Eliminating Marriage Licenses   Leave a comment

Image result for image of marriageA few years ago, I became convinced that we ought to do away with marriage licenses entirely and replace them (actually go back to using) with civil contracts. At the time, I contemplated that it would be decades before any government entity would get on board.

Surprise! Alabama’s Senate considered the question in May 2016, resulting in the 22-3 passage of Senate Bill 377, which would abolish marriage licenses in favor of a plain contract filed with the Probate office.


There’s a long convoluted history to this. Marriage licenses came about in the early part of the 20th century as a means to stop interracial marriage and reduce procreation among “undesirables”. This was all powered by eugenics, a very American idea back then. They later became entrenched as a standard of proof for government benefits claims.

Traditionally, marriage has been a religious and social construct. If the couple had assets to worry about, a legal contract was drawn up as a private matter between the parties involved – often including not only the couple, but their parents, legal representative, clergy and witnesses. Marriage was seen as an individual choice like any other good or services and the government wasn’t involved.


We’ve been in a full-out battle for some time now over the definition of marriage, trying to find a legal standard that applied to everyone. There is no way I am every agreeing with Ellen Degeneres on that topic. To me, marriage is between a man and God and a woman and God and then between the man and woman and God and because God never ends His convenants, it would be for a lifetime. We could stop living together, but we could not become unmarried. I’m pretty sure Ellen would leave God out of it entirely and it would be between her and a successive string of women, something the Bible clearly shows to be part of the sexual immorality Christians are to flee.

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That Ellen shacks up with other women is really none of my concern … until she invites me to her wedding. I would decline because I’m told to flee sexual immorality and approving of her sexual immorality is the same as participating in it myself. Of course, these days I really don’t have a choice to decline if I work in a profession that is wedding related. If the current trend continues, I suspect I won’t have the option to decline even as a friend. Which is why it is important to me to get government out of marriage. I prefer not to have to choose between violating God’s clear commands and being charged with a hate crime. I don’t hate anyone, but a part of my religious observance is obeying God’s commands and He clearly tells me to flee sexual immorality … yours as well as my own … and not just homosexuality. That just happens to be the sexual immorality under discussion at the moment. Regardless, it is impossible to say you don’t approve of homosexuality if you are attending the wedding, even as an unwilling service provider, Nothing says “it doesn’t matter” so much as attending the nuptials.

So, going back to Alabama – this step would go a long way toward ending the division and confusion over marriage both in Alabama, and hopefully … eventually, the rest of the country. As long as we need a permission slip from the government to get married, the voters will imagine themselves as having a stake in those decisions which rightfully involve only the parties to the exchange. Alabama’s conservative politicians and judges anticipate being forced by courts to accept same-sex marriage and they rightfully want nothing to do with the moral conundrum that represents. By getting rid of licenses entirely, they remove their own moral culpability  for approving something utterly offensive to God.

The search for a single legal definition of marriage for everyone threatens real damage to the institution of marriage and to anyone who happens to disagree with that single government-mandated definition. Using contracts rather than license leaves the terms and conditions up to the couple and gets government out of the definition process.

Eliminating the marriage license and replacing it with a contract would take us a long way toward ending the culture wars by giving us one less thing to fight about.





Posted December 11, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in cultural divide, Uncategorized

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