3/17/09

A second look: legal status of "marriage"

A few months ago I wrote this blog post exploring a new suggestion from some quarters that we, in America, should divorce (no pun intended) the language of "marriage" from our law code altogether and create some sort of generic civil union contract that would apply to any persons (regardless of their gender) who would like to enter into such an agreement. "Marriage" as a concept would be left totally to faith communities to define.

Since I have not explored this issue deeply, I did not commit myself to a position in my above-mentioned post, but I linked to an argument in favor of the proposed change.

Since this blog is dedicating to helping people (principly me) think through issues of faith and community/society, I am now linking to a post arguing against removing marriage from our legal codes. Marriage, says this article at Anglican Mainstream, is not intresically religious, it is natural - it precedes both church and state as a foundation of all human society and "disestablishing" it would be a step away from the Common Good.

He argues that this has also been the position of the Church Catholic.

Of course, the current position of The United Methodist Church is: "We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman" (Book of Discipline, 2008 - para. 161.B, page 102) but also "We see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting the rightful claims where [self-described homosexual] people have shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, mutual powers of attorney, and other such claims typically attendant to contractual relationships that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection before the law" (Discipline - para. 162.J, page 111-112). This latter quote could, it seems to me, be read to include some kind of civil partnerships or unions, among other types of legal or business relationships, though I doubt that was the original intent that lay behind this section when it was written. In any case, the first (and more clear) statement makes it evident that the UMC's "official guidance" on the matter would support the continued legal status of "marriage" as such.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Stephen said...

As a history buff, it would be interesting to see how the church and state looked at marriage over the years...

1. For instance lest we forget the Anglican/Church of England has its own roots in debates over marriage and Kings. Which I am pretty sure is kinda glossed over now.

2. In these kind of instances is the state co-opting to the church to use the church to form a stable society? Is the state meddling in the church ever a good thing and vice versa?

3. The article you linked to is a very modern voiced article. It sees society as static not changing. I wonder if the idea of marriage as a stabilization factor in the state has lost its value especially with the rise of new generations of co-habitation/communal living/unmarried happy singles?


Anyway, lets do lunch sometime!

12:07 PM, March 19, 2009  

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