Concerns About Getting a Marriage License in a Same-Sex Marriage State

Would it be wrong for my bride-to-be and me to submit our relationship to the regulations of a government that has seen fit to legalize same-sex unions? Would we be endorsing sin by applying for a marriage license in a state that has moved in this direction? We believe in biblical marriage, and we plan to tie the knot at church in a God-honoring ceremony in the presence of family and friends. At the same time, we're thinking seriously about not getting a marriage license. How do you feel about this?

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In the past we’ve responded to questions about the validity of state-authorized marriage licenses by pointing out that there is a distinctly communal aspect to genuine biblical marriage. This is implied in a husband and wife’s decision to “leave” their parents and “cleave” to one another (Genesis 2:24). In “leaving” and “cleaving,” a man and a woman initiate a new family unit. The family unit, in turn, is part of the larger community. This means that marriage is anything but a purely private affair. It involves a couple’s public commitment to build a strong and lasting relationship. That relationship isn’t just a foundation for the nurturing of their own children. It’s also a building block of social stability. It’s a contribution to the well-being of society. This explains why the secular state has always had a strong vested interest in marriage. And Romans 13:1-7 indicates that government authority exists by to God’s design.

Does your state’s decision to legitimize same-sex marriage change any of this? We don’t think so. Everything we just said remains true in spite of the new legislation. The existence of so-called “gay marriage” doesn’t prevent a Christian couple from presenting a strong witness to the world by making their commitment to one another a matter of public record. It’s never wrong to do the right thing, no matter what the rest of the world thinks. The words of the apostle Peter seem relevant at this point: “This is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (I Peter 2:15).

We realize, of course, that you may wish to forgo a marriage license as a way of protesting the new law. If after earnest prayer you sincerely believe that the Lord is calling you to do this, it’s not our place to try to change your minds. To a certain extent this is a matter of conscience. But on the whole, we tend to feel that believers should continue to marry in accordance with the regulations and requirements of the state unless such time as it becomes absolutely impossible to do so.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss these ideas at greater length, don’t hesitate to call our pastoral counselors.

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God and Government: An Insider’s View on the Boundaries Between Faith & Politics

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