Marriage: The separation of the Sacred and the Profane

May 11th, 2004

You’ve all seen crying and hand-wringing by those who believe that Same Sex Marriages [] somehow violate the sanctity of marriage. (See: Bush vows to defend ‘sanctity of marriage’ [].)

My position is simple. By mixing the secular or profane recognition of legal and financial contracts, known as marriages, with the theological or sacred unions of a man and a woman, also known as marriages, the churches have opened themselves up to this problem.

The major theme behind the drive for same sex marriage contracts is access to the same financial rights and benefits that are given to those who get “married”. Hospital visitation rights, health insurance, the right to raise children and inheritance rights. These are all secular issues. They have nothing to do with the teachings of mainstream religions. [One exception noted below.]

The pastors and priests of this country have allowed the state to license them to perform marriages. In doing so, they have mingled the sacred and the profane. Other countries require two wedding ceremonies. One, by a civil servant, establishes the civil and financial contracts that make up a civil union. The other, by a minister or priest, establishes the spiritual union as taught by that specific church. By co-mingling the sacred and the profane aspects of the marriage union, the religious leaders have lost their ability to control the definition of a “marriage”.

The solution is simple. Each church needs to clearly define what constitutes a marriage based on their theology and perform the appropriate ceremonies needed to recognize that union. However, they must also understand that they cannot and must not control the secular contracts that state recognizes as a marriage union. If they were smart, they would join the bandwagon to recognize same sex and other civil contracts as just that, civil contracts and unions, and work to separate them from the concept of a sacred marriage union.

Sacred []: 2. Worthy of religious veneration: the sacred teachings of the Buddha.

Profane []: 2. Nonreligious in subject matter, form, or use; secular: sacred and profane music.

The one exception I mentioned is the underlying teachings by some faiths that homosexuality is a sin. (See: HOMOSEXUALITY—SIN, OR A CULTURAL BAD HABIT? [] for one example.) This, however, has nothing to do with the US Government or a State recognizing a financial contract between two people who are living together. Finally, given the US concept of the separation of church and state, the government cannot base its legal decisions on the teachings of any one church, no matter how mainstream that church is.

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