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Why I Am Voting Yes for the Minnesota Marriage Amendment

This post is my attempt to put forth an understanding, yet Biblically faithful explanation for why I am planning to Vote Yes for the marriage amendment this fall.

I am hesitant to even wade into this conversation because 1) I am not any sort of official spokesperson; 2) I have many friends on both sides of the issue; and 3) I don’t care much for the vitriolic rhetoric that is often used against those who feel the way I do.  

However, I think it is important for both sides of a conversation to be shared and heard.  I don’t think that many people on either side of the marriage amendment debate have taken a whole lot of time setting aside their personal feelings and preferences in order to understand the positions of others.

Before I explain why I am planning to Vote Yes to the MN Marriage Amendment this fall, let me take a moment to explain what I am not doing with my vote.  

(Of course many will disagree with me on the following points, but I will have to let that be.)

  • I am not voting against the worth, dignity or value of any person.
  • I am not voting against the need to find a solution for people in same-sex relationships to experience some of the benefits of people in heterosexual marriages.
  • I am not voting in the hopes of creating some kind of Christian theocracy.
  • I am not voting to minimize, criticize or condemn the feelings people in same-sex relationships have for one another.
  • I am not voting to uphold what some would claim as the ‘traditional’ view of marriage.
  • I am not voting because I believe broken, abusive, destructive marriages are somehow inherently better than even the best same-sex marriage.

That being said, let me share the reasons I am voting for the amendment. Actually, there is only one reason.  

I believe that the God of the Universe decided from eternity ago that marriage would be between one man and one woman.

I take the following statement from Dr. John Piper who I believe defines marriage in a Biblically accurate when he says,

Marriage is created and defined by God in the Scriptures as the sexual and covenantal union of a man and a woman in life-long allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife, with a view to displaying Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood-bought church.  (for the entire sermon click here)

I believe that defining marriage in a way that is faithful to the entire breadth of teaching in the Bible, completely removes the option of same-sex marriage just as thoroughly as it removes the option of polygamous marriage, open marriage or any other so-called marriage relationship that is not constituted by one man and one woman alone.  My stance on the amendment is not one of hate, judgement or bigotry.  It is simply my best faith effort to be faithful to the what the Scriptures declare as God’s intention for his created world.

I understand that those people outside of the Christian faith will not likely be swayed by my opinion.  It is not my intention, nor my responsibility, to try and convert anyone to any kind of thinking.  

Many opponents of the amendment who are sympathetic to Christian faith, and yet plan to Vote No, say they are doing so because God is a God of love.  I don’t disagree, He most definitely is.  But the fact that 'God is love' is not a blanket that can be simply dropped over any idea or action, as justification for what a broken humanity desires to do.  God has certain ideals and mandates for the world he created.  Marriage, between a man and woman, is one of those.

However, I do call on those people who claim to follow Christ to study the above definition closely, and to decide for themselves if this is in fact what the Bible teaches.  And if it is, a very difficult personal decision will need to be made, namely,

1) to set aside personal opinions and culture influence and be faithful to Christ, or

2) to sit in the place above Scripture and determine what God’s declared will is.  

Only when we first love God, demonstrated by our willing obedience and submission to His declared Word, can we then rightly love all the world he has created.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brenton Balvin June 26, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Thanks Gabrielle. I really wanted to be respectful in sharing my opinion and I'm grateful you took it that way. I am guessing you meant "fitting with the time" in your comment. There is a great tendency for human beings to edit the Bible in hopes of making it relevant to their wants and desires. I'm sure I do this, just like anyone else. The Bible itself teaches that human beings desire to be in the place of God and make decisions about right and wrong, instead of obeying God. Thomas Jefferson was said to have read through the Bible with a razor blade, cutting out the parts he didn't like! But the Bible is not a Word doc that people get to edit to make it fit the times. I completely understand your examples, and why they would seem confusing, or why it seems justified to reinterpret the Bible based on our current cultural context. However, when you read the Bible you have to understand the cultural context behind the text, and then you have work to extract and apply the normative principles that are being taught (and confirmed, importantly, by the rest of the Bible). If you do this it is easy to see how the examples you listed (and many of the Old Testament laws) were given by God for a specific reason in that time and place, rather than being specific directives for all times. This is different from the concept of marriage is outlined in Genesis 2, repeated by Jesus in the Gospels, and explained even further by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians.
Brenton Balvin June 26, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Keith, maybe I'm wrong, but from the tone of your writing it seems like you've possibly been burned in the church world. If that's true I am sorry. If not true, my mistake. And for the record, I would never presume you to be outside Christian faith simply for being a Lutheran. I love many Lutherans! Martin Luther himself is a personal hero of the faith. To your point, the difficulty in pointing to a specific example of Biblical marriage is that all the marriages you mentioned in Scripture fall short of the ideal of God. In a way this is deeply reassuring because it means my shortcomings and mistakes are not different than the men and women in the Bible. This does not however, mean that God does not have a standard and a goal. Keith, as a retired pastor, I assume you are familiar with the multitude of examples in Scripture, both literal and metaphorical, of marriage being between a husband and wife. The first marriage, of Adam and Eve, was referenced as a marriage by Christ himself, and later referenced by Paul as being a foreshadowing of the relationship between Christ and the Church, which the Bible on more than once occasion calls the Bride and the Bridegroom. Maybe we disagree about how to apply this teaching? I'm not trying to use the Bible for any political wedge. What I am doing is using my understanding of the Bible to drive my decision making.
Brenton Balvin June 26, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Oh no, don't get Chad started on polygamy... :)
Brenton Balvin June 26, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Chad, I think you're hitting on what makes the water so murky here. It is very difficult when religious and social constructs collide. I think you are right in identifying the core issue which is, in a sense, "protecting" the Christian sacredness of the term marriage. Part of the fear people have, I think, in using the word marriage to define any kind of committed relationship, is that it feels as though another aspect of traditional Christian faith is being wiped away. This makes people uneasy, because it appears to be just another small step away from Christian values, and another step towards pluralistic, humanistic, atheistic values.
Brenton Balvin June 26, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Seebs, I'm confused about how you go from being a straight couple to a potentially gay couple. I tried to read between the lines in your Star Tribune article, but I'm still not sure. I guess, my response to your question in paragraph two would likely be related to a better understanding of your situation and the choices that lead you there. And I think the very personal nature of your specific situation is not suited best for blog comments. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this post. You obviously have a very unique perceptive on these things, and I've been mentally challenged and sharpened by your comments.
Seebs June 26, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Okay, starting with background: If you dissect human brains, and do things like use dyes to make nerve connections more visible under a microscope, there are noticeable differences between male brains and female brains; our sexual dimorphism is not limited to the large scale external anatomy. My spouse's sense-of-self reports him as "male", and what we know from brain studies is that that means there is a >99% chance that his brain would, if studied in a laboratory, show the characteristic structures and traits of a male brain, until you got down to the chromosome level and noticed the XX chromosomes. What this does or doesn't mean is unclear, but the basic conclusion of most modern medicine is that there are two choices: 1. When people tell us what gender they are, we accept them at their word. 2. We drive them to a >50% suicide rate. Those are the only options currently available to us. The sense of self is not negotiable. So for me to keep my promises, I have to consider myself married to a man. Which, me being male, would make it a gay marriage. And here's the thing: It changes *nothing*. It really is the same thing. Marriage remains what it has always been; there is no difference here.
Seebs June 26, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Brenton, if Christianity had been the only thing ever to define marriage, I would be much more sympathetic to this, but the fact is, we are latecomers. The Christian Church did fine for about a thousand years treating marriage as a thing the temporal powers took care of, and we have never disputed that members of other religions, or no religions, are also quite clearly capable of getting married. Furthermore, be aware that there are Christians -- millions of them -- who have prayed and studied and found themselves led to conclude that gay marriage is an affirmation of their core moral values and teachings. The church I went to in the Twin Cities has been recognizing gay marriages for roughly *25 years*. And they have found that it enriches the community and brings the congregation closer together, because marriage does that. And even if it were otherwise: I absolutely assert that the government can, should, and *must* be "pluralistic and humanistic". I believe that it is wrong for people to swear oaths, because Jesus told us not to. But watch closely as I do *not* attempt to introduce a constitutional amendment banning them. See, that's the whole point; we are called to live by our beliefs, not to demand that the government require other people to.
Seebs June 26, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Brenton, I think the distinction here is... When I use the Bible to guide my decision making, that means it tells me how I will live. So... Could you point me at the New Testament passage where we are told to make our moral beliefs into law so that others are required to follow them whether or not they are persuaded of them? Because if there's no such passage, it seems to me that the Bible guiding your decision making should affect how you personally live, and should not be used as a justification for imposing rules on other people.
Chad Welch June 26, 2012 at 10:08 AM
"Oh no, don't get Chad started on polygamy" You are right. But it is because one of these issues Christians just seem to gloss over when they talk about "Biblical Marriage." All the other things Chris listed have passages (some a lot) in the Bible that speak against them. I don't know of a verse that speaks against polygamy. It seems like God even promotes the practice through the law. And if you say those marriages fall short of God's ideal. It seems pretty clear to me that both Paul (1 Cor. 7:8) and Jesus (Mat. 19:12) say the ideal for Christians is to remain single so they can better serve God.
Chad Welch June 30, 2012 at 12:34 PM
"Part of the fear people have, I think, in using the word marriage to define any kind of committed relationship, is that it feels as though another aspect of traditional Christian faith is being wiped away." But the government cannot wipe away Christian faith or tradition. If that were the case then there would be no early church. They did not depend on the government to reflect their faith. The only way the state can wipe away Christian tradition is if it is a theocracy. Which you state at the beginning is not your goal. And it is not like churches have been arguing to protect the term marriage from secular sources. Like I mention above a lot of marriages that happen today would not be approved by particular churches. But they haven't fought against these. Marriage is a secular term. It may also be a religious one to some but that doesn't mean they own the term.
Corey Butler Jr. August 25, 2012 at 03:09 PM
A group of alumni and friends of Carleton College is petitioning the school to publicly oppose the marriage amendment. What do you think the school should do? Does that put administration in a bind? Here's the story: http://patch.com/A-xp7b
Ben Golden August 31, 2012 at 04:20 AM
I think what we have here is a fundamental difference on how we view our purpose as voters in a democracy. If you think of voting like a poll (that you should vote what you, personally, believe) then Brenton's position make sense. He is simply voting his convivtions. But I would like to submit that with a democratic government, one must vote based on how they think the government should treat others. For example, I might believe that everyone should go to church on Sunday. But I would never vote for an amendment requiring that everyone do so. As such, I have trouble understanding the argument that a "no" vote somehow threatens Christianity, or the sacredness of Christian marriage. If a "no" vote REQUIRED homosexual marriages, I would say that point had merit. But as someone who is about to be married, our relationship derive's it's worth from love, hard work and honest communication... not from anyone's "traditional Christian definition." If we choose to include that interpretation of Christianity in our marriage, that's our decision. If others choose not to, they shouldn't be denied marriage by their government for exercising that freedom.
Gabe Holm September 05, 2012 at 03:16 AM
You are mistaken Penny. Brenton is simply stating why he believes a certain way. Is someone trying to create a Christian Theocracy when they vote to make murder illegal because the Bible says it's wrong? Simply having morals that are rooted in a religious tradition and voting in line with those morals is not in any way an attempt to form a theocracy. Why should "state law" be based on another person's particular understanding of marriage? Is another view superior simply because it's not religious?
Seebs September 05, 2012 at 03:20 AM
That's a very, very, non-comparable example. See, the thing is. Murder has a victim; marriage doesn't. When we advocate for laws against murder, the rationale is not "we should prevent people from making the mistake of killing someone", it is "we should prevent people from being killed". With marriage, there's no victims to "protect". If you can't point to the victims, and show how they're harmed, and your arguments for something being bad are that your religion teaches that it's bad, then: Yes. Trying to legislate that is exactly what theocracy is about.
Gabe Holm September 05, 2012 at 03:42 AM
None of the examples that you gave are held up as an ideal in Scripture, and none of them are homosexual in nature. Are you saying that simply because there are examples of sinful people perverting marriage in Scripture that means we can have no biblical standard? That just makes no sense. Simply follow the link to John Piper's sermon above and you will have exactly what Scripture teaches about marriage. You have this issue backwards. It is not the people who believe in traditional marriage trying to impose their view on society. It is the relatively small group of people who are seeking to impose their lifestyle on the rest of society. If I don't want to recognize what I consider immoral behavior, then I should not be forced to. It is the behavior that people have a moral objection to. If is truly about giving people equal rights then civil unions would be a meaningful solution to the problem because they would not have anything to do with a person's sexual behavior but it would still afford the necessary rights that any free individual should have. Yet this option is rejected. That is unreasonable.
Seebs September 05, 2012 at 03:48 AM
David is most certainly held up as an ideal in general; we are told that God blessed him with his many wives, and that it was disgraceful of him to have someone killed to get another -- but that if he had wanted more without stealing them, that would have been fine. The Old Testament rules not only permitted polygamy; there were circumstances under which they absolutely mandated it! John Piper can write whatever he wants; unless he can make dry bones dance, he is not in a position of authority that I recognize. If you want to convince me of something about the Bible and marriage, I'd suggest starting with what Jesus said on the topic. :)
Gabe Holm September 05, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Ben you bring up some good points. I would look at it differently though. I think that people who believe in traditional marriage usually state why they believe what they believe in terms of what the Bible teaches about marriage. That is fair because they are entitled to their own beliefs. What I think is unfair is when one group's beliefs are forced on others. Which is exactly what the pro gay marriage movement does when it tries to force their definition of marriage on those who have a moral objection to it. It's the homosexual behavior that people object to. People are free to live the way they want, but when they try to force the rest of society to recognize their behavior, they overstep what is reasonable. It if is simply a question of allowing a human being to have the same rights as another human being then there are ways to do that, but it's not about that. It's about recognizing a specific behavior. I don't think that it is wrong to constitutionally define marriage as it has always been defined. However some non religious people might object to recognizing my marriage since for me it is very much based on my biblical view of Christ and the church. Frankly I would just as soon see all unions recognized by the State be civil unions and leave marriage to the religious institutions. Either way I'm voting Yes.
Seebs September 05, 2012 at 04:49 AM
There are tons of people whose marriages other people regard as invalid. Divorced and remarried? The Catholic Church says you are not validly married. But do they demand that remarriage be made illegal? No. Do their companies deny health benefits to legal "spouses" who happen to be remarried after a divorce? No. And the thing is... It really is about having the same rights. Marriage, in and of itself, is a fundamental civil right. And what you are doing here is denying other people that right. You are demanding that the law enforce your beliefs. They are asking for permission to act according to theirs, not asking anyone else to agree. People who have been together for thirty years are denied deathbed visitation rights, because they cannot get legally married. And you want this. You may say that you don't, but actions speak louder than words; you will vote to mandate that this state of affairs persist for as long as possible. That's all this law is about: keeping those people from enjoying the same basic rights and privileges you take for granted. If you don't want that, put your money where your mouth is. Show me how you are campaigning to ensure that all couples get the same legal treatment. And if you aren't doing that? Then don't pretend you don't want those people to suffer. You can't act to bring something about, never act to prevent it, and claim you don't "want" it. That's what "wanting" is.
Penny Hillemann September 06, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Gabe - I understand why Brenton believes the way he does, and Brenton, it surely goes without saying that you certainly have that right. However, when you vote on a constitutional amendment, it's not just about what you believe should be the outcome, it's about how you believe the decision should be made in a civil society. I don't think a status over which there are clearly differing opinions even within religious communities should be enshrined in the constitution because the majority is convinced of the rightness of a particular religious belief. A nonreligious rationale is not prima facie superior, but there needs to be a persuasive nonreligious rationale as well, or it darn well is a theocracy of the majority. If the majority believes fervently that women should cover their heads and be silent in public, is that enough for a constitutional amendment requiring it, in a nation with the First Amendment? If you believe that a purely religious rationale is sufficient in the case of marriage, how can you distinguish that from this example other than by bringing in the presence or absence of nonreligious rationales? Shouldn't one fervently held religious belief be just as valid as another, as long as it has enough votes? BTW, I very much appreciated this excellent article by Rev. Emily C. Heath in yesterday's HuffPost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-emily-c-heath/how-to-determine-if-your-religious-liberty-is-being-threatened-in-10-questions_b_1845413.html.
Gabe Holm September 06, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Seebs, I find it strange that you would interpret my direction to John Piper’s sermon as some sort of claim that he has divine authority. I’m simply pointing people to a resource that can explain more clearly and completely than I am able to in this limited space what the Bible, including Christ’s words, teaches about marriage. Gen. 2:23-24; Matt 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:24-32 are a few important passages. As for David, he is certainly held up as a great man of God, but also a deeply flawed one. I realize that there is no out and out denunciation of polygamy. However, in my interpretation, there is every reason to believe that polygamy is a practice that perverts God’s plan for humankind. Deut 17:14-17 says that the king shall not have many wives. I Kings 11 tells how it was Solomon’s many wives who turned his heart away from the LORD. Polygamy was never spoken of positively and every positive reference to marriage in Scripture is in relation to a one man, one woman union. Your reference to Scripture mandating polygamy must be a reference to Deut 25:5-6 which I don’t see as an endorsement of polygamy but rather a way to protect a woman who lost her husband and in that society may have no other choice than to become a servant or befall some worse fate.
Chad Welch September 06, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Gabe, my point was that the claim that marriage has always been one man and one women in the Bible is incorrect. And yes David is punished for taking another man's wife and then murdering him to marry her. The punishment is God killing his child. Now if you want to talk about ideals it seems that Paul (1 Corinthians 7:8) and Jesus (Matthew 19:12) say the ideal for Christians would be to not marry so they can more fully devote their time to God.
Seebs September 06, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Again, if we believe that the Hebrew laws were provided by God, they *require* polygamy. Not permit. REQUIRE. If you are married, and your brother is married, and he dies, you must marry his widow. PERIOD. No excuses. As to Piper's authority... If he has no divine authority, then he's a fallible human, and his views on what the Bible teaches about marriage are no more significant than mine. There is no reason for which I should accept his views as superior to my own. I personally think he's missed the point completely. We come from very, very, different traditions. And here is where I think this becomes a really important issue: What about MY religious freedoms? I believe, quite strongly, that the "mainstream" view of Christian teaching on homosexuality is the perversion of what Jesus taught us. When I was living in the Cities, I went to a church that had been recognizing same-sex marriages for something over twenty years. So what about my religious freedoms? What makes it right for the government to absolutely endorse your version of Christianity as authoritative as to the nature of marriage, and prohibit mine from being recognized? The only solution to this that is consistent with the Constitution is for the government to stay out of the question and let people decide for themselves whom they do or don't think can be married. Changing the constitution to violate that is an insult to our government.
Sandy Fuller September 26, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Has anyone mentioned that in biblical days, men were married to several women? That was socially acceptable and the norm. Men went to other women, too, when their wives didn't conceive. Really? Could you imagine??
Stephanie C. October 03, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I dislike when people use God or religion as their excuse to vote yes. 1. God, I believe would be irate that you people are voting and using him as an excuse to oppress part of our population. 2. Back then when he wrote that, I'm sure there were no homosexuals, or if there were they were completely secret so he had no need or knowledge to address it. Blacks were oppressed, and eventually won, women were oppressed and eventually won, and gays are now being oppressed and they will win eventually. Get over yourselves, you have no right to dictate whether anybody gets married or not, it has nothing to do with you, worry about your own marriage or any relationship you may be in.
Melissa S. October 12, 2012 at 04:22 AM
I believe that in the bible when they write "To thine own self be true" meaning God had made us all beautiful in every way and individually and uniquely. Why would you need to change into something in this world to be accepted, to fit in with the so called "Norm" when God knows your heart and who you really are. I find it unsatisfying, disturbing, and hurtful to hear people arguing about two people loving another of the same sex and want a commitment because that is what a marriage is, a life commitment of bond! Yet people have the right to judge whether or not they can make a life commitment with each other? Who are they to judge, I see priests at these rallies they are calling them abominations and makes me say to myself I AM SO THANKFUL I dont attend their church, they're judging and slandering!!! Im sorry you all know the one who can judge one. That is not you, me, or who ever. I can really say that honestly I think a gay marriage will outlast almost any opposite sex marriages. Look at how bad they want this and take marriage seriously and fight for something theyre passionate about, when so many opposite sex marriages fail even within 3 months. I feel anyone who opposes this, you are judging because you have a personal agenda against them. Two gays can have a LOVING family and would teach them to NOT be prejudice and NON JUDGMENTAL, and instead of looking at how the world can be cruel, they at least will stay true to themselves and fight for love!
Melissa S. October 12, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Amen! =)
Marte October 15, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I am voting YES..and glad to say so... Yes, I do have my faith that is pushing me to vote YES. You have your opinion and I have mine... Isn't freedom of speach a great thing...at least I know my vote will knock out someone else's that is voting no...
Seebs October 15, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Your faith pushes you to demand that other people be denied basic legal rights? Keep in mind, there is nothing, nothing at all, on the table here but legal rights. We are not talking about who can or can't stand at altars, we aren't talking about who gets to show up for Thanksgiving dinner. The only question on the table is whether same-sex couples are entitled to legal rights like hospital visitation rights or notification if one partner is killed in action. What religion is this, that teaches that it is necessary that people die alone for having the wrong kind of sex?
Kev November 01, 2012 at 11:20 PM
How about a different angle here. Civil legal rights. Two people pretend to have a legal relationship so they can get on the others health plan, cheat their employer, or the government so they can collect their partners social security check after that person passes away. and the list goes on. Who would police this and do I want to pay more taxes for all of this. I believe this will certainly open another can of worms and lead us farther down the road of no return in this country of dependency on everyone else but our self.
Seebs November 01, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Pretty impressive red herring. People have been getting legally married for health or legal benefits for as long as we've had health or legal benefits. It's nothing new, and in practice, it's a very small number of cases; it's not common enough to justify effort spent worrying about it. In short, if you don't want to pay more money, the answer is "don't police this". If you want to spend $10 to prevent $1 of alleged fraud, well, that's up to you to make the case for new legislation. Fact is, there is no real legal requirement that people being married be in love, or have romantic feelings, and there's no obvious reason there should be. Marriage was not historically about romance; it was about property ownership and family ties.

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