Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Churches Cut Out Weddings
Well this is a new twist. In an attempt to protest the illegality of gay weddings, some liberal churches are refusing to do any civil weddings at all. The pastors who are refusing to sign legal wedding licenses are predominately from a handful of small liberal churches, according to the Associated Press article, I believe this past Sunday (the article was handed to me in church undated.)
These churches, however, may perform a religious ceremony "to bless the unions of straight and gay couples - but straight couples must go separately to a judge or justice of the peace for the marriage license," the article reports. The idea being pushed is that the separation of church and state should dictate that civil marriages and religious ceremonies celebrating a marriage are two different things. Under the guise of this separation principle these pastors are thus refusing to perform "civil marriages."
Interesting. As Lutherans we have never had a problem recognizing a purely civil wedding as being a legitimate marriage. We celebrate this union in church in recognition of the fact that marriage was created by God Himself, and is the recipient of His many blesssings. And therein is the rub. Those in support of homosexual unions have been unsuccessful in getting the state to broaden the definition of "marriage" to include the union of gay as well as straight couples. Attempt after attempt was launched across the nation, yet each went down in flames, rejected by one state after another in official referendums. So, now that this attempt has failed, the move is to reject any connection between the civil definition of marriage and the church. Marriage is a "religious thing," and civil unions are religiously neutral? Am I getting it right?
The battle at hand is still very much a cultural one. It is not an issue of the separation of church and state. The issue is the institution of marriage as it has been understood and supported throughout our history. Yes, there are religious issues at state as well. But the fight is to get the state to redefine the uniqueness of an institution that has been the foundation of our social fabric as a nation, and in the process to create a new institution that comes with an entirely different set of values.