A long time ago, I got into a long discussion with Eric about marriage and how it should be recognized, by the state or by the church, and who should be allowed to marry, etc. He proposed the idea that the church should recognize (or not) the marriage of whomever it wants, and the state recognize civil unions of anyone.
I don't know who else has proposed this idea, or if it was original, but I was surprised tonight when working through my Book Club reading, to find that that it was endorsed by C.S. Lewis over 50 years ago in (essentially) his catechism of the Christian faith, Mere Christianity.
"My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.
Lewis's discussion of the institution of marriage happens to be in the context of divorce, and whether laws banning it should be enforced on all citizens. As I recall, the discussion in question from long ago centered around the issue of homosexual marriage, during the heated amendment process.
Stay tuned for continuing thoughts on Lewis, and Why More of the Religious Right Really Ought to be Logical, Rational and not Crazy, Thus Giving More Credibility to Christians As a Whole.