Marriage and Politics

This posting is handling some volatile subjects. Its purpose is to discuss the institution of marriage in our culture as it relates to government and politics. Nothing in this posting should be taken as a personal comment or criticism about any individual marriage.

The problem
There is much division, anger and social turmoil due to proposed and demanded changes to the institution of marriage. The major changes in the forefront of the discussion is whether to legalize a marriage between homosexuals, or not.

In a society which entertains the fantasy that there is complete separation between Church and State, the previous sentence regarding legality and marriage should have caused some alarm. The reason that the concept of legality and marriage is commonly accepted, is that marriage is an institution that exists in society where both religion and government coexist; there is no separation.

Frankly, the institution of marriage, as practiced today in the western culture, is an anachronistic European remnant from the past when the Church and State were one and the same. The institution of marriage that we are familiar with is basically a Roman Catholic religious institution. Since the religious institution of marriage has been assimilated into secular society, it is difficult to discern its background and nature as a religious institution. This is the cause of much of the difficulty and turmoil that surrounds the issue of marriage today.

The federal government regulates and taxes commerce. The State and local government dictate and regulate various social relationships and activities between people. This is done with a view towards elimination of criminal activities and the abuse of the citizenry. Today the State finds itself in the awkward position of attempting to regulate and promote the religious institution of marriage, against its own interests and the interests of the citizenry.

A Proposal
If this society has outgrown the current union of Church and State in the institution of marriage, then it is time for those two entities to separate. The State can easily promote and enforce the relationship of marriage as a secular, civil contract between people. The State is very able to do so as it is designed to function in this manner. It can cease from recognizing, certifying and authorizing religious officials as marriage agents of the State. The State can determine the qualifications of those who can enter into a civil union without regards to religious influences and preferences. Instead, the qualifications which are in the best interest of the citizens and the State can be codified and enforced. The "bottom line" of this proposal is that the State will only recognize the civil union as a marriage; it will not and cannot recognize the religious unions as a marriage.

The religious institutions can continue with the traditional religious institution of marriage without interference from the State. If they wish to exclude some from their religious institution of marriage, so be it. This is a religious matter, not a civil matter.

In this manner the vast majority of the citizens of this country can freely enjoy the civil and secular benefits of a State recognized marriage, a civil institution of marriage. Those who have religious preferences can continue their practices unmolested, without hindering others who do not share the same religious beliefs. The religious institutions can be free of fear since they cannot be forced to accept the State sanctioned marriage.

Many find the experience of change to be challenging, unsavory and unsettling. There will be those who will be influenced to become very angry and outraged at such a radical proposal. In spite of this, it is my hope that this proposal can be considered as a positive, sane way in which we can overcome the divisions and turmoil which has accompanied this issue.

(C)2012 Keith S. Radcliffe

Financial Giving

Subtitle: Sharing Financial Resources in the Body of Christ

This posting is for those who desire to cease supporting religious institutions, preferring instead to begin sharing their financial resources with individuals in the Body of Christ. Note: This posting is not a solicitation for money!
In addition, I assume that the giver has their finances in order; you know how much you have available to give without compromising your ability to support yourself and your family.

Please read Acts 20:34, 35
Paul is addressing the Elders of Ephesus regarding his work and their work in the Body of Christ at Ephesus. While he served among the elders and believers, Paul supported himself AND those who he brought with him to help in this service. By his manner of life, he was an example to the elders and the believers. They are charged to conduct their lives in the same way. Supporting yourself and your service in the Body of Christ without becoming a financial burden to the Body of Christ is how we (those who serve) are to conduct ourselves. Finally, Paul expresses that this kind of living helps the weak and is a fulfillment of Jesus' words, "…it is more blessed to give than to receive."

Note what is not stated in these verses; there are no promises, there are no orders or directives, there is no solicitation for personal support or gain. Paul and Jesus are the examples of serving and giving. Both gave of themselves without regard to the response of those they served. There was no hidden agenda or ulterior motive in their service or giving. Paul and Jesus both served and gave as they walked by the spirit, by revelation. They are our examples.

For the individual believer who desires to serve and give in the Body of Christ, the first principles are clear. Support yourself (which includes your family and extended family of believers) first. If you are serving with other individuals, contribute to the support of each other as well. After that consider contributing financially to others in the Body of Christ, then to others outside the Body of Christ. Of course this is not law, nor is it a formula or recipe.

The intent and attitude of financial giving is important. Observe the lives of Paul and Jesus, how they served. As stated before, there was no hidden agenda or ulterior motive in their service. So it is with giving financial assistance to others. Giving with conditions and restrictions or lending is not prohibited. However, these are in the realm of financial transactions, not giving as is being discussed here.

Throughout my life as a believer, I have given to individuals many times and I have assisted others with this subject. Harboring hidden agendas or hidden expectations as to the result of the giving can have dreadful consequences. When the response of the receiver is not in accordance with the expectations of the giver, it can result in a poisoning of the relationship. Quarreling, bitterness, hurt and anger can and has been the result for both the giver and the receiver. If the giver cannot give unconditionally it would be better not to give at all. When you give, make sure that everyone involved knows that there are "no strings attached".

Paul and Jesus served and gave as they walked by the spirit. Walking by the spirit, revelation, is the best way to give. It usually does not require a lot of time to decide whether to share of your finances or not. You do not have to go "pray about it". Most of the time it is a matter of getting quiet enough to hear the voice of God; then you know. If you are married it may be best to decide as a couple. I have consulted my wife on many occasions; I have learned that if we are not in agreement right away, then the answer is "no". That is the way it is in my life.

Don't give away what you need to live on, your housing, food, utility bills, etc. You are not required to give financially to anyone outside of those who you are directly responsible for. In the financial realm you are NOT "your brother's keeper". Additionally, the need of the person you give to does not determine the amount you give. If you choose to give, you give of what you are able to give. Once that amount is gone, your giving is done until you have received more to give. There are times when I have replied to a request, "…my giving is all allocated for now."

Don't give to someone who uses scripture to intimidate you to give them money. Refuse to do it. This is an improper and twisted use of scripture. The devil excels at using your good qualities against you, particularly your respect for scripture and your love for God. You are not obligated to support or contribute to family members who are involved in drug or alcohol abuse. Refuse to give to them as well.

Finally, get used to the fact that you will make mistakes in your service and in your financial giving. It's going to happen more than once. Learn from these mistakes and keep moving. There is no condemnation! As you learn how to walk by the spirit in the financial category of life you will find that much good can be done with these resources in the Body of Christ.

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(C)2012 Keith S. Radcliffe