Friday, February 8, 2008

Defining marriage, part 1

The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that our California Supreme Court is preparing to discuss whether it is "legal" to prohibit homosexual marriage.

Since 1977, California law has specified marriage as between one man and one woman. This traditional definition was strongly affirmed by the public in 2000, when Proposition 22 was passed. Also known as "The California Defense of Marriage Act," Prop. 22 simply stated,
"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

However, both California law and Prop. 22 came under attack in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the county clerk to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. These licenses were quickly overturned by the California Supreme Court, but it became obvious that this issue was not going to go away.
In 2005, the San Francisco Superior Court Judge ruled Prop. 22 unconstitutional, but one year later, the First Disctrict Court of Appeal overturned this ruling.

The debate over the definition of marriage has been gradually building up steam since that time. In December 2006, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and now it seems that a court date of March 4, 2008, has finally been set. It is expected that if the Supreme Court overturns the 1977 Law and Prop. 22, the California legislature will quickly pass a new law defining marriage as being between "two persons."

Next week, I will discuss why this issue has profound significance for a California pastor like myself, and what we should do to preserve the traditional definition of marriage. Let me say at the very outset that I am not attacking homosexuals as persons. I affirm their rights as citizens of the United States, and men and women created in the image of God. I have been personal friends with a number of homosexuals, and have always sought to treat them with great courtesy, dignity, and love.

Nevertheless, as both a Christian and a pastor, I am called by God and compelled by conscience to honor the clear teaching of Scripture and lovingly declare homosexual behavior as sinful and dishonoring to the Lord. Furthermore, I believe that expanding the definition of marriage to include same sex couples would have a deleterious effect on society. But more on that next week.

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