Why is there such a thing as civil marriage anyways?

I think it’s an intrusion into the lives and practices of the religious for governments to assume the authority to marry people. In many faiths, marriage is a sacred celebration. I almost think it is just plain sacrilegious for secular institutions to assume the capacity to marry citizens.

If governments were not allowed to marry people, gay marriage would not be an issue. But since marriage in government has no religious basis, and thus no ethical or spiritual basis, mark my words, we WILL see gay marriage legalized in all parts of this country by the time I die.

If governments want the power to unite two people for the sake of civil discourse, call it something else, but don’t call it the same thing as my marriage.

I always say the same thing. It is worth noting that you could stretch the argument and say that states granting “marriage status” is a violation of the “separation of church and state” (whether this actually exists in the Constitution is for another argument lol).

Religious organizations don’t distribute/regulate social security and other legal matters. The State does. Also, not everyone follows a religion, and they would like to get married too.

It’s not sacriligious at all, nor is it an intrusion. The State doesn’t recognize religous marriage, and the Church doesn’t recognize civil marriage for Catholics. The two are separate. The State doesn’t have anything to do with religious marriages. They provide civil marriages, which have nothing to do with religous marriage.

Because of this separation, one doesn’t step on the toes of the other. They’re separate and completely different.

A civil marriage is just that-civil. It exists so that people can file taxes together, protect each other in the case of serious illness or death; it makes raising children easier, makes it easier to own property together, etc. If you were to take away civil marriage you would take away all marriage benefits that come from the government. (There is no way that the Constitution would allow for the government to give people benefits for going through a purely religious ritual.)

As for gay marriage, there are many churches that perform gay weddings, so if you cut the state out of it entirely, gay marriage would be even more prevalent because they would just go to the churches that allow it.

And ultimately, marriage is such an old institution that has existed for thousands of years. It has been used to mean many things from the marrying of a child to an adult to polygamy. It exists in almost every culture in every religion. It has enough cultural significance and is so ingrained in everyone’s heritage that it can be a secular institution as well as a religious one.

It seems to me that the reason for civil marriage is to benefit children. Every child has the right to be raised by their parents and civil marriage is a way to promote that they are raised by their parents. This is, of course, the ideal situation that should be sought but not always possible for one reason or another. This does not mean that our government should throw out the meaning of marriage or bud out of marriage altogether. Marriage is beneficial to our (an other) governments in that it helps raise the next generation. It is in the best interest of our nation to promote marriage as it has been promoted for the entire life of this nation. Incidentally all societies on earth have understood marriage to be the union between a man and a woman…not merely for moral reasons but for the survival of the society.

Not everyone is religious/belongs to a church, and they have the right to be married too. The very fact that the Church recognizes as valid a marriage between two atheists which occurred at city hall demonstrates that civil marriage is not sacrilegious.
To go even further, a valid marriage between two baptized Protestants which occurs at city hall is recognized by the Church as a sacrament.
And, gay marriage would still be an issue. There are plenty of denominations/churches, such as the Episcopal church and the United Church of Christ that perform gay wedding ceremonies.

I have never heard of this. So a civil marriage between two atheists is recognized as valid by the Church? A protestant marriage between two protestants is recognized as valid by the Church?

Educate me, please.

Yes, because non-Catholics are not bound by the laws of the Church regarding marriage. The Church recognizes marriages between non-Catholics. As long as there were no impediments (prior marriage, for example) a marriage between two non-Catholics is valid no matter where it occurred. So two atheists who marry at city hall contract a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church. A baptized Protestant who marries an unbaptized atheist at a Protestant church contracts a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church.

Two validly baptized Christians (of any denomination) contract a valid, Sacramental marriage. Because the Church recognizes Protestant baptisms as valid (providing they used the correct form, used water, had proper intent), the Church recognizes two baptized non-Catholics to be Sacramentally married. So two baptized Lutherans who marry in a Lutheran Church are sacramentally married. Two baptized Baptists who marry at city hall are sacramentally married.

If any of the hypothetical couples above were to convert to Catholicism, nothing would need to be done concerning their marriages, because the Church already recognizes them. As I said before, this is assuming there were no prior marriages/divorces, or impediments.

To share my own experience, I was married to my husband, who was baptized in the Baptist church, at our non-denominational evangelical church. At the time of our marriage, I was not baptized. We contracted a valid marriage in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

A year later, I was baptized in the same church. At the moment of my baptism, our marriage became sacramental.

Two years later, I converted to the Catholic Church. No further steps had to be taken regarding my marriage, because it was already sacramental and valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

Marriage is not a right. Nowhere does the constitutions grant people the right to marriage. It is a religious sacrament. Like I said in my previous post, if the state feels entitled to create programs like social security, which I don’t think it even is, then call their unions something else. Do not equate it with marriage.

With the decrease in birth rates, the benefits that States grant married couples is a complete waste of money on their part. They should not be granting any married couples any sort of benefits, with the possible exception of those that actually do in fact raise children.

Why? I’ll tell you why.

If governments want the power to unite two people for the sake of civil discourse, call it something else, but don’t call it the same thing as my marriage.

Because the Catholic Church that we follow tells us to reject this as well. There is an easy out to allow people to get civil rights without being marriage, and it is called civil unions. And somehow, the Church has stubbornly decided that gay people cannot have these either, which is why same-sex marriage is still on the table.

If we eliminate civil marriages, then the problem would be solved. But try telling that too the Church.

Marriage is a Sacrament to Catholics. Marriage is not a Sacrament to non-Catholics. And the Church doesn’t compell non-Catholics to get married Sacramentally. Jews don’t have “Sacramental marriage”. Lutherans don’t have “Sacramental marriage”. Muslims don’t have “Sacramental marriage”. Those who seek “Sacramental marriage” will have to go through the Church for it. Those who want a civil marriage go through the State for it. Catholics are married both in the Church Sacramentally and the State. The priest signs the marriage license for the couple after the Sacramental part is done. But it’s not part of the Sacrament at all. Civil marriage (which is valid for non-Catholics and recognized by the Church) is completely different than Sacramental marriage which is required of Catholics by the Church.

Why wouldn’t it be recognized? Not everyone in the world is Catholic. The Church recognizes marriages that are valid to the two people being married. In other words, Jews married within their Jewish ceremony are recognized as married validly by the Church. Muslims married win their muslim ceremony are recognized as married validly by the Church. Lutherans married within their Lutheran ceremony are recognized as married validly by the Church. Baptists married within their Baptist ceremony are recognized as married validly by the Church. Hindus married within their Hindu ceremony are recognized as married validly by the Church. Atheists married civily, as they have no religion, are recognized as married validly by the Church.

I don’t know where you live but religious marriages are recognized by the state.

Maybe in Mexico and some other countries, people have to go through parallel state and church ceremonies. However, in all states in the United States, religious marriages are recognized.

Not all marriages are religious sacraments. They are valid marriages nonetheless. The Church says so. You say no. I’m gonna go with the Church on this one.

Did you read anything from my previous post?

Civil marriage is basically a vestige of Pre-ww2 eugenics movements; after Hitler, these programs were redefined, or divorced from the eugenics terminology and backing.

Just Google “Eugenics” + Civil Marriage or marriage license. Many pre-1940’s sources indicate this as a secular move on the state’s part in direct conflict with the Church.

I live in the US. In the Catholic Church, Sacramental marriage is completely different and separate from civil marriage. The Church does not recognize civil marriage for Catholic couples. The State does NOT recognize the Sacrament of Marriage. Ask your priest. The priest acts as a JOP by signing the marriage license as a courtesy for the couple, but it is NOT part of the Sacrament. The Church requires that a couple be married first civily (or actually have the marriage certificate in tow so he can sign it). Therefore Catholics who get married are married twice, once civily when the priest signs the marriage certificate AFTER he marries the Sacramentally. The only time the State recognizes a religious marriage is when a marriage license is signed by the pastor/priest in his function of JOP. If the pastor does not also act as JOP and sign the marriage license, and only does the relgious part, the State does not recognize that couple as legally married.

I dont know why there are civil marriages. This wikipedia article on civil marriages explains a bit about the history of marriage. In English law countries it might have something to do with having an official state church. It might have to do with clarifying inheritance and property rights.

But we need to clear up what I think is some misinformation others have posted in this thread. And I should make it clear I am not a lawyer. At least in my state marriage is entirely controlled by the state. There are laws that prohibit the solemnization of a marriage by a ‘minister’ to anyone who does not have a marriage license from the state. As far as I know for a minister to marry anyone they need the states blessing. A minister who does not have a marriage license is committing a crime if he marries two people. Therefore in my state it must be said that marriage is controlled by the state and only secondarily a religious act. The state has far more power than we typically realize and we would do well to take it back.

I was married civilly 20 years ago. Eleven years later, I wanted to be married in the Catholic Church. I had to present my marriage certificate, from my civil marriage before they would proceed with the Convalidation.

This is a good bullet of how the “dual” system works. I would like to piggyback a little. Historically, there were civil and church/equity courts in countries where church and “state” were woven together. This why we hear “attorney at law” in the US. It let’s us know those people are authorized to practice law in courts of the secular government. Historically, church courts handled things we think of now as family law and probate/estates. Civil courts did things like contract disputes. We never had a state religion in the US and carefully set out our national constitution to separate out some of the lingering historical ties to state religious law that we inherited along with our common law system from England. Marriage is a contract that our government recognizes and our church does as well with the signing of the papers. For Catholics, we are additionally making a religious relationship that we call a Sacrament at the same time. It may look like one “marriage” but in fact it is two things happening at once.

In a country that is not run by one religion or intertwined with a religion being imposed by a monarch, then absolutely the contract that is the secular part of any “marriage” can be defined by and changed by the civil, secular government. It is a “render unto Caeser” moment on the secular side of marriages IMO. We don’t have to like it, but if a change does not fit our religious definition of marriage it does not mean the government has overreached or that they are redefining what makes a sacramental marriage. I think a lot of people don’t understand why these things are separate and have an emotional instead of rational reaction to civil change. Personally, I don’t want a government trying to match the civil contract of marriage to any religious rules because they may not be from my religion! Would any of us want to live under sharia law as Catholics?

Marriage serves a vital public interest, namely in attaching legal impetus to those relationships which tend to produce children – the care of children, naturally, being a matter of compelling public interest.

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