and September, 2019

CERTIFICATES OF MARRIAGE

My wife and I attended a couple of big weddings over the summer months.  At one of them, during the reception, the bride, groom, and pastor were called to a table to sign the "marriage certificate."  I simply assumed that the MC had misspoken in calling it the "marriage certificate;" but I found out later that they had signed a "marriage certificate" issued by the church; and that there was no government issued "marriage license."  I had never thought of that possibility before, and my first thought was that this was very, very wrong.  I have since found out that numbers of Bible-believing, Christ-honoring churches have begun this practice, although still honoring government issued marriage licenses if requested to by the marrying couple.  What is this all about?

Several years back the United States Supreme Court jumped over the "wall of separation between church and state," and changed the definition of marriage to include more than just a man and a woman.  In so doing, they invaded, and overruled a religious doctrine held by Jews and Christians for centuries.  Now, don't get your dander up!  Let me explain.  And let me also add that it is the fault of the Christian church for making it possible for the Supreme Court to do so.

Back in Bible times, where were birth, marriage, and death records kept?  Well, for the Jews, they were kept in the Temple in Jerusalem.  All through what history calls "the Dark Ages," where were those records kept?  They were kept by the churches.  When Europeans came to the New World (North America), where were birth, marriage, and death records kept?  They were issued by, and kept by the church.  Let me prove it. 

Over the summer months I have begun searching the ancestry of my family and my wife's family.  From the 1800's, back to the 1600's, when the pioneers first came to settle the New World, there are no government held records.  All of the ancestral history is found in church records.  When we get back to our forefathers in Europe, as far back as the 1300's, we are searching through church records to find the ancestral line.  There are not, and never have been, any government records in those time periods.

How then, did the government come into conrol of birth, marriage, and death records?  I don't know.  It happened gradually during the late 1800's, and likely was as the result of the new federal government requiring a census every decade.  The fact is that the Christian church, and Judaism, relinquished their obligations under Scriptural directives, and turned over to the government something which is purely religious in nature.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not suggesting that the government does not have the right to legally join together persons who do not qualify for biblical marriage.  My objection is in labeling that union as "marriage."  Government should never have been selling "marriage" licenses.  Government can never be involved in a covenant relationship between a husband and wife, and their God.  Government licenses should be called by whatever name they like; but should not contain the word "marriage."  According to the Bible, marriage is not a contract; it is a covenant - a blood covenant between the marrying couple and their Creator.
 
Bible-believing, born-again couples who marry, signing a marriage license, are recognized as having made a contract with the government.  But more importantly, they have made a covenant with God.  Such couples who marry using a marriage certificate are making a covenant with God.  That covenant may not be recognized by the government; but it is recognized by God, with Whom the covenant was made.

This is not the only thing churches have given up to the government.  Did you know that pastors are considered "self-employed" by the Internal Revenue Service?  They are considered "self-employed" because churches, under the Constitution, cannot be made agents of the government.  Therefore, they cannot be forced to withhold employment taxes, and Social Security taxes from their pastors' paychecks.  To do so would make the church an agent of the government - withholding money from a paycheck, then forwarding it, with the proper documentation to the Internal Revenue Service.  Unfortunately, many churches, for the convenience of their pastor's, began withholding such taxes, and forwarding the payments to the government; thus forfeiting their constitutional right not to be intertwined with, nor indebted to the government.  Now, because of this, the IRS has forced many churches to be their agents; claiming that this freedom from being obligated to the government does not include other employees of a church, such as custodians, school teachers, office staff, etc.

Because of the close relationship between the church and government in the formative days of this nation, the church has placed itself in jeopardy in the face of the increasing hostility of a post-Christian generation.

ONE MORE THING, PLEASE:

Back in 1999, a Kansas pastor, the Rev. Joe Wright, was asked to offer the opening prayer for the new session of the Kansas State Senate.  This is what he prayed:
  
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance.  We know Your Word says, 'Woe on those who call evil good;' but that's exactly what we have done.  We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.  We confess that:
* We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word, and  called it pluralism.
* We have worshiped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
* We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
* We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
* We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
* We have killed our unborn children and called it choice.
* We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
* We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
* We have abused power and called it political savvy.
* We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
* We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
* We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts: cleanse us from every sin and set us free.  Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will.  I ask it in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Yeshua the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Amen."

The above prayer was prayed by a pastor to open the 1999 session of the Kansas State Senate.  It is a very biblical prayer, even quoting a number of different passages of Scripture.  However, anyone praying such a prayer today would be labeled as a bigot.  What has changed?  Certainly God and the Bible have not changed!
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