As was laid out in part one, there is a specific form of marriage that can be arranged to offer maximum protection based on the fundamental rights of religious free exercise, right to marry and right to contract. However, this can’t happen in a vacuum. The family can’t do it alone, there has to be a real church there to help with the heavy lifting.
The first problem is it’s extremely difficult to find a church. Remember that Israel was a very religious nation, but when Elijah said he was the only one left who worshiped the Lord, the Lord told Elijah He had 5000 who had not bowed the knee and kissed the Baal. I’d guess it’s about the same in the US today. There might be 5000 churches out there, but they’re in hiding.
You might be wondering what I’m talking about, when every major city lists many hundreds of churches in the yellow pages. The problem is what most call a church isn’t actually a church. Just like the issue of marriage, we have to define what a church is correctly. A local church is a congregation of believers who are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the creator and founder of the church. He is the head of the church and the ultimate authority of the church.
What one sees, instead of churches, are not-for-profit corporations that offer services of a religious nature to the general public. These corporations were created by the state and have an obligation to obey the law of their creation. These companies are limited in what they can do by their charter to do business. They are creatures of the state, not Jesus, the Christ, and that’s the law.
“Upon the other hand, the corporation is a creature of the State. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public. It receives certain special privileges and franchises, and holds them subject to the laws of the State and the limitations of its charter. Its powers are limited by law. It can make no contract not authorized by its charter. Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it so long as it obeys the laws of its creation. There is a reserved right in the legislature to investigate its contracts and find out whether it has exceeded its powers. It would be a strange anomaly to hold that a State, having chartered a corporation to make use of certain franchises, could not, in the exercise of its sovereignty, inquire how these franchises had been employed, and whether they had been abused, and demand the production of the corporate books and papers for that purpose.” Hale v Henkel, 201 US 43; (1906) Emphasis added.
Now, take a look at 1st Corinthians 6:1-6. While the reader may see an ecclesiastical court or an arbitration board described there, I see the way out of the State courts because it very much looks to me like a command that believers bring their controversies before the church for judgment; not to the State.
It isn’t enough to not get a marriage license. It isn’t enough to have a tight contract. There has to be a manner and method of dispute resolution that holds together with what the Bible says. Why are the two of you waiving your right to go before the courts of the world? Because that’s what the Bible says to do. It isn’t a polite gesture because we don’t agree with what’s going on, God told us to stay out of the courts of the ungodly. Forcing me into the courts of the world means my rights of religious free exercise are being violated. Commanded not to be in the courts of the world, I’m forced to choose between sinning by showing up or violating the order of the court by not showing up. Either way, I’m being damaged.
This is not a sneaky way to deny recourse to an injured party, this is a matter of religious free exercise that holds to the same form as any ‘normal’ waiver of right to sue in favor of mandatory, agreed-upon binding arbitration. It’s normal, it’s done all the time, but in this case God requires it.
But if, to the shame of the church, not even a single wise one is found to hear such cases, the whole thing could fall apart. Terminal testicular atrophy on the part of the elders will destroy any church. The elders may be fem-bots who will shaft you as badly as or even worse than a family court. They may be cowards and refuse to do their job. What if the so-called church is actually a corporation? I don’t want to find out what kind of mischief that could cause. The State is the creator and master of its corporation and that matters.
I personally saw a church split in Springfield Missouri back in the mid-90’s. First, the pastor (a seminary graduate) got saved. As he started walking with the Lord, he started changing the Sunday services and they became profoundly more worshipful. His sermons started talking about salvation, then sin and finally repentance. That was the last straw. The churchians fell out with the Christians, fired the pastor in a secret board meeting the Christians weren’t told about and it wound up in court. The first judicial determination the judge made was to find the church was a Missouri not-for-profit corporation. After that, the doctrine, statement of faith and the Bible were deemed irrelevant (The now-fired pastor was threatened with contempt if he mentioned the Bible in her court again) and the case was decided based on the Missouri Code governing corporations. It took me several years to realize she was correct in her decision: It wasn’t really a church at all.
On the other hand, a group of believers who meet in somebody’s home to pray, sing hymns, study the Bible and exhort one another is actually a house church in all but name… but without the business and commerce ties to the State. Just like the loudest voices denouncing the covenant marriage as being unworkable are attorneys, the loudest voices arguing that the fact the congregation is incorporated doesn’t matter will be the pastor. The employees of the church are the primary beneficiaries of the corporate business model because after a certain point, it’s all about money.