Christian denominations and marriage equality: A simple quiz

This doesn’t need to be complicated. Here’s a simple quiz to help sort things out.

Some Christian denominations regard marriage as a sacrament — a tangible “outward sign of inward grace.” For others it is an “ordinance” — a rite performed in obedience to the commands Christ gave to his followers. Those are the two views shared by nearly all Christian denominations.

All any Christian needs to do, then, is to consider whether they view marriage as a “sacrament” or as an “ordinance.” That distinction will determine, in turn, any given Christian’s logical view on marriage equality.

1. Does your denomination regard marriage as a sacrament?

If “yes,” see Answer A below.

If “no,” then your denomination regards marriage as an ordinance. See Answer B below.

2. Does your denomination regard marriage as an ordinance?

If “yes,” see Answer B below.

If “no,” then your denomination regards marriage as a sacrament. See Answer A below.

Answer A:

Congratulations! You support marriage equality!

Sectarian arguments against same-sex marriage all boil down to arguments that only sectarian marriages should be legal. These are not good arguments.

Your particular denomination may or may not regard same-sex relationships as a sin, but this is irrelevant. Because your denomination regards marriage as a sacrament, it already accepts the distinction between civil marriage and sacramental marriage. You and your church have already accepted a framework in which members of other denominations, adherents of other religions, the non-religious, and former members of your own denomination are legally free to marry as they like.

This framework — your framework — holds that marriage is a holy sacrament for members of your denomination, but recognizes that marriage is not, cannot be, and should not be restricted only to those of your own denomination who share your sacramental view. If you are Catholic, for example, you already believe it would be wrong — ethically, morally and legally — to deny Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, Muslims, Mormons and Baptists the legal right to marry simply because they do not share your view of marriage as a sacrament. You recognize that the Catholic church has the right to deny the Catholic sacrament of marriage to whomever it wishes to deny it (the divorced, the ordained, Jews, atheists, Baptists, etc.), but that this sectarian sacrament must not be equated with the legal and civil right to marriage.

So, since this is your framework — since this is already how you understand marriage — there is no reason for you to oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples. You have already accepted that those who are not members of your church have a legal right to marry as they see fit. You have already accepted that their ethical claim to this right is legitimate. You have already conceded that it would be immoral for your denomination to claim a sectarian monopoly on marriage.

This is what you already believe. This is what your denomination has been teaching and practicing for your whole lifetime. This is your rule. You support marriage equality.

Answer B:

Congratulations! You support marriage equality!

Your particular congregation may or may not regard same-sex relationships as a sin, but this is irrelevant. You’re a Baptist or a member of some Baptist-y congregation, so you already know it would be wrong — evil, a sin — to try to impose your religious views on someone else.

That’s why you don’t baptize infants who are too young to decide for themselves. And it’s why you demand the strict separation of church and state — the civil expression of the very same doctrine from which you Baptists take your name.

You and your church have already accepted a framework in which members of other denominations, adherents of other religions, the non-religious, and former members of your own denomination are legally free to marry as they like. This framework – your framework — holds that marriage is an ordinance for members of your congregation, but recognizes that marriage is not, cannot be, and should not be restricted only to those of your own denomination who share your particular view.

Since this is your framework — since this is already how you understand marriage — there is no reason for you to oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples. You have already accepted that those who are not members of your church have a legal right to marry as they see fit. You have already accepted that their ethical claim to this right is legitimate. You have already conceded that it would be immoral for your denomination to claim a sectarian monopoly on marriage.

This is what you already believe. This is what your denomination has been teaching and practicing for your whole lifetime. This is your rule. You support marriage equality.

  • Nick Gotts

    What “This” are you referring to?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The problem you’ll run into with that is that the government safeguards many of the legal benefits and protections to being married. Without the government’s involvement, it’s harder to prove that someone has a greater stake in, say, inheritance, than the spouse’s family.

  • william

    you are making a liar..romans 1;21-32 in the bible tells what god thinks of gays and lesbians.i trust him.not you that have the devil agenda in your souls.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, Romans 1 says what the author of Romans thinks of –actually we don’t know, but the concept of a loving relationship between equal-status members of the same gender was not a thing when the Romans author was writing, so the Romans author cannot possibly have been talking about us.

  • dpolicar

    You don’t know what God thinks.

  • Cole J. Banning

    That’s pretty accurate–and nicely clear and succinct. Love it!

  • Makabit

    Some do. I know a number of young evangelicals who have said to me, without much theological jargon, that non-Christians get married all the time, and if people aren’t Christians (by which they mean their brand of Christian), they should get to make their own decision about whether same-sex marriages are OK.

  • Makabit

    I now want a team of clerical superheroes. The Anglican will have INCENSE SMOKEBOMB as one of his powers.

  • FearlessSon

    You know, this reminds me of one possible ending for Deus Ex: Invisible War which always stuck with me.

    A mental amalgamation of the previous protagonist and a vastly powerful artificial intelligence is trying to find out an effective way to eliminate tyranny. The solution that it had in mind was to put everyone on Earth into a Level Six type of morality, such that they no longer had to depend on a fixed set of rules, laws, and structures which would allow ambitious people to dominate others, and no one would even want to anymore. In his own words, “If you start with minds that are lucid, knowledgeable and emotionally sound, the needs of government change dramatically.”

    He further goes on to say, “I want human affairs to be governed by wisdom. [...] Wisdom must first be human. You must start with what a human sees and feels. But wisdom must also be knowledgeable, logical, and fair to billions of other beings.”

    This does present something of a moral dilemma though. On the one hand, this is a kind of Utopian vision that is being proposed, a world without cruelty, tyranny, or injustice. On the other hand, the requirements of it mean that no one is given a choice to participate or not, and the governing intelligence of this “post-human civilization” will be constantly reading the minds of everyone in it to achieve a Level Seven type morality for arbitration purposes. If it knows everyone perfectly and at a glance, and can be trusted to be absolutely fair and knowledgeable, then incomplete applications of law or justice would be impossible. But will people submit themselves to an almost literal “god from a machine”?

  • FearlessSon

    I see that you have not read the comments to this thread, William.

    The first comment here (when sorted both by date and by up vote rating) is one I made addressing this very type of argument. If nothing else, I thank you for lending supporting evidence to my prediction.

  • steve finnell

    THE NEW COVENANT

    The New Covenant is God’s promise to make the Holy Spirit and salvation available to all men by His grace. The New Covenant was made possible by the shedding of the blood of Jesus on the cross.

    Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    The promise, that is the New Covenant, is by faith in Jesus Christ.

    Ephesians 2:12-13 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    The New Covenant is only available because of the shed blood of Jesus.

    Hebrews 9:16-17 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.

    Jesus had to die before the New Covenant was in effect.

    Hebrews 8:7-13 For if the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second……13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

    The Old Covenant became obsolete when Jesus died on the cross and the apostle Peter preached the New Covenant. The apostle Peter preached the terms for pardon, under the New Covenant, on the Day of Pentecost.

    Peter preached to them Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36)

    Peter preached the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.(Acts 2:22-35)

    When they heard Peter’s message, they asked what they should do. (Acts 2:237)

    Peter told them what to do. (Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)

    The promise of the New Covenant was received by the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:39-41)

    The New Covenant terms for pardon are:
    A. FAITH: (John 3:16)
    B. CONFESSION: (Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37)
    C. REPENTANCE: (Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19)
    D. WATER IMMERSION (BAPTISM): (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Galatians 3 :27, John 3:5, Ephesians 5:26, Romans 6:4, Acts 22:16, Colossians 2:12-13, Titus 3:5)

    THE NEW COVENANT IS THE ONLY MEANS OF SALVATION TODAY!

    1. You cannot be saved according to the Law of Moses. It is obsolete. (Galatians 5:4)
    2. You cannot be saved like the thief on the cross. Jesus will not be placed on the cross again. (Luke 22:42-43)
    3. You cannot have your sins forgiven like the paralytic on the bed. (Luke 5:18-22)
    4. You cannot have your sins forgiven like the woman who cleaned the feet of Jesus. (Luke 7:44-50

    THESE WERE ALL SAVED BEFORE THE NEW COVENANT WAS IN EFFECT.

    ALL MEN TODAY ARE SAVED BY OBEYING THE TERMS OF PARDON ACCORDING TO THE NEW COVENANT.

    THE COMMUNION CUP AND THE NEW COVENANT

    1 Corinthians 11:25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

    What Jesus was not saying. Jesus was not saying the cup of communion was the entry way for individual church members or the church at large into the New Covenant. Christians are under the New Covenant because they have been obedient to the terms of pardon that were made available when Jesus shed His blood on the cross.

    The cup symbolizes, represents, the New Covenant which was brought about, made available, by the shed blood of Jesus. The cup its self is not the covenant. Jesus was speaking figuratively.

    Those who have had their sins washed away by obeying the gospel plan of salvation; are under the New Covenant. They do not have wait until they partake of the communion cup in order to be under the New Covenant.

    Partaking of communion “The Lord’s Supper” was not one of the requirements that the apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost; in order to receive forgiveness of sins, to be saved, to be under the New Covenant.

    THE COMMUNION CUP IS NOT part of a sacrificial mass, is not a re-presentation of the crucifixion.

    JESUS DIED ONLY ONE TIME. (1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit;)

    THE COMMUNION CUP IS NOT THE NEW COVENANT NOR IS IT A SACRIFICIAL MASS.

    You are invited to follow my Christian blog At: steve-finnell.blogspot.com or google search steve finnell a christian view.


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