June 28, 2015

Legal vs. Spiritual Marriage

The Supreme Court's June 26, 2015 decision on gay marriage highlights the inherent disconnect between "marriage" and the "marriage contract". "Marriage" traditionally means spiritual joining, in accordance with religious doctrine. In contrast, a "marriage contract" is a set of legal obligations and privileges that a legally married couple assumes.

Even Supreme Court justices hopelessly conflate these concepts. Justice Kennedy's supposedly legal narrative spoke of "highest ideals of love". That might have been fitting for the Sr. Pastor of a state church, were such a church constitutionally permissible.

It is time for government to abandon the "marriage" business. A term such as "civil contract" could be much better defined and distinct from religious doctrine. The court acknowledged that the institution of marriage "has been with us for millennia." It is not a creation of U.S. law. It is instead a creation of numerous religious entities. Those entities enjoy explicit constitutional protections.

By imposing its own secular redefinition of marriage, the court tramples those protections. If government seeks to confer contractual rights and privileges, it should not call them "marriage".

Churches, for their part, should recognize marriages only in accord with their denominational doctrine, i.e., an "Episcopalian marriage".