Sherry A. Phillips

Suspense Author

One Christian’s Perspective on Same Sex Unions

The discussion of gay or same-sex marriage is at the forefront of our national debate these days. My husband and I are not on the same page in our ideas on this. As I have stated before, he is somewhere to the right of Vlad the Impaler and I am more libertarian in my political leanings.

We are Orthodox Christians and there was an interesting oped on the Huffington Post by a fellow Orthodox Christian which summed up how I feel. You can read the entire article here.

From HuffPo:

An increasing number of Christians found it difficult to tell the difference between the things that belong to Caesar and the things that belong to God.

Yet, despite their confusion, those earlier Christians generally knew there was a difference between God and the state, even if they could not always tell where it was. Our sin is worse. Today’s Christian conservatives seem to be worshiping America, or at least a certain idea of it, when they ask the government to protect the “sanctity” of marriage. In doing this, they have vested the state with the power to sanctify.

“Sanctity” is a holiness word. It is what happens when the Holy Spirit (the Spiritus Sanctus in Latin) transforms an ordinary thing into a means of salvation. The Spirit turns bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. She makes ordinary water into the instrument of our second birth. I am Eastern Orthodox, so in my church marriage is another kind of sacrament (like baptism and eucharist). The Holy Spirit turns the husband and wife into an image of Christ and the church.

I mention my church because we take the idea of marital sanctity to the extreme, at least in our official theology. Marriage, for us, is not a contract or a covenant but a miracle! We have no vows in our ceremonies, only prayers, because only God can make a marriage. We allow but discourage remarriage because, as the Spirit transforms bread and wine, she has transformed the couple into one flesh. Because marriage is sacred, we must be married by a priest in a church, not by a judge in a courthouse or an Elvis impersonator somewhere on the Vegas Strip.

Strictly speaking, our theology does not recognize the legitimacy of such marriages. They are not sanctified by the Spirit in the church. On the other hand, it is not as if the average Orthodox Christian thinks people married in secular ceremonies are not “really” married. For practical purposes we tacitly recognize these civil marriages even if they don’t quite meet our theological standards.

This debate is going on in the Supreme Court right now and one of my husband’s biggest concerns with the case before it is that an activist judge in California has overturned the will of the people. The people of the state of California voted to affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, a California judge ruled the vote unconstitutional. So now, the Supreme Court has been asked to decide if the vote is unconstitutional. You can read my husband’s blog on the case here.

I have stated in the past that if two people want to have their union recognized by the government as a legitimate union, I have no problem with that. The only concern I have is that a couple will go to a Christian church such as a Catholic or Orthodox parish and demand the priest marry them because it is their Constitutional right. I think I am safe saying, no Orthodox priest will ever perform the sacrament of marriage for a same-sex couple. If they do, they will more than likely be excommunicated.

At that point, if the couple sues, we have a conflict between the state and the Church.

And in that case, I will always, always, always, side with the Church.

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