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Baptist Press: Why is the government involved in marriage anyway?

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If you’ve paid any attention to the public discussion on the nature of marriage in the past few years, you’ve no doubt heard the call from some for the government to get out of the marriage business altogether and just leave it to religious folks. This has caused many to ask two key questions:

  1. Is marriage primarily a Christian institution?
  2. Does the state have any real interest in marriage?

These are questions that all Christians should know how to answer and why. They address the very nature of what marriage is and does. Is marriage primarily a Christian institution?

In a word, no.

Marriage is vitally important to Christians, given that our Bibles begin with a wedding in Genesis and end with a very different type of wedding in Revelation. And the primary narrative of God’s redemptive history through the Old Testament and into the New is Him seeking His faithless bride with full abandon. But marriage is a common-grace that God gives to all peoples. It transcends religion, law, culture, socio-political boundaries.

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    No religion has exclusive rights to marriage. Even to marry in a religious setting, the state has to give a license to the couple. For those that don’t want or need a religious union, the state is available, so Baptists, the government must stay involved in marriage.

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