There have been quite a few yard signs like the one you see on the right that have been popping up in my neighborhood. The sign says: "Vote NO. Don't limit the freedom to marry." The sentiment on the sign speaks to the upcoming Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota state constitution, which seeks to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The occasion of these signs popping up in my neighborhood, along with my continual pondering of what I consider to be the most important article in the homosexual marriage conversation (which I've been looking for an excuse to repost), has led me to think more about the idea of "limiting the freedom to marry" and why doing so is actually a good thing.
The trick here is the use of the word "freedom," and the idea the yard sign is communicating is that limiting freedom to marry is a bad thing. Nobody wants to be accused of taking away the rights of another group of people. But if you think about it for longer than a second or two, the government already limits the freedom to marry in several ways - not even including the current prohibition on gay marriage. For example, a married man does not have the freedom to marry another woman and take a second wife. His freedom to marry is limited. Furthermore, a man does not have the right to marry a sister, cousin, or other close relation. His freedom is likewise limited. The same is true for someone who wants to marry an animal. We have limited a person's freedom to marry out of species. Children are not allowed to marry. Their freedom to marry is limited. So the notion that "limiting the freedom to marry" is an inherently bad thing doesn't hold water. Furthermore, it can and should be argued that limiting the freedom to marry in matters of polygamy, bestiality, and incest is a good and positive thing.
This is what makes Voddie Baucham's article on why homosexuality is not a civil right all the more important. Gay marriage is not an issue of civil rights or freedom. It simply isn't. That would be like saying that incest and bestiality are civil rights issues. No one would ever say that a prohibition of marriage to animals is an infringement of rights. Or that it is unjust to forbid a man to marry his sister. (Note that I am not equating homosexuality to incest or bestiality here - I'm simply making the point that homosexual marriage is not a civil rights issue and so homosexuals aren't having freedom stripped from them by way of a constitutional prohibition of gay marriage in the same way that polygamists don't have their freedom to marry several women stripped from them when polygamy is outlawed.)
The next question I have, and one that is for another posting, is whether or not we as Christians (or just American people) should have ever given the government such power in the arena of marriage. In other words, why is the government involved in the marriage business at all? If the government were completely out of marriage, and if marriage were left solely to religious institutions, I don't think we'd have any of the hubbub we do now. Even when it comes to all of the deviant forms of marriage I've listed above. For example, no church in their right mind would marry two women to one man. The same is true for marrying one man and one animal. If the religious institutions were allowed to define marriage, we wouldn't have all of this political stuff going on right now. Homosexuals could still be together and co-habitate. Even people with sick desires to marry their sister or an animal could have a relationship with that person - they just couldn't be married for the simple reason that no one would be around to marry them. I really like the idea of the government getting out of marriage completely and leaving marriage up to religious institutions. Till that happens (which it most likely won't), I'm all in favor of limiting the freedom to marry.