Here is an interesting post about the differences between government-sanctioned civil marriage and church blessed marriages.
Denying LGBTQ couples the right to a civil-contract marriage would facially violate the “due process” clause of the 5th Amendment and the “equal protection” clause of the 14th, just as much as denying LGBTQ people the right to mortgage and cellphone contracts on the basis of sexual orientation. There is no constitutional justification for either prohibition.
By the same token, religious communities have a corresponding and co-equal right to deny LGBTQ couples sacramental validation of their relationships. Such a denial by a religious community of sacramental recognition of such marriages has no effect whatsoever on the legal standing of those relationships. Furthermore, because of the “free exercise” clause, the government is constitutionally powerless to coerce any religious community into recognizing the religious validity of an LGBTQ marriage, if that community’s theological doctrine mandates otherwise. Just as “no man can put asunder what God has joined together”, so also no government can force together that which the community’s teachings dictate must be separate. Marriage-as-legal-contract is over here, marriage-as-religious-sacrament is over there, and “never the twain shall meet”.
The post highlights something that is easy to forget. Our conversations about marriage are hopelessly muddled by the fact that we use the word “marriage” to refer to the legal status recognized by the government, which bestows social and legal benefits on a couple bearing that status, and to the result of two people be made one flesh by a union ordained and blessed by God.
We often talk in the church about the need rehabilitate or refurbish old words. I wonder if we might gain some clarity by coming up with a different word to describe what we are talking about when we talk about Christian marriage. Perhaps just making sure to always use the adjective “Christian” is enough.