Why would government have any authority in personal areas like marriage?

Posted: Aug 28/2k


This question came in some time ago:


Dear Glenn,

My 18 year old son posed a question that I haven't fully been able to answer.  Here it is: Why is marriage to more than one person the government's busness? He is a Christian and knows it is morally wrong but secularly speaking (gov't) we live in a pluralistic society where the gov't should only  be involved in protecting our individual rights so long as it  does not infringe on the rights of others. He tends to be  libertarian and is a senior in high school taking a psychology class. My son is a deep thinker! We have interesting theology discussions and I am teaching him about the sovereignty of God especially in salvation. Any help would be appreciated.



I did a quick (and typically terse and obscure) answer:


Off the top of my head, I would point out two things:


1. Romans 13 (etc.) argues that civil govt has a 'ministry' of enforcing SOME types of morals on its citizens [it would be worth a family study on the subject of NT interactions with civil and religio-civil authority]


2. the 'logically obvious' areas for this to be 'reasonable' are those that are restricted to social fabric...in other words, in those areas that must be "51%" okay for community to even exist...this would certainly include aspects of marriage and family, since all cultures depend on family and kinship ties to exist.


this would argue that God set up civil government 'propensities' on the part of humans, in order to build reinforcing structures for ONLY THOSE MORALS that affect the 'social basis' for community interaction. Thus, rules about adultery were strictly enforced in even the brutal and often immoral society of the Roman Empire of Paul's day.


I hope this gets you started (does this make sense?)




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