John V. Stevens, Sr., an experienced religious liberty advocate, responds to Professor Crane's article "A Judeo-Christian Argument for Privatizing Marriage" from his perspective as a Seventh-day Adventist.  He has provided his kind permission to reproduce it here.  I hope that this can be a springboard for discussion on this important issue facing all Americans regardless of religious affiliation.


Editor


Thank you for sharing this item. As you know, I am personally opposed to same sex unions. But I am also opposed to a lot of other things, such as honoring the pagan day of the sun in the name of Christianity and rejecting the day God blessed and sanctified for our worship and fellowship.

But my God has given everyone the power to choose and if I am going to have His image restored in me, and that is my goal, then I will have to accept that part of Him, and honor the freedom to make choices of people with whom I disagree. I cannot in good conscience deny others the right that I wish to claim as my own. Consequently I oppose all constitutional amendments to codify religion or any aspect of it into law.

Bringing the recognition of the marriage union to the church and to private institutions with the submission of a simple form informing the government that the marriage has taken place is fine with me.  That provision would make the marriage legal in case of divorce, etc.  But the government could not under this plan require a license, hence no one needs the government's permission to get married.

These people who oppose same sex marriage and want the government to enforce their personal religious views are the identical people that want the government to conduct worship services in the public schools for their minor children, and force non believers' children to attend such services.  I find that repulsive and unacceptable and yes, even unAmerican.

We are witnessing a replay of the time when Christ was tried and sentenced to curcifixion. Remember the religious leaders' testimony?  "We have no king but Caesar."  Whenever the church resorts to the state asking them to do for them what God has not seen fit to do, they testify anew that the state is mightier and more capable than God, whom they profess to worship and serve.  So we hear in these demands by religiously conservative political forces, "We have no king but Caesar." Wonder how God must feel about that and them, for whom He paid an infinite price?

Having lobbied government on all levels for over 45 years I have yet to find anything in which the government really excels, and that I apply to all governments in the world.  They are made up of faulty people, for there are no other kinds, including ourselves, and what then can we expect? And I certainly honor the far sighted wisdom of our Founders in making this new nation a secular one, where religion is not controlled by the government and where the government is not controlled by religion, the latter being one that is taking place and expanding.

Such thinking and acting is bringing us daily closer to the fulfillment of Revelation 13:11-18. It is so sad that we are headed that direction, especially when our beginning, and during much of our history, we have reflected the lamb, Christ.

Even so come Lord Jesus. Amen.

John V. Stevens, Sr.

 
 

11 Comments

  1. Alison Agins says:

    Thank you John Stevens.

    My comments are really directed towards those that are for the amendment or are unsure about what they should feel about this. Especially when the church has decided to announce they are in the camp of the Constitutional amendment folks.

    I have been a supporter and participant in Religious Liberty and I have not signed up with Religious Liberty to petition the government to change the Constitution to deny any other the right to pursue their happiness with someone that they love.

    In the beginning God sanctified two things. Marriage and the Sabbath. We know what has happened to both of these God made institutions. And as Adventists we do not ask the government to establish the Sabbath but we fully expect that one day churchmen will petition the government to change the Constitution to do just that. Only it will be a man made Sabbath day and not the one that God ordained. How is it that we look ahead knowing that that will happen and that there will be persecutions involved with it, and then as a church issue a manifesto that we support the very churches and established religions that will one day try to deny our right to worship on the day that we choose.

    Are we not told that there is a coming together with nominal Christians over shared values so that when the lines need to be drawn it will be too late?

    What I see happening are people that feel they are born with only the capacity to be drawn to others of the same sex for wholeness that is found in loving another. I don't understand it because I was not wired that way. But instead of being afraid of what I don't understand, or being repulsed by what I don't know, I am trying to think "what Jesus would do". What I read is what he said to the churchmen of his day. He called them hypocrites. I'm thinking that this is what is going on today.

    We have many really terrible social problems. There are children that are abused and broken by those that should be loving and protecting them. Women that are being beaten and killed by the men that they love. Wages that do not put food on the table and families losing their homes, and their families are not eating properly. A lying government that sends its young people into a war that if it doesn't kill them it maims them for life either in body or soul. The mental problems that the vets are going to be facing for the next 50 years or more is staggering. There are children without homes, food, shelter, and are in fact indentured slaves in thousands of places and even in this great country that most people are so quick to rally round the flag for.
    Why on earth are we not in the streets about these things? Or at least writing our representatives. Why isn't this on our agenda as something to get really outraged and excited about?

    My granddaughter is a social worker in a Western state. The messes that she has to deal with every day are really horrible. She has to remove children from homes and then has to find a place for them. Now there is a problem that this church could step up to the plate about. Where is the outpouring of love and concern when we read each day in the paper of another family losing someone to gun violence. Why as a church are we not standing up against the gun lobby?

    But what are we as a church getting all riled up about? About same sex marriage.
    This is crazy! Don't we understand that if we align ourselves with the right wing churches that we will not have a leg to stand on when they decided to amend the Constitution regarding the social benefits of Sunday closing laws?

    Our church is full of divorce. Over half of all marriages end in divorce in this country. When one gets a divorce one does not go to the church for the legal requirements. You go before a judge a civil judge.
    Even when one gets married you first must go to the civil courts to apply for the proper papers, you register it with Civil courts, you register your children with the civil courts and you divorce through them also. Many people are not married in church. They are not Christian and just as we don't force anyone to attend church we should not be basing a constitutional amendment upon religious grounds. Marriage is a civil matter. As Christians we go the extra part and have a preacher say, "I now pronounce you man and wife." Who gives him the authority? Civil authorities. For this amendment to pass and become law, churchmen are appealing to the civil authorities to do their work for them. We are against government controlled prayer in school and in the Ten Commandments being posted in the Courthouse… so why then are we joining that bunch in this act of asking the state to enforce religion on the entire state and then country?
    How would we like it if Islam became so powerful in California that the state and Civil authorities were asked to pass a law that all men could and should have four wives?

    We cannot have it both ways. If we are Religious Liberty leaders and each one of us should be, then how can we do this thing and then face law makers asking for religious freedom in other areas?

    We are supposed to be warning our members and the world of what is soon to come upon us. We should not be in the business or go about the business of bringing more hatred and hardship upon people that have had so much go against them all their lives. The gays that I know, and I know quite a few, are wonderful people. Many of them do not see a need to marry, but for those that do what is it going to do to straight people? To children of straight parents? I tell you the truth, it will not cause your son or your daughter to switch from being straight to being gay. They are wired one way or another. Gay marriage is not a threat to any straight marriage. In any marriage the main threat is selfishness and pride.

    It is not an easy thing to find a mate. It doesn't matter if you are gay or straight it is a hard thing. There are so many lonely people in this world and really who are we to deny someone that we don't know the right to gain some happiness and have the state say that they are united. So many gays are religious. They love the Lord too. I say let the Lord handle this. He will decide not you or I.

  2. Alison Agins says:

    Thank you John Stevens.

    My comments are really directed towards those that are for the amendment or are unsure about what they should feel about this. Especially when the church has decided to announce they are in the camp of the Constitutional amendment folks.

    I have been a supporter and participant in Religious Liberty and I have not signed up with Religious Liberty to petition the government to change the Constitution to deny any other the right to pursue their happiness with someone that they love.

    In the beginning God sanctified two things. Marriage and the Sabbath. We know what has happened to both of these God made institutions. And as Adventists we do not ask the government to establish the Sabbath but we fully expect that one day churchmen will petition the government to change the Constitution to do just that. Only it will be a man made Sabbath day and not the one that God ordained. How is it that we look ahead knowing that that will happen and that there will be persecutions involved with it, and then as a church issue a manifesto that we support the very churches and established religions that will one day try to deny our right to worship on the day that we choose.

    Are we not told that there is a coming together with nominal Christians over shared values so that when the lines need to be drawn it will be too late?

    What I see happening are people that feel they are born with only the capacity to be drawn to others of the same sex for wholeness that is found in loving another. I don't understand it because I was not wired that way. But instead of being afraid of what I don't understand, or being repulsed by what I don't know, I am trying to think "what Jesus would do". What I read is what he said to the churchmen of his day. He called them hypocrites. I'm thinking that this is what is going on today.

    We have many really terrible social problems. There are children that are abused and broken by those that should be loving and protecting them. Women that are being beaten and killed by the men that they love. Wages that do not put food on the table and families losing their homes, and their families are not eating properly. A lying government that sends its young people into a war that if it doesn't kill them it maims them for life either in body or soul. The mental problems that the vets are going to be facing for the next 50 years or more is staggering. There are children without homes, food, shelter, and are in fact indentured slaves in thousands of places and even in this great country that most people are so quick to rally round the flag for.
    Why on earth are we not in the streets about these things? Or at least writing our representatives. Why isn't this on our agenda as something to get really outraged and excited about?

    My granddaughter is a social worker in a Western state. The messes that she has to deal with every day are really horrible. She has to remove children from homes and then has to find a place for them. Now there is a problem that this church could step up to the plate about. Where is the outpouring of love and concern when we read each day in the paper of another family losing someone to gun violence. Why as a church are we not standing up against the gun lobby?

    But what are we as a church getting all riled up about? About same sex marriage.
    This is crazy! Don't we understand that if we align ourselves with the right wing churches that we will not have a leg to stand on when they decided to amend the Constitution regarding the social benefits of Sunday closing laws?

    Our church is full of divorce. Over half of all marriages end in divorce in this country. When one gets a divorce one does not go to the church for the legal requirements. You go before a judge a civil judge.
    Even when one gets married you first must go to the civil courts to apply for the proper papers, you register it with Civil courts, you register your children with the civil courts and you divorce through them also. Many people are not married in church. They are not Christian and just as we don't force anyone to attend church we should not be basing a constitutional amendment upon religious grounds. Marriage is a civil matter. As Christians we go the extra part and have a preacher say, "I now pronounce you man and wife." Who gives him the authority? Civil authorities. For this amendment to pass and become law, churchmen are appealing to the civil authorities to do their work for them. We are against government controlled prayer in school and in the Ten Commandments being posted in the Courthouse… so why then are we joining that bunch in this act of asking the state to enforce religion on the entire state and then country?
    How would we like it if Islam became so powerful in California that the state and Civil authorities were asked to pass a law that all men could and should have four wives?

    We cannot have it both ways. If we are Religious Liberty leaders and each one of us should be, then how can we do this thing and then face law makers asking for religious freedom in other areas?

    We are supposed to be warning our members and the world of what is soon to come upon us. We should not be in the business or go about the business of bringing more hatred and hardship upon people that have had so much go against them all their lives. The gays that I know, and I know quite a few, are wonderful people. Many of them do not see a need to marry, but for those that do what is it going to do to straight people? To children of straight parents? I tell you the truth, it will not cause your son or your daughter to switch from being straight to being gay. They are wired one way or another. Gay marriage is not a threat to any straight marriage. In any marriage the main threat is selfishness and pride.

    It is not an easy thing to find a mate. It doesn't matter if you are gay or straight it is a hard thing. There are so many lonely people in this world and really who are we to deny someone that we don't know the right to gain some happiness and have the state say that they are united. So many gays are religious. They love the Lord too. I say let the Lord handle this. He will decide not you or I.

  3. Alison Agins says:

    I should have also included this thought.

    It is time to be "wise as serpents". There are times when the church should remain silent. We should be in the business of seeking the lost and not driving them into the wilderness.

    I believe that the church should not join our voices and opinions to the Religious Right in this case. This should be up to individuals to join or not.

  4. Alison Agins says:

    I should have also included this thought.

    It is time to be "wise as serpents". There are times when the church should remain silent. We should be in the business of seeking the lost and not driving them into the wilderness.

    I believe that the church should not join our voices and opinions to the Religious Right in this case. This should be up to individuals to join or not.

  5. Kevin says:

    There is a moral deminsion of society that is not derived from Judeo-Christian tenants. Marriage transends this religion and others and for eons has been the basic means of union of a man and a woman. Only until recent history has same sex unions been pushed forth as another alternative, even as normal an alternative as heterosexual coupling. Yet, homosexuality is not new as it has gone on for the many millenia that preceeds us, and for it never to get the airing of being normal until recent says something about what societies have felt, morally even, about what makes a normal and acceptable union. Today, religious or not, the vast majority of Americans, and the vast majority of other societies in the world, homosexuality is not accepted as normal. Society's make up on this issue is a valid means of enforcing the morality of this issue through legislative means if necessary.

    I think it good that California has its people, not legislators, not judges, not the Govenor, giving voice to this matter. It will be found, as earlier, that most people don't think gay marriage is right and should not be given legal protection and/or promotion, and it is as it should be.

  6. Kevin says:

    There is a moral deminsion of society that is not derived from Judeo-Christian tenants. Marriage transends this religion and others and for eons has been the basic means of union of a man and a woman. Only until recent history has same sex unions been pushed forth as another alternative, even as normal an alternative as heterosexual coupling. Yet, homosexuality is not new as it has gone on for the many millenia that preceeds us, and for it never to get the airing of being normal until recent says something about what societies have felt, morally even, about what makes a normal and acceptable union. Today, religious or not, the vast majority of Americans, and the vast majority of other societies in the world, homosexuality is not accepted as normal. Society's make up on this issue is a valid means of enforcing the morality of this issue through legislative means if necessary.

    I think it good that California has its people, not legislators, not judges, not the Govenor, giving voice to this matter. It will be found, as earlier, that most people don't think gay marriage is right and should not be given legal protection and/or promotion, and it is as it should be.

  7. Alison Agins says:

    In the South during the time of slavery, "most people" thought that it was the norm. That it was even Biblical.

    We are a Republic. A nation built on law. If one goes by the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Civil Rights…then marriage between two people should not be denied because of race,religion or gender.
    There is no one that is asking you to marry someone of the same sex. You are not being forced to do something against your conscience.
    It actually most likely doesn't even have an impact upon you one way or the other. It won't make your marriage any less of a marriage. Only you can do that.

    If we ask the people to decide by majority then one day, the people will decide by majority to bring about the laws to close shop on Sunday. Then for health and safety, they will next demand that you attend church on Sunday.

    This argument is not about whether or not God approves of gay marriage. I KNOW He does not approve of divorce.
    This argument is about denying or forcing other's to do or not do based on religion. This we should not have any part in.

  8. Alison Agins says:

    In the South during the time of slavery, "most people" thought that it was the norm. That it was even Biblical.

    We are a Republic. A nation built on law. If one goes by the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Civil Rights…then marriage between two people should not be denied because of race,religion or gender.
    There is no one that is asking you to marry someone of the same sex. You are not being forced to do something against your conscience.
    It actually most likely doesn't even have an impact upon you one way or the other. It won't make your marriage any less of a marriage. Only you can do that.

    If we ask the people to decide by majority then one day, the people will decide by majority to bring about the laws to close shop on Sunday. Then for health and safety, they will next demand that you attend church on Sunday.

    This argument is not about whether or not God approves of gay marriage. I KNOW He does not approve of divorce.
    This argument is about denying or forcing other's to do or not do based on religion. This we should not have any part in.

  9. Lawrence De Fehr, Esq. says:

    I disagree with the notion that prop 8 crosses over the line of separation of church and state by legislating morality (even if morality was the determining factor). First and foremost, Prop 8 is not legislating morality. It does hinder, prevent, criminalize or outlaw the right to be gay, to live together, or to have the same rights of a married couple (i.e. under the Domestic Partner Act). Secondly, if morality was the determining factor in line between church and state, then a great many of the states laws would violate such a separation. Without going into a long constitutional legal analysis, Prop 8 neither establishes a religion nor does interferers with the free exercise there off. Thirdly, Prop 8 does not tread on the rights of a minority by the majority (should Prop 8 pass). Gays have every right to live their life free from governmental intrusion under this constitutional amendment. Similarly, the majority also has every right to enact laws they see fit so long as they do not infringe on the rights of the minority; Prop 8 does no such thing.

    As Christians we should never be afraid to stand up for biblical principles of morality however unpopular or confrontational they may seem. Nor should we try to rationalize a less stance to avoid ridicule or the consequences such a stance may bring. It has long been said (and I am paraphrasing) that silence is the voice of complicity and neutrality a crime.

  10. Lawrence De Fehr, Esq. says:

    I disagree with the notion that prop 8 crosses over the line of separation of church and state by legislating morality (even if morality was the determining factor). First and foremost, Prop 8 is not legislating morality. It does hinder, prevent, criminalize or outlaw the right to be gay, to live together, or to have the same rights of a married couple (i.e. under the Domestic Partner Act). Secondly, if morality was the determining factor in line between church and state, then a great many of the states laws would violate such a separation. Without going into a long constitutional legal analysis, Prop 8 neither establishes a religion nor does interferers with the free exercise there off. Thirdly, Prop 8 does not tread on the rights of a minority by the majority (should Prop 8 pass). Gays have every right to live their life free from governmental intrusion under this constitutional amendment. Similarly, the majority also has every right to enact laws they see fit so long as they do not infringe on the rights of the minority; Prop 8 does no such thing.

    As Christians we should never be afraid to stand up for biblical principles of morality however unpopular or confrontational they may seem. Nor should we try to rationalize a less stance to avoid ridicule or the consequences such a stance may bring. It has long been said (and I am paraphrasing) that silence is the voice of complicity and neutrality a crime.

 
 
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