Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marriage and Religious Freedom

                    The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is that marriage and religious freedom go hand in hand.  Freedom of religion is necessary in order to truly support marriage; keeping the sacrament of marriage is fundamental to maintaining religious freedom.  They must stand together, or both of them shall fall. 

                    Last Friday I wrote an article about why we should defend marriage.  You can find that article here.  I included in that article some videos from the GOP debate in New Hampshire where the candidates defended marriage very well.  I encourage you to watch all of the videos there, but I want to emphasize in this article how Newt Gingrich "called out" the media - mainstream or lame stream which ever you prefer - for their bias when covering religious liberty issues.  That article also included a link to two letters written by a group of religious leaders who are very much concerned about losing religious freedom if same sex marriage becomes the law of the land.

                    Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney both emphasized during the debate that Catholic Charities had to close their adoption agency in Massachusetts because they would not place children with same-sex couples.  Catholic Charities had previously placed about fifty percent of all adoptions in Massachusetts, but now they can no longer help children find loving families. 

The letters from the religious leaders give several other examples of loss of religious freedom because of refusal to recognize same-sex marriages.  1) The State of New Jersey "cancelled the tax-exempt status of a Methodist-run boardwalk pavilion used for religious services because the religious organization would not host a same-sex `wedding' there."  2) "San Francisco dropped its $3.5 million in social service contracts with the Salvation Army because it refused to recognize same-sex `domestic partnerships' in its employee benefits policies."  3) "Portland, Maine, required Catholic Charities to extend spousal employee benefits to same-sex `domestic partners' as a condition of receiving city housing and community development funds."  Please read these letters because they deserve your attention.

One of the consequences of altering the definition of marriage is the interference with the religious freedom of those who continue to believe that "marriage" is the legal and lawful union of one man and one woman.  Anchorage, Alaska, will put an initiative on the municipal ballot for public vote in April that "would extend legal protections against discrimination to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Anchorage.  Current law already prohibits discrimination in employment, loans, rentals, real estate deals and other activities on the basis of race, color, marital status, sex, religion, disabilities and the like.  The initiative would add sexual orientation and transgender identity to the list."  (See Rosemary Shinohara in Anchorage Daily News, Saturday, January 21, 2012, p A-3.)

The Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Arizona, a national conservative Christian legal group, "analyzed the Anchorage initiative several weeks ago at the request of the Alaska Family Council, a conservative Christian organization that opposes the initiative."  The main problem that the Alliance Defense Fund sees with the initiative according to Holly Carmichael, a lawyer with the fund, is that "private business owners could be forced to hire or do business with people whose sexual orientation doesn't match their religious beliefs.
"The ultimate concern with enacting something like that is that it infringes on religious freedoms…. There's a huge constitutional concern here."

Religious organizations apparently receive an exemption in current "city law that says religious institutions and groups can give preferential treatment to people of the same religion if they are, for example, hiring someone who will promote religious principles."  Carmichael considers the exemption to be "too narrow" because it does not "protect other business owners or employees in the same way as it does religious groups."

One of my concerns about the Anchorage initiative is my belief that by outlawing discrimination on sexual orientation, we are one step closer to losing some of the freedoms in our society.  No place - our homes, churches, temples - will be safe.  When we are forced to give our stamp of approval to same-sex relationships, we must understand that we will also be losing blessings from God.  

Our nation was founded on Christian-Judeo principles and values.  Our Founders gave us the Constitution in order that we would be a nation of laws and they founded our laws on biblical laws, mostly the Ten Commandments.  We must understand that our laws are based on commandments from God. 

There is a huge problem in our nation now because of the movement for same-sex marriage.  Several states have given their approval for such marriages while most of the states have not.  We are a nation of laws; therefore, we cannot have people married in one state and not married in another state.  Many states have passed amendments to their state constitutions stating that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.  Now we need to pass an amendment to our national Constitution to protect that status of marriage being a legal and lawful union between one man and one woman.

There is a huge jump from being understanding, concerned and supportive about same-sex couples and letting them call their union "marriage."  Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and marital fidelity brings blessings from God.  In fact, marriage between a man and a woman is a holy sacrament that cannot be extended to any other union.   My personal belief is that homosexuality is a sin and that those who participate in it will reap serious consequences for their actions whether or not they are "married."   I also believe that any sexual activity outside of a legal and lawful marriage between one man and one woman is sin.

Having declared my own personal feelings about immorality, I can also state that I have no problem with same-sex couples receiving legal protection as a couple.  I do, however, have a big problem with using the term "marriage" to describe a same-sex union.

Using the same term of "marriage" to describe a union between a man and a woman as well as a same-sex union desecrates the sacrament of marriage.  A marriage is a three-way partnership between a man, a woman, and God that is instrumental in providing physical bodies for the spirit children of God.  As long as God remains a part of the relationship, the marriage is protected by God; therefore, God holds the marriage partners accountable for the success or failure of that marriage.  This is one reason why Christians desire their marriages to take place in churches and temples:  they want God to be a part of their marriage. 

If the government forces religions to perform same-sex marriages in their churches and temples, I expect that many religions will simply close the doors of their churches and temples rather than desecrate them.  The bottom line in this fight for same-sex marriage, whether or not people recognize it or are willing to admit it, is a desire to destroy religion entirely.  It isn't enough to take God out of the classrooms and graduations or off our billboards and football fields.  Now they want to take God out of our lives completely.  Once homosexuals achieve the legal status of marriage, they will want the same type of wedding ceremonies in the churches and temples.  What better way is there to destroy freedom of religion than to force the churches and temples to close if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages?  You better believe that religious liberty is threatened by the fight for same-sex marriage.  We must promote and protect marriage as being a union between one man and one woman!

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