Thinking About Proposition 2

Marriage will be on the ballot election day in Texas. Proposition 2 reads:

“The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”

If all we’re doing is saying that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that any other pretended acts of marriage, whether polygamous or same-sex or multi-species (or whatever) are not to be considered marriages in the State of Texas, it would seem fairly obvious.

But not much is obvious any more.

The Texas Conference Board of Church and Society has come out against the proposition, seeing it as being in conflict with the civil rights the church believes people are due. I’m not at all surprised the BCS would take such a stand. In my experience they’re usually against the idea that homosexuality is a sin. They have not yet (fortunately) succeeded in changing the United Methodist position, however.

For different reasons I’m uneasy about the Proposition. I have no doubt marriage should be between a man and a woman. I don’t think marriage is a civil right – though civil society has long claimed jurisdiction over marriage. I’m uneasy with the proposition that law should (or can) cover everything. Since our legal culture has decided that the State – the maker, implementer and judge of the law – is to be completely secular, I don’t want to surrender any more power to the State than it already has.

By forcing the legal issues, we’re put in the position of appearing to say EITHER marriage is a legal relationship only between a man and a woman OR marriage is a legal relationship between any two (or more?) individuals who are (currently) lovingly committed to each other. As one who supports a traditional understanding of marriage, I’m not sure what to do in a situation where I seem to be forced to choose between two evils – the complete transfer of marriage to the arena of law or the denial of the traditional concept of marriage.

Any ideas?

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