Joe Carter is mostly known for writing Buzzfeed type FAQ articles, at The Gospel Coalition and other outlets, but it seems like the time he has stepped out of that role was to defend David French and advocate for civil unions by using Ruth and Naomi as an example of one. Little does Joe Carter realize, what he advocates for would be a way point for down the slippery slope of degeneracy because civil unions as a compromise position lack any real standards. In an article titled Simple Solution to Same-Sex Civil ‘Marriage’ Joe Carter makes an original argument. But he starts off by defending David French’s credibility.
Not surprisingly, French’s article has received considerable backlash. Dozens of articles, blog posts, and Twitter threads have pushed back against his change of heart. While some of the responses are motivated by personal dislike of French (some have said he’s not even a Christian), I think the general reaction is due to a broader frustration with evangelicals who share his viewpoint. And that group is growing larger every day.
He states that Christians should have embraced civil unions when they were first brought forth.
What do we do about homosexual couples who have ordered their lives around the legal fiction of same-sex marriage? French says, “I wanted gay couples to enjoy marriage-equivalent legal protections but without changing the legal definition of marriage.” That was always a possibility—and still is. We don’t need to attempt to redefine reality and call a tail a leg to achieve this objective. The solution is, and always has been, to promote civil unions.
The problem with civil unions—and the reason they weren’t more broadly endorsed by conservative Christians—is that they were previously promoted as endorsing homosexual couplings but they excluded relationships more worthy of legal recognition.
However, Christians didn’t bend on this because this was a compromised position, and at the time how could we foresee a decision that removed the reserved power in the Constitution for the state to regulate marriage. A biblical response to sodomy is sodomy laws (which the United States had until recent decades), not extending government benefits, rewarding degeneracy.
Rather than using them to provide legitimacy to homosexual relationships, civil unions should be completely desexualized and open to any two adults who desire to enter into a type of contractual relationship known as a mutual beneficiary contract.
The fallacy here is that if it’s not a marriage why should it be limited to only two people. Can’t three people have need of a interdependent relationship, like three broke roommates who want to live off the government.
Our model for such civil unions comes from a most unlikely source: the Book of Ruth.
In that narrative, Ruth displays an amazing dedication to her mother-in-law Naomi. Recently widowed and trying to survive during a time of famine, Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi even though it meant she would almost assuredly live the rest of her life in poverty and eventually die alone. Such love and compassion is so remarkable that many modern readers assume the relationship must have been sexual (it’s a sad commentary on our times that all filial relationships are assumed to have an underlying sexual motivation).
But what if Ruth and Naomi lived in modern-day America? Would they be able to keep this commitment to each other without hindrance from laws that recognize only dependents, guardians, and spouses—including same-sex “spouses”? The law may very well provide them equal protection under certain circumstances, but with the labyrinth of rules and regulations, how would they know what applied?
This is cringe. The story of Ruth and Naomi ends with a real marriage. Secondly as the limitation to two people does not make sense, this would easily be used for further forms of degeneracy to take advantage and gain federal benefits from income based programs.
Desexualizing civil unions would alleviate the concerns of people, like French, who want to allow gay couples in civil “marriages” to enjoy the benefits they currently receive. It would also solve the other problem he addresses: “I wanted gay couples to enjoy the legally protected right to build a life together without creating a legal superstructure that ripped apart religious freedoms that are indispensable to the health of the republic and to the flourishing of countless millions of American lives.”
Desexualized civil unions wouldn’t be a threat to religious liberty in the way same-sex marriages are and will indefinitely continue to be. But even more importantly, it would preserve the government’s purpose of recognizing arrangements that bring stability to our society without endorsing immoral sexual behavior.
Ruth and Naomi did not need legal recognition because the law of God provided a means of sustenance. Understandably times have changed, and with an existent welfare state, Carter’s solution would forward all sorts of degeneracy.
Additionally Carter argues that these civil unions wouldn’t be a waypoint for degeneracy, but it would for orgy relationships which are on the rise and heavily promoted by social media.
Joe Carter’s nonsensical solution that he eisegeted from Scripture cannot contain the madness of Romans 1 unleashed on our society. It’s not even a good attempt as it only further dilutes the institution of marriage and family.
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