sanction of gay marriage amounts to an official approval of what I believe (under my NONvariables) is sin.  For similar reasons, I support very careful and thorough civil restriction of abortion (though that is yet another hugely difficult subject).  Of course, not all that the government permits is sinful.  But in light of the fact that the government does restrict marriage already and in light of the fact that it does use that power to restrict something like polygamy, its failure to prohibit gay marriage would, in my judgment, constitute a kind of official approval of gay marriage. 

But, as always, I know that I need (and I really am seeking) further guidance on the matter.

So give it to me -  (further guidance, that is!).


Sam Logan is Special Counsel to the President and Professor of Church History at Biblical.  He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and he is President Emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.  In addition to his work at Biblical, he serves as International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship ( http://www.wrfnet.org).  He is married to Susan and they have two sons and two grandsons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/samuel-logan  

 

Comments 

 
0 #1 Dave 2012-06-26 12:09
So happy to have finally found the conclusion!
Much of what I have heard about this topic previously has been based upon the tax benefits of marriage. To me, that is not sufficient reason to legalize gay marriage. Then there is the argument of let people marry whom they love regardless of gender. I still go back to the question, what is the purpose of marriage? If we can agree that childbearing is not the purpose but a result of marriage, then it seems that there is no reason to deny gay marriage since that is the only part of marriage a gay couple cannot naturally do as a heterosexual couple can. The question truly boils down to one's view of homosexuality - is it part of God's design? If one says "yes" then why would gay marriage be wrong? If one says "no" opposition is evident. This topic is important to me personally. While I say homosexuality is part of God's design, still not comfortable with gay marriage which makes some conversations with friends uneasy.
Quote
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Blog Mission

The purpose of this blog will be to expand the influence of our faculty, maintain contact with our graduates, and invite other friends to think with us about important biblical and theological ideas.

Biblical's Faculty

Biblical’s Faculty:

We are committed to ongoing engagement with culture and the world for the sake of our witness to the Gospel, and to continual learning from Christians in other cultural settings.

Latest Blog Entries

Written on 25 November 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 19 November 2014 - by Steve Taylor
Written on 17 November 2014 - by Stephen Taylor
Written on 14 November 2014 - by Charles Zimmerman
Written on 07 November 2014 - by Susan Disston and Jennifer Zuck
Written on 03 November 2014 - by Drew Hart
Written on 22 October 2014 - by Dr. Dave Dunbar
Written on 20 October 2014 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 17 October 2014 - by Bryan Maier
Written on 13 October 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum

Previous Blog Entries

Follow Biblical

Follow us on the following sites and receive notifications on upcoming events and blog entries:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on Twitterg+_64_black

Contact Admissions

800.235.4021 x146

215.368.5000 x146

215.368.4913 (fax)

 

admissions@biblical.edu

Stay Connected with Biblical

Follow us on the following sites:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on TwitterFollow Biblical on YouTubeg+_64_black
Or simply call us at...
800.235.4021 x146 or 215.368.5000 x146

Support Biblical by Giving

800.235.4021 x162

215.368.5000 x162

215.368.7002 (fax)

 

development@biblical.edu

Home