Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Culture news: Time for pastors to get out of the government marriage business?

As the government "redefines" marriage to include two people of the same sex, R.R. Reno argues that it is time for the Church to get out of what has become the government marriage business.  He writes:
It’s time to make a clear distinction between the government-enforced legal regime of marriage and the biblical covenant of marriage. In the past, the state recognized marriage, giving it legal forms to reinforce its historic norms. Now the courts have redefined rather than recognized marriage, making it an institution entirely under the state’s control. That’s why it’s now time to stop speaking of civil marriage and instead talk about government marriage—calling it what it is.

As the legal reality of marriage changes, we must also act. If the churches continue as if nothing has changed, the message is that for all our strong words nothing really decisive is at stake. It’s now time, then, to think long and hard about what we need to do—or refuse to do.

I can’t see how a priest or pastor can in good conscience sign a marriage license for “Spouse A” and “Spouse B.” Perhaps he should strike those absurdities and write “Husband” and “Wife.” Failing that he should simply refuse the government’s delegation of legal power, referring the couple to the courthouse after the wedding for the state to confect in its bureaucratic way the amorphous and ill-defined civil union that our regime continues to call “marriage.”
Those who hold to the biblical view of marriage often speak about the possibility of being forced to officiate at same sex marriages.  But Reno raises a very good question when he asks whether pastors should be involved in any way with the marriage of an entity that defies God's ordering of creation.  Perhaps it is not time yet, and we still need to see what will happen on the issue.  However, it is a question we need to take seriously.

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