I realize it is time for me to take a position on one of the most pressing issues of the day. It is a stand that I thought I would never have taken, but the path I have taken to get to this position may be a bit different than most.
The most pressing problem isn’t actually same sex marriage itself, it is the link our society has between religious marriage and civil marriage. For example, in Alabama, only Christian ministers can sign marriage licenses. No other religious or atheist leader can legally sign a marriage license, only Christians. It is past time to break this link between religious and civil marriage. The signature line for officiant should be deleted, and any witness should be able to sign. In fact, I believe it is time that religious leaders refuse to sign the civil marriage license. That is a civil duty and not a religious duty. Our religious leaders should not be brought into the civil role for marriage.
Once that link is broken, this provides great freedom. For example, if the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t want to endorse same sex marriage, then they have that freedom. Similarly, if the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t want to endorse civil divorce, they have the freedom to ignore civil divorces (as they do already). With these links broken, civil authorities will never be able to pressure religious traditions to change their values concerning marriage and divorce.
A side effect of breaking this link would be to benefit certain couples in troubling financial relationships. For example, let’s say a widow receives a retirement benefit from her dead spouse that she would loose in a civil marriage. This results in senior citizens living together without marriage for purely financial reasons. Now, it would be possible for this couple to participate in a religious ceremony, but not necessarily obtain a civil license.
With the link between religious and civil marriage broken, same sex marriage then becomes only a civil issue and not a religious one. The purpose of civil marriage is to protect children, to protect shared financial rights and benefits, and to provide certain healthcare decisions during emergencies. Our society would be well served to provide these benefits to same sex couples. To protect the civil rights and freedoms of same sex couples, it is time to support full civil marriage between any two adults.
For my own views on Christian marriage, I believe marriage is about two people supporting each other as they are transformed into the image of Christ during the day-to-day events and struggles of life. I would support any two Christians in making that commitment.