Pastors Now Refusing to Perform Weddings

We’ve seen magistrates in North Carolina quitting to avoid performing same-sex marriages, but now we have pastors refusing to perform straight marriages because they think doing so implicates them in the performance of gay marriages that they are not required to perform.

Now, two prominent Protestant theologians are trying to start a movement of like-minded anti-gay pastors who will refuse to perform weddings that require a state-issued marriage license, because, gay people are getting liecnsed by the state and marrying. They believe that participating in a wedding in which they are agents of the state sullies them by extension, in supporting same-sex marriage.

Pastors Christopher Seitz and Ephraim Radner hope to force different-sex couples to be married twice – once in a religious ceremony they will perform, and once in a civil ceremony, should the couple choose, to obtain a legal state-issued civil marriage license.

Calling it “a perilous time,” Pastors Seitz and Radner are claiming “marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again.” The “yet again” refers to divorce and co-­habitation which they claim “have weakened marriage.”

“If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word,” the pastors believe. “To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.”

So they’ll perform straight weddings, but they won’t sign the marriage certificates, requiring the couple to do a government wedding as well. And you know what? I’m all for it. Ministers should not be allowed to solemnize a government contract in the first place. Every couple should get a government wedding, which shouldn’t require a ceremony but merely a signing of the papers, and then they can do a wedding celebration of whatever kind they choose. The legitimacy of a marriage should never have been established by a religious ritual in the first place.

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  • marcus

    Ed “Every couple should get a government wedding, which shouldn’t require a ceremony but merely a signing of the papers, and then they can do a wedding celebration of whatever kind they choose.”

    This is the law in Colorado, and this what my wife and I did. They even accepted our puppies paw-prints as witnesses (in the presence of of the clerk).

  • Kevin Kehres

    Fine with me. Of course, the more likely course of action will be that couples will choose someone else to officiate at their wedding. And there goes that lovely honorarium.

    The invisible hand of the free market has spoken — and it doesn’t appear to like bigots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159674804 robertbaden

    Don’t Catholics do this anyway?

  • erichoug

    This argument just gets dumber and dumber. A friend of mine presided over some friends wedding last weekend. He got ordained, on-line in about 5 minutes. That was the time it took him to fill out the address and credit card information at the “Church” website.

    Another friend didn’t even bother with a ceremony, they just got the marriage license and got her fathers friend, a judge, to sign it and then they had a big reception.

    So really, who fucking cares if pastors refuse to marry people. It isn’t like they are the key to the whole process or anything.

    These bigoted morons just need to STFU. They only make themselves look worse and expose how pointless, bigoted and petty their “faith” is.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The legitimacy of a marriage should never have been established by a religious ritual in the first place.

    Wrong. That’s backwards. Granted, I’ll do anything to get rid of that damnable marriage licence collar. Or maybe we accidentally went through dog licence line at City Hall. In any event, it’s worse than the time after surgery that the doctor made me wear that conical collar. I couldn’t bite my stitches or anything!

  • Pierce R. Butler

    They warned us that Christian heterosexual marriages were in danger, but did we listen? No…

  • John Pieret

    Pastors Seitz and Radner are claiming “marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are being tested yet again.” The “yet again” refers to divorce and co-habitation

    Uh … so why didn’t they refuse to do the civil part of marriages (which simply involves signing a form) back then, decades ago, when no-fault divorce and “free love” first started?

  • jnorris

    Ed’s idea is excellent. But, I want a judge or magistrate to officiate at the signing to certify there was no coercion and that both parties are competent to get married. Then the couple can have a religious ritual (matrimony) in the shrine of their choice.

  • cptdoom

    Don’t Catholics do this anyway?

    No, Catholic priests, in general, act as agents of the state in weddings in the US, so “by the power vested in me by God and the state of…” is part of the ceremony. The model these pastors are imposing is the norm in most of Europe, however, where the religious ceremony is legally meaningless and all couples are married at town halls, registry offices, etc.

  • Sastra

    Hell, marriage ceremonies are probably one of the only reasons a lot of people even step in to a church — and that includes the bride and groom. Be careful what you wish for, pastors …

  • D. C. Sessions

    The model these pastors are imposing is the norm in most of Europe

    Not to mention much of Latin America. You know, those almost-exclusively Catholic countries?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Yes please. Associate your religions with bigotry.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    John Pieret “Uh … so why didn’t they refuse to do the civil part of marriages (which simply involves signing a form) back then, decades ago, when no-fault divorce and “free love” first started?”

    Because that didn’t involve The Gays. But now they’re awake, and won’t stop until The Gays again can’t get married. Then they’ll stop.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Calling it “a perilous time,” Pastors Seitz and Radner are claiming “marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again.” The “yet again” refers to divorce and co-­habitation which they claim “have weakened marriage.”

    It’s not as if any prominent Protestant Christian leaders have been divorced…

  • eric

    Pastors Christopher Seitz and Ephraim Radner hope to force different-sex couples to be married twice – once in a religious ceremony they will perform, and once in a civil ceremony, should the couple choose, to obtain a legal state-issued civil marriage license.

    Frankly, that’s the way it should be.

  • raven

    Who in the hell cares?

    Anyone can be ordained as a minister, priestess, or Hougan at any number of online web sites*. And then will be every much the supernatural equal to these ministers and more convincing “theologians”. Fundies don’t have theologians. The best they came up with was Eoua Rushdooney, a mass murder wannabe, who wanted to slaughter 99% of the US population

    I’ve been to more Pagan weddings than xians ones anyway. They are far better. (Some couples had two weddings, a church one for the parents and a Pagan one for their friends.)

    *I’ll ordain people as Pagan priests or priestess online for a nominal sum. As soon as I finish writing the Pagan holy books. They are mostly fiction and mythology except where Darwin, Einstein, Jefferson, and Roosevelt show up. Just like the xian bible but much more uplifting and positive.

  • raven

    In my world, avoiding churches is getting to be the norm.

    I’ve been to a few xian funerals. I’ve been to more Pagan funerals. The xian ones are IMO, worse than useless.

    My friend’s very old uber Catholic parents died. They both said in their wills that they were ex-Catholics and didn’t want a Catholic funeral mass. Didn’t bother the kids. Every one is them is…an ex-Catholic.

    I’m doing the same. Being dead, I won’t know or care. But few people I know have any interest in being in a church any more.

  • chilidog99

    Next, they will hold their breaths until they turn blue. That’ll show those gay mafia types that they mean buisness!!!!

  • whheydt

    Re: raven, as regards funerals…

    After my mother died, a Unitarian gathering was held. I thought about what to say (my mother could be…fractious) I flatly rejected the idea of talking about how wonderful she was. Instead, I did a bit of research and talked about various events that happened during (or in the first item, just before) her life starting with the Vin Fizz flying across the US in 37 days (IIRC) and, since she had severe hearing problems, citing the dates for various hearing aid developments (first use fo vacuum tubes, for instance). It went over pretty well. It recapped her life better, I think, than the usual platitudes could have.

  • khms

    In Germany, it was once again Bismarck who made marriage something only the state could perform. For a long time, the law said that you had to be married by the state before you were allowed to be married by the priest.

    They recently changed that law. The state’s marriage is still the only one that counts, but the state no longer cares what the priest does. At a time where many couples live together without benefit of a marriage, who cares if they also have a religious ceremony done? That was only relevant while marriage was still the norm, and people with a church but not a state marriage were most likely confused about the law.

    Inn fact, I’d argue (an argument more relevant to the US than Germany) that the priest signing the license is in conflict with the separation of state and church. Just as priests should not talk politics from the pulpit, they should not have any secular state powers.

  • Moon Jaguar

    Right on, Ed. We need to get to the point where marriage has the same legal standing as baptisim — none whatsoever. Civil union should be all that matters to the law.

  • Nemo

    @Moon Jaguar #21: I agree completely with Ed, but not with you — I’m unwilling to concede the term “marriage” to the religious. Let them be the ones to come up with a new term for what they do, if they feel the need.

  • Donnie

    @Ed:

    very couple should get a government wedding, which shouldn’t require a ceremony but merely a signing of the papers, and then they can do a wedding celebration of whatever kind they choose.

    That is a very french way of looking at it. You get married at the Marie (city hall), and if you choose you do a second wedding at a church (that is not restricted to members). Of course, this means that your girlfriend needs at least 3 hats and three sets of clothes, which is cool because those french hats are fabulously awesome looking!

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    I’ve been advocating this for years. The ceremonies at a church or variation thereof should be just that–ceremonies. The legal union should be performed by the state. Religious couples are free, of course, to consider the ceremony as the one that “counts” and the one that is binding.

    It seems so obvious.

  • hunter

    moon jaguar @21 — I have to agree with Nemo: the word “marriage,” as the Massachusetts high court pointed out in Goodridge, has a cultural weight and significance not adhering to any other term. “Civil unions” isn’t good enough.

  • steve84

    This isn’t just how it’s done in France, but in most of western continental Europe and South America. Napoleon introduced his legal code all over his conquered territories and after the Napoleonic Wars many parts of it were kept in those countries, or they were at least inspired by parts of it.