Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Manhattan Declaration

Christian Evangelicals have issued a statement calling Christian leaders in the U.S. to hold the line on the "foundational" issues of marriage, abortion, and religious freedom in the face of "growing political pressure." The Manhattan Declaration, as it is being called, is being promoted by Chuck Colson and Professor Robert George (Princeton). The statement is given brief coverage in the November issue of Christianity Today.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/novemberweb-only/146-52.0.html

At the end of the CT article, there is an interesting aside regarding Catholic Bishop's recent attempts to re-focus the institution of marriage on the church. If gay-rights advocates have indeed won the "civil marriage is a civil right" debate, the American church is already thinking ahead. Marriage is more than tax returns and health care benefits. Interestingly, there's nothing new about this move. Christianity has always had a certain flexibility in its "in but not of" this world tension.

On Tuesday, U.S. Catholic Bishops announced a new document emphasizing that marriage is an institution that can't be defined by the state. Catholic leaders wanted to focus their message on marriage, explaining it as a natural partnership that existed before the Bible was written, George said. "For the first time in history, we're talking about redefining marriage," he said. "So the bishops now in this new challenge are making the point that marriage is not something the state creates. Not only does marriage predate the state, marriage predates the church."


  1. very interesting!!! I never thought of the marriage debate in that way.

  2. Hmmmm. I agree and disagree with the Bishops. I agree that marriage cannot be defined by the state, but only by God who created it, but I disagree that marriage is older than the church. Biblically speaking, the church is as old as the creation of Adam.


    Susan Fletcher

  3. I'm not sure either could exist without the other.
    So doesn't that raise the stakes?

  4. I think that is probably a different issue, albeit certainly one worth thinking about, but it is not the point I am trying to make. My point is that I think the Bishops are trying to bolster their argument that marriage is to be defined by God because, well, because it is even older than the church, when the real issue is that God created marriage, not the state. The biblical view is that God is the creator of all three, the church, the state the family, which of course includes marriage. They each have their sphere of sovereignty, which includes specific responsibilities peculiar to each institution, but they are related having been created by the one, true God.