3101.08 Who may solemnize marriages.
An ordained or licensed minister of any religious society or congregation within this state who is licensed to solemnize marriages … may join together as husband and wife any persons who are not prohibited by law from being joined in marriage.
No person, except those legally authorized, shall attempt to solemnize a marriage, and no marriage shall be solemnized without the issuance of a license.
~ Ohio Revised Code (emphasis added)
An open letter to my fellow Christians:
Is marriage a union between husband and wife, sanctified by God? Or is marriage a legal contract between parties as defined by the state, witnessed by the state, and justified by the state?
It appears from the references above that the latter holds true. A marriage is not a religious ceremony — to be sure, you can always include a religious ceremony, if you so choose. Instead, a marriage is a civil act presided over by an official of the state or a person licensed to act as an official of the state. This is an important clarification to note since it is becoming obvious that the Christian Church — by its own actions — has supplanted God with government.
As a Church, we have allowed government to define that which is a blessing from God. And we accept the state’s definition without question. To the Church, a couple is considered married if and only if they possess a valid, state-issued license stating the same. And a couple is divorced if and only if the state has granted the divorce. By agreeing to this state of affairs, the church has put the state before God.
Now, my good friends, we have done this to ourselves. Our religious forefathers used the power of government to exalt the Church. You see, we — the Church — didn’t want just anyone performing marriages. No, we wanted only a select few to sanctify the union of husband and wife. We sought legislation that would create a privileged class; a class — licensed clergy, civil judges, etc. — defined and controlled by the state. It worked for a while, but we now reap that which we sow.
In our exuberance to right the world, we forgot that government is not the Church, not under any circumstances. Yet, in the name of salvation, we unleashed government as the entity that is now working to unravel two of society’s most important institutions — family and church.
Even while this plays out before our eyes — as if from a revelation spoken by a modern-day prophet, we continue to fight for a stronger state in hopes that our Baal will return us to God’s favor.
So we fight for marriage amendments, as if God cares an iota about a government license. God’s word is true, it’s final. However, as long as the Church looks to government for its justification, the Church will remain a bondservant to the state.
This process — the change from the Church worshipping God to worshipping the state — has been a long time coming. It was some 150 years ago when the Church began to partner with the modern state. The partnership was to the liking of all involved: the Church still had some control over the beast (the Leviathan), and the beast provided the manna — or fiat money — and force that made all things possible. But the state also used the Church to justify its existence and ever-growing influence. A few manifestations soon became apparent, manifestations that should have caused the Church to end the relationship, yet the relationship only grew stronger.
However, looking back, the changes are easy to see. Soon after the church/state partnership began, the following took place:
- Government slowly grew more influential and the balance of power tipped in its favor.
- To many Christians, government became the agent of change. No longer were prayers needed as manna fell with the blessings of the saints in the state capitals and the District of Columbia
- With the focus on the state, God was dropped from the equation. The state became the savior; the second coming. And the Church became ever more irrelevant.
At each stage, the Church never looked askance of the state. It never called the state into question. No, and in fact, the Church continued — and continues — to seek the state for matters that are the duty of the Church.
Currently, we see the growth of the social justice movement; a thinly veiled effort to move the Church ever closer to the state. Certainly, as Christians, we are supposed to help those less fortunate. But we were never granted the power to thieve tax dollars for any reason.
The New Testament brought about a new covenant: a covenant between God and believer. This covenant does not provide a mandate to force others to perform acts of kindness. Each of us must work out his or her own salvation in fear and trembling — our fear and our trembling before God. We are not to be the bullies with the gun spreading physical fear and reducing other to trembling before the state.
To keep its power, the state holds the Church on a short leash: the threat of tax status. Even though Jesus was clear regarding rendering unto Caesar, the Church is more concerned about its tax-exempt status than doing the work of God. So for a few pieces of silver, or worthless paper, the state runs the show.
As long as the Church seeks government authority over issues such as marriage, as long as the Church partners with the state for social justice, the state wins.
We must ask ourselves: How can the Church even consider debating biblical truths with an earthly power — whether good or evil? And, why does the Church continue to recognize the claims of the state? The answer is simple: The state has become our Baal; our road to destruction.
The Church needs to forget the state — ignore it. Churches must define and recognize marriages as the Bible instructs. Forget the licensing of clergy; it is an abomination — the state defining church leadership. And, the Church must no longer partner with the state on any endeavor — the Church must never be yoked with the beast.
Liberty is our blessing. Nothing good has ever come from the marriage of Church and State.