The Government’s Interest in Marriage
The State of Minnesota, or any state for that matter, doesn’t care if a married couple has sex, doesn’t have sex, or has sex with partners outside of the spousal relationship. When Anna Nicole Smith married octogenarian billionaire J. Howard Marshall, the State of Texas did not care if they ever had intercourse. They were two mentally competent adults who, though 62 years apart in age, were allowed to marry with no questions asked.
As a society, we have decided that the government should stay out of the bedroom. Scarlet letters are no longer stitched to the blouses of adulteresses, and virtually all laws against adultery have been repealed or long-since ignored. Whether a couple consummates their marriage is of no interest to the state — if it were, there would be follow-ups to the issuance of a marriage license — just like you’ve got to pass an eye exam to get your driver’s license renewed every few years, married couple would have to check in with the state and show off their children, or otherwise prove that they were having intercourse.
But until that day comes, the state is compelled to grant a marriage license to any (opposite gendered) couple who applies, no questions asked. We seem to believe that monogamy is best, with or without the presence of children, and as such, we both license it and incentivize it with myriad tax breaks and laws. We want people to be monogamous.
It’s for this reason that I argue for Christians of all stripes to support legal same sex marriage. This has nothing to do with sex, and nothing to do with sacramental marriage (see the next post for thoughts about that). Legal marriage is about two adults entering into a legally-binding contract and thereby being rewarded with as many as 515 benefits in the law. Even conservative Christians, who oppose gay sexual intimacy, should favor same sex marriage.
Look at it this way: conservative Christians surely didn’t want me to get divorced; they may even think that, as Jesus said, my remarriage constitutes adultery. But, all things considered, I’d guess that they’d rather have me remarried and monogamous, for my own sake and for my kids’ sake, than to be non-monogamous. In short, divorce is a reality, so remarriage is the lesser of two evils.
I’m asking conservative Christians to look at same sex marriage the same way: gays and lesbians are partnering, and they are increasingly raising children. Regardless of whether you think gay sex is God’s ideal, it is happening. So let’s incentivize monogamy among gay and bisexual persons the same way that we do among straight persons.
See all the posts in this series here.