District of Columbia (District) Councilman David Catania has drafted a bill to legalize same sex marriage within the District. If passed, the District would be the first state south of the Mason District Line to approve same sex marriages. Councilman Catania expects to introduce the legislation within a few weeks and passage within the year. (In May the District council voted to recognize same sex marriages of couples married in other states, effective July 7, 2009. That law gave same-sex couples, joined in other states the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities that are given to married heterosexual couples under District law. Everything from inheritance rights, joint tax filings, insurance coverage, and employee health-benefits to joint bank accounts, hospital visitation and store family discounts are expected to be affected.) As drafted the law would state that marriage is the legal recognized union of two people and that any person who meets the eligibility requirements may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender. Councilman Catania’s bill is titled "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009" and it specifies that no religious organizations or their officials can be required to perform a same sex marriage or provide wedding related services to same sex couples. Starting in 2011, the bill would eliminate domestic partnerships and provide for converting domestic partnerships to District sanctioned marriages at no cost. Those who want to maintain their registered domestic partnerships may continue to do so. He has covered his bases well, steering clear of any religious implications.
Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church of Beltsville, Maryland, organized the Stand 4 Marriage D.C. Coalition (Coalition), a group of mostly black ministers to protest the council's actions and have already asked the Board of Elections and Ethics to authorize a ballot initiative defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. The Coalition believes that the majority of District residents will maintain that traditional marriage is between a man and a woman. Despite Councilman Catania's crafty language, the Coalition is bent on making this a religious issue.
The question is what does it mean if marriage is defined by the District as strictly between a man and a woman?
Same sex unions cannot be defined away. Whether same sex unions are recognized by the District or other jurisdictions, Bishop Jackson’s Coalition will have little impact on those who seek same sex relationships. If the goal of the Coalition is to declare, encourage, or require compliance with the Word of God, the mark has been missed. God is not a weakling who requires the tools of this world to secure compliance by His people. He simply sets out the consequences and allows us to act as we will. And in this case, for this argument, we need only look at the positive consequences:
God tells us 2nd Chronicles 7:14"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Here He is speaking to His people, not to the masses who may or may not reside among them. But God does not exclude those "non Christians" among us from the benefits that accrue to the land. To put it plainly, even the heathen benefit from the health of the land, and the health of the land is brought about by the action of God’s people. It seems clear that the chore before us is not to attempt to legislate away undesired conduct, but rather to encourage those who have publicly stated allegiance to God to demonstrate such in all that we do and say and are.
God has spoken to His people, not all people. His Word speaks to Believers individually and to congregations as they are comprised of such individual Believers.He has not called us to a crusade to convince the world that salvation is needed. He has called us to save the world by our actions coupled with our witness of a better way to live.
Some may say, "But someone must take a stand against the evil in our midst!" ->And this is what God has called His people to do by our lives, " . . . humble themselves, . . . and return from their wicked ways..."
"But what about our children who could be led astray?" -> Our witness must be greater than that presented by Satan. And it will be as His people seek His face and " . . . turn from their wicked ways, . . ." He will hear from heaven and forgive and heal. Certainly He can do a better job than we in cleansing our land from the sin we lay before Him.
"But shouldn’t we at least recognize that marriage can only be defined as a relationship between a man and a woman as described in Scripture?" -> If we are indeed His soldiers we must please Him and leave the affairs1 of this life to others. Changing the name of something does not cause it to cease to exist.
"But the mess we are in is so great! It has been building for so long and affects so many and so much! Surely, we must go outside of the church to get it under control." ->God’s Word is consistent throughout. He would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of 10 righteous souls2. Surely we are more than the 10!
It should be clear now that we cannot impact religious conduct by use of secular devices. The gun and the ballot continue to pale next to prayer, and conquering the world is so much easier when we start with ourselves.
12 Timothy 2:4 (KJV) No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
2Genesis 18:32 (KJV) And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.