Who gets to define marriage? Should it be the Church which represents the Creator of marriage, or a government? Why does the Church require the government to issue a permit when it is a covenant witnessed by the Lord? Why not allow the government to have the secular version with its contracts while the Church deals with the covenant relationships between followers of Jesus? I believe it's the direction we are heading in anyway.
I know there is the issue of not being able to search data bases to make sure the couple is eligible to be married, as in they are not already married to someone else. But surely the Church could develop it's own data base to register a Church marriage. I don't know about everywhere else in the world but here in Canada the government doesn't see any difference between people who were married in the Church and those who have been living together for a year. There are no advantages to a government issued marriage permit.
The reason I bring it up is because the government sees the Church as nothing more than another officiant, on the same level as a judge, clerk, or anyone else authorized to solemnize a marriage. Yet, we know the difference because a marriage has nothing to do with the government and everything to do with Yahweh. The government sees marriage as a legal contract but the Church understands it to be a covenant.
A contract is set up to protect people. It is usually one sided, to protect a persons' rights. Look at any software licensing agreement to see what I mean. A covenant is about what you are going to do, to give, to act for the benefit of another person. It has nothing to do with rights and privileges and everything to do with your vow to the other person: "I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part." Notice, it is what the husband is vowing to do for the his wife, and then she vows something similar, and they call on Yahweh to be the witness to this covenant. This is marriage. Covenant puts the focus on the other person.
It is the same relationship we have with Yahweh. It is not a one sided thing or even a contract we have with him. He has promised to focus on us and we in turn promise to focus on him. Let's use Jacob as an example. He had just left his father and mother in search of a wife when he encountered a vision of Yahweh. In this vision Yahweh made a vow to him, the same as he had made to his father and grandfather. He promised him land, that his family would become a nation, and that all nations would be blessed because of them. He promised that he would be with Jacob, would protect him wherever he went, and that he would bring him back to this land. Now look at Jacob's response and his end of the covenant:
This is covenant. Consider us with Jesus. Look at all the things he has done for us, not for himself, in this covenant relationship. We often refer to these things as blessings but they are what he has vowed to us, those who enter into covenant. Our part is to say that he is our God, that we give ourselves fully to him, love him with our entire being, focus only on him, to obey, to worship and to serve. We are not always faithful to our vow but praise the Lord he is faithful to his.
So not all marriages are created equal. Not all are considered as covenants. Not all call on Yahweh as their witness. So why should the Church participate in what is nothing more than a shadow of the original? Why marry people who are going through a ceremony for the sake of tradition instead of truth? We are at a stage in history where we need to burst our little bubble, realize the world has changed and start drawing the difference between the sacred and the secular. Leave the world to call it what it wants but we know the real beauty of marriage is found in the covenant relationship that a man and woman enter into for the benefit of the other person, calling on Yahweh as their witness to their vows of love.