A friend asks how the “mere Christendom” I envision would handle off-budget (i.e. private) gay “marriages.” Would they be illegal?
A related issue, given that this mere Christendom is a ways off, has to do with what we should be looking for in the mean time. Evangelical Christians in North America do not have their act together enough to ask for, still less to receive, any approximation of mere Christendom. There is a lot of evangelism to do yet. But that’s not the worst of it. We do have our act together enough to ask for, and receive, something. So in the interim, what should that something be? We would obviously ask for something better than what we have now, but the temptation would be to be misled by that interim arrangement. Makeshifts have morphed into something permanent more than once.
The short answer to the first question is that homosexual marriage would be a nullity, no more legal or illegal than circular triangles would be. I do not support the concept of same sex mirage. Acts of sodomy would of course be illegal, and what some people might privately call “marriage” would simply be their rationalization for committing those acts. Such labeling would not legitimize the acts. As far as other aspects of marriage go — shared property, ICU visitation, end of life decisions — I have no objection to those sorts of issues being addressed by means of contracts between any competent parties — as long as there are no marital connotations or approximations at all. No civil unions, in other words. The name of such agreements should be named things like “shared property agreement,” “power of attorney,” etc.
This obviously relates to the question about the interim — if illegal, what would the enforcement be like? An acceptable interim arrangement for me would be the way it was in the first two years of Eisenhower’s administration — hardly a human rights hellhole. But this is not really achievable as a practical matter, for the following reason.
Trajectories are always key, which means that we must always be wary of hypotheticals that run contrary to the way the world actually is. What would you say about a nation of industrious and highly productive lotus-eaters? Well, nothing, because it isn’t going to happen. I would say the same thing about a nation that allowed for homosexual marriage, but which also protected, in a robust fashion, the right of the Church to be the Church, and the right of individual believers to live according to their conscience. I would say nothing about it, one way or another, because it is not going to happen. If a gay activist (trying to be genuine libertarian) disputes this and says to me that gays should be allowed to marry, and Christian bakers should be allowed to refuse to bake the cake for them, I will simply observe mildly that the momentum is currently yours — show me how tolerant you are, and then we will talk about it. The early returns do not appear to be making your point.
In a similar way, a civilization with a robust faith in Jesus can drift downward into that interim of the Eisenhower years, but the cities of the plain would never have drifted upward into it. So the arrival of mere Christendom will therefore be convulsive — but it won’t be a legal revolution. It will be a great reformation and revival — it will happen the same way the early Christians conquered Rome. Their program of conquest consisted largely of two elements — gospel preaching and being eaten by lions — a strategy that has not yet captured the imagination of the the contemporary church.
So we should set a limit to our counterfactuals. If Hell were located on the beach, with palm trees and a pleasant breeze, and no fire, I suppose it could be okay . . .