Good response to this about government and marriage?

If you ask someone if they think government should be in marriage, and if not, then how should they handle inheritance, children, and money?

Then their response is:

“They respond to that argument by calling it a “civil contract” and thus returning the argument back to a semantic one. Marriage is a contract, plain and simple. Verbal as well as written. Government enforces contracts between individuals.”

what’s a good response?

I would argue that they are then letting the government remain involved in marriage, and the only difference is that they have changed the word “marriage” to the phrase “civil contract,” without involving any substantial difference between the two. We should not be concerned so much about the word the State uses to support immoral activity, but the fact that it is supporting immoral activity at all.

A giood response is, “yes.”

I elaborate on this response in your other thread, which basically asks the same question.

Marriage is marriage, and States sensibly layer on a number of legal provisions that are (in the main) sensible and useful in that context.

There may be other contexts in which the same or similar provisions have merit.

Bishop Charles Chaput has proposed that The Church stop being an agent of the State. The Church functions as an agent of the State whenever they fill in the details of the marriage license. It is better, and makes a strong statement, if the Church stops administering these state contracts now rather than inevitably being forced to later.
Here’s what Bishop Chaput said:
“A friend recently suggested that the Church should get out of the civil marriage business altogether,” Bishop Chaput said. “In a way, it makes sense. It’s hard to see how a priest or bishop could, in good conscience, sign a marriage certificate that merely identifies spouse A and spouse B. … Refusing to conduct civil marriages now, as a matter of principled resistance, has vastly more witness value than being kicked out of the marriage business later by the government, which is a likely bet.”
Here’s the link:

If the Church no longer serves in the capacity of an agent of the State then it simply administers The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and the other Sacraments of The Church which has nothing to do with The State,

While I would not object to that approach, it ought not be necessary, and in some ways sends a bad signal.

It is simply efficient for the priest to collect the State documents to register the marriage. I see no prospect of the Church being forced to marry all comers (civil ceremony).

Second, the reality of the sameness of marriage, no matter the venue in which it is conducted, may be undermined if the Church service and civil process are forcibly separated. It may add to the illusion that a civil marriage is just some legal paperwork that ought to be available equally to anyone.

Then you haven’t been paying attention, there is, in fact, already litigation in the courts accusing Christian Churches of refusal to perform same sex “marriages”.

Which will fail.

The courts have upheld freedom of religion as sacrosanct. Even in today’s sexualized culture.

No, one has already been upheld. You need to open your eyes. Religious freedom in under attack all over North America and Europe. In Canada, they have ordered Catholic Schools to stop teaching that protected sexual preferences are sinful. A church in Connecticut has been ordered to have the same-sex ‘marriage’ in their chapel. They have said they will not comply. The next step will be jail time.

Can you provide links to verify these claims?

Are you kidding? Watch the news or do a Google search!

I see…:hmmm:

Marriage is more than a civil contract and most everyone can appreciate that point if it is properly articulated. Marriage between a man and woman is an institution(covenant in Christian terms) that serves an important function of public interest. Marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children that result from that union. Every child has a right to know and be raised by their mother and father. Traditional marriage is the only institution that supports that right. Read more on all of this at:

God bless.

I see . . . you are unable to work the Google machine. :hmmm:Let me help you. Since the query returned hundreds of instances, I’ll confine the selection to only those in the last month so as not to completely overflow the post.

After you’ve read them, I’ll be interested in your point-by-point reply.

If you don’t even bother read them (as in not even bothering to Google to find them), all the readers here will know that this denial of the clear facts is simply an attempt to pull a John Gruber, denying the plain facts and obfuscating the issues in order to dupe and decieive.

If you truly believe in god, you can’t be selective about the doctrines. Christians with homosexual tendencies need to live a chaste life and stop attempting to redefine marriage as it was defined by god.

I’m with Bishop Chaput. While there may have been a time when things were different, I can not think of a good reason why the state should still be in the marriage business or why the Church should not separate itself from the state in this matter.

I am in a position where after annulments, the church will still not recognize my marriage to my wife asnd will not bless it in any way simply because we did not pull a state license. Unfortuanately, through no fault of her own, my wife’s former spouse created a financial nightmare with lots of debt while they were still married. A state license would make my own income and assets vulnerble to seizure. I am running a household and raising 4 children and that is not an option. In spite of coming to the Church with a pure heart, my desire to have my mariage conducted by or recognized by the Church has been deemed impossible. I think I have made several compelling arguements that have been shot down without discussion.

I have been told that the state has interest in keepig track of the marriages in the state. This is not true and they have relinquished any interest by their tollerance of “simulated marriages”. If I was of a mind to do so, I could grab the first girl that would have me and fornicate all over town. The state would say nothing. We coud move in together and the state would say nothing. We could buy ha house together and the state would say nothing. We could have a dozen kids and the state would say nothing. It might even subsidize us depending on our income. It is only when I come to my priest and say, “Father I have seen the light and want to get back into the graces of the church”, everyone throws up their hands and says, 'wait a minute, you need permission from the government for that." That means that the religious aspect of this entire equasion is the only thing regulated by law. Why is this not blatantly unconstitutioal?

Which brings me to what I am told next, “we as Church are bound to obey the civil authorities.” Well, this is a nice bumper sticker but not really true. It is a statment that requires volumns of nuance and explanation. How would this policy play out in 1942 Germany, 1970 Cambodia or current China or North Korea. Even in the states bishops have threatened to disobey the abortion and contraception mandates of Obama Care.

If marriage is truely a “holy sacrament” how do we justify reliquishing control over it to the secular authorities? If they see fit to issue reconcilliation licenses, will we be checking permits at the confessional? How is it that we have not given to Ceasar that which is God’s?

Once such authority is recognized and the secular authorities come up with something like “same sex marriage”, don’t we own this in some small way?


Thanks for the links.

The above case appears to be a husband and wife business (called “The Hitching Post”) providing marriage ceremonies for the public for a fee. Akin to the classic “baker for a gay wedding” scenario. The law in question is not directed at Churches, but rather “public accommodations”, which is arguably how the “chapel” operates. The application of the city ordinance to the chapel was challenged. The City has subsequently stated it will not be forcing the ministers to perform gay weddings.

*The **City Attorney **concluded:
It is my opinion and the city’s position that, as currently represented, the conduct by Hitching Post Weddings LLC is exempt from the requirements of the ordinance and would not be subject to prosecution under the ordinance if a complaint was received by the city.

How the above will ultimately wind-up may depend on whether the Chapel is held to be a for profit business (which it probably is). If they are the latter, then its reasonable to argue that they should find themselves in the same boat as the baker.

This reports on a law in Denmark. The article acknowledges the law in the US does not compel Churches.

A couple of years old, and about what MIGHT happen.

This is a blogger arguing a pro gay marriage case. It rehashes the Idaho story (minus the conclusion!) and the Denmark story above.


  • Same as the first item on your list above (and also minus the conclusion!). Same source too.

Same as your first item (minus the conclusion).

Is about gay ‘marriage’ generally, poses lots of “what-ifs”, but does not report on any relevant facts that I could find.

After you’ve read them, I’ll be interested in your point-by-point reply.

If you don’t even bother read them (as in not even bothering to Google to find them), all the readers here will know that this denial of the clear facts is simply an attempt to pull a John Gruber, denying the plain facts and obfuscating the issues in order to dupe and decieive.

Thanks for providing these links. The “clear facts” you hoped to present turn out to be something quite different. There was no instance of US law having required a Church (let alone the Catholic Church) to perform a wedding for a gay couple. I note that there is nothing from the Catholic Church either, which I would expect to be quite voluble if such law was in place or anticipated.

Of your 7 references:

  • 3 are about the Idaho case, but none report the fact that the Chapel concerned is exempt and won’t be charged (in the words of the city authority); This case actually supports the **opposite **case to the one you put!

  • 1 is about Denmark.

  • 1 Rehashes the above 2 cases.

  • 2 speculate about the “threat” and discuss history & do not report any incidences of legal compulsion to perform a marriage.

I agree with Archbishop Chaput. Priests effect Sacramental Matrimony, which is independent of the laws of any State or Nation.

Priests signing marriage licenses (which are instruments of civil law) is insane. The only civil documents that should bear a priest’s signature are his tax returns.

Of course, we could implement Archbishop Chaput’s suggestion immediately. Priests simply would stop signing marriage licenses. If people want their Sacramental marriage to be also recognized by the State, they must go to the State for this recognition (such as a judge or a Justice of the Peace).

This is how it has been in Germany, and most of Europe, for more than a century, and it could be this way tomorrow for the Western world.

I would encourage Archbishop Chaput to make this the rule for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia immediately. It is fully within his purview to do so, and it would be a good start. Not only is it the right thing to do on principle (because priests should not act as agents of the State), but it would completely eliminate any legal threat.

EDIT: I have gone to the Archdiocese’s website and suggested this to Archbishop Chaput.

If we have learned anything about government, to include the courts, NOTHING is sacrosanct. There was a time when life was sacrosanct. Now we have legalized abortion and assisted suicide. Marriage was sacrosanct, now we have divorce. If you’re betting on government to uphold religious belief then that’s a bet you will lose. The church should get out of the civil contract aspects of marriage and stick with the covenential. That will probably mean a couple would need to have their covenential church marriage validated as a civil contract by a magistrate or some other duly authorized government official.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit