When my parents married it was a minor scandal. The Church frowned on it. There were promises extracted before they were allowed a ceremony at all.
You Rhode Islanders probably know what Iâ€™m talking about. She was Catholic, he was Episcopal. It took some persuading to get a priest to do the wedding, but the marriage was for real. My parents celebrated their fiftieth a couple of years ago. Itâ€™s clear that Someone blessed their union.
My sister once said that she thought the State should get out of the marriage business entirely and just do civil unions for everyone. It sounded radical to me, but as time goes by it makes more and more sense. Hereâ€™s a story from a God-fearing nation that hews to Biblical principles…
One day last fall, a young Israeli woman named Sharon went with her fiancÃ© to the Tel Aviv Rabbinate to register to marry. They are not religious, but there is no civil marriage in Israel. The rabbinate, a government bureaucracy, has a monopoly on tying the knot between Jews. The last thing Sharon expected to be told that morning was that she would have to prove â€” before a rabbinic court, no less â€” that she was Jewish…
The rabbinic courts are an arm of the Israeli justice system. Formally, the judges â€” rabbis with special training â€” are appointed on professional grounds. In practice, positions in the courts and in the state rabbinate are parceled out as patronage by religious political parties. The main function of the rabbinic courts is divorce, also a purely religious process in Israel.
Reading this makes me thank my higher power that I live in a secular democracy. If we really were a Christian nation weâ€™d be arguing in the Supreme Court whether the Catholic or Protestant Bible is the real word of God. And whether we should ban meat on Fridays.
If we allow homosexual couples the same right to legal marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy, (or endure, depending on how the relationship is going), there will still be religions that forbid gay marriage. Same-sex couples will not be able to have weddings in those churches. They’ll have to call up the Unitarians or the United Church of Christ. Tough, but fair. And I have to resign myself to the fact that people will embark on marriages that I could have told them would never last. What can I say? It’s a free country.