I have long debated with myself as to whether or not I was going to throw in my thoughts with the rest of the masses regarding the vote for Amendment One of the North Carolina State Constitution, and that debate has hinged chiefly in my own indecision rather than upon any fear of backlash from whomever. For the issue as it regards Christians and the Church is far from black and white, and the very fact that this is a state issue through and through further muddies the issue.
For though it is more than evident that the institution of marriage is far older than any secular government and was instituted by no one other than God himself, the fact remains that as a society today, marriage is chiefly a secular institution. While others have said that marriage is an institution created by God and recognized by the state, it is not that simple. For if that were true, no one could bypass the church and be married in a courthouse by a magistrate, and there would be no secular ramifications for being married, except for perhaps the changing of one’s legal name. Yet, these things do exist and so demonstrate that the once religious institution of marriage has evolved into something that can elude religion entirely.
Therefore, when we go to the ballot box to cast our lot with others regarding “marriage” in the state of North Carolina, we are doing so in the efforts of preserving or changing a state-based institution not a religious one. And as such, the outcome has little to no consequences for the Church, for the state has no power over her. Christ alone is her Lord, and no vote consisting of the righteous and the wicked will ever sway his decree.
As for the state itself, I have long put aside the vision of the Separatists who longed to establish Christ’s government in the New World, and have accepted the Christ-given role for the Church to be light in the darkness of the world (including wicked governments and their citizens). As for that role, no piece of legislation can ever remove it, nor will any piece of legislation ever promote it. It is our duty to be that city on the hill, and only we ourselves can deter or uphold that role. In fact, the light that we are called to be shines all the more brighter when the world around us makes itself darker, and we should see these times as opportunities to shine, not through moral legislation and law-based, prescriptive righteousness, but through love, peace, and acceptance knowing that God alone can change the heart of the homosexual, et al, not Christian political activism.
That said, what should the Christian’s role be in the Amendment One vote? Some would say that you are not doing your Christian duty by not voting for it. I beg to differ with that assertion, for whether you vote or not, nowhere is it prescribed by Christ to take active duty in the governance of a country. Yes, we should cry out against gross injustices (e.g. abortion), but chiming in on the definitions of terms of a secular institution is hardly a gross injustice. It may be sinful to grant the benefits / costs of state-sanctioned marriage to the union between same-sex couples, but God will judge those matters not the Church. For whether or not the amendment passes, homosexuality and homosexual practices will continue to exist, and, if the current trend persists, will continue to grow. Our duty should chiefly be as it has ever been, to love each other as Christ loved the Church, and to do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (cf. Gal. 6:10).
Perhaps if we were to do our duty as the Church, these things would not be an issue. Perhaps if we were the light we were called to be, Christ would draw more to himself. Yet we as the Church have become more legislators of morality than we have practicers of it. We have, as many outside the Church, looked to government and the law as our salvation, rather than to the righteousness and the power of Christ. As Paul so clearly put it, the law has no power to save, and its adherence alone only leads to condemnation. And while we might prevail to “circumcise” the homosexuals of this land, we have only given ourselves reason to boast in their “flesh” (cf. Gal. 6:13). If, perhaps, we were to hone the energy that we put into secular law-making and divert it toward the sanctity of marriage within the Church itself, our divorce rates would not mirror those of the world.