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.

4 comments:

318@NICE said...

Pastor,
Interesting article. In the Catholic Church, only a Catholic wedding, in a Catholic church, by a Catholic priest or Bishop between two Catholics is counted a legitimate marriage.
Actually, in the Catholic Church there are many different circumstances that would make it NOT a true marriage, i.e., Protestant and Catholic, Catholic and unbeliever, civil union, etc.
For Catholics the answer is a little easier because Marriage is a Sacrament.
But I can see with Protestants (mainly because there are so many different views amongst Protestants when it comes to marriage), that there can be difficulties and especially with the culture trying to re-define things.
But these are weird times in the United States and Christians, it seems are having to make more and more stands and decisions that they were not faced with before.

Good post

Dave

Christine said...

Actually, in the Catholic Church there are many different circumstances that would make it NOT a true marriage, i.e., Protestant and Catholic, Catholic and unbeliever, civil union, etc.
For Catholics the answer is a little easier because Marriage is a Sacrament.


I hope I may offer a gentle corrective. If a Catholic marries a baptized Protestant the marriage is valid. If two baptized Protestants are married the Catholic Church considers the marriage valid (even if it was in a civil ceremony). The Catholic Church certainly recognizes the graces that two baptized Protestants receive in marriage from their baptism.

My husband, a Catholic, was married to a Protestant in a Catholic rite and received a dispensation from the Bishop to do so because she was not baptized.

After he and I were married he petitioned for an annulment so that we could have our marriage blessed after I became Catholic.

I recognize that some Catholic organizations not in communion with Rome have other arrangements.

Pastor, may the blessings of the Holy Child of Bethlehem be with you, your loved ones and your congregation at this beautiful season of the Incarnation.

318@NICE said...

See, no corrective needed, that's exactly what I'm saying. If the marriage between a Catholic and Protestant were valid marriages, then why would you have to petition for an annulment?
The annulments are given under certain circumstances because the marriage in that situation is not valid automatically.
So, you are trying to correct me, but saying the same thing.
Weird, Oh well,

Dave

Christine said...

If the marriage between a Catholic and Protestant were valid marriages, then why would you have to petition for an annulment?

Dave, two things. If I recall correctly you attend an SSPX chapel. First of all, since Vatican II Deacons are also permitted to witness a Catholic marriage, not only priests or bishops.

Secondly, a baptized Catholic who marries a baptized Protestant in a Catholic rite is certainly considered to be in a valid marriage, but, in my husband's case his former (Protestant) wife filed for a civil divorce. Since the Church does not recognize civil divorce he needed to petition for an annulment of his first marriage in order for us to marry in the Catholic Church.

A relative by marriage who is Catholic recently married a Presbyterian girl. Both her minister and a Catholic priest witnessed the marriage. Should they ever civilly divorce an annulment would be required for a second marriage in the Catholic Church.