Why are pastors being asked to sign The Marriage Pledge?
Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
A while back when our family was in the Homeschool Movement, we attended conferences by Michael Pearl, yes, that very same one. He very proudly boasted that his daughters had Christian marriages and did not have state licenses. I remember thinking a bit about that and wondering how that would affect life for them with employment, medical insurance, if there was a death, that kind of thing. Here is something I found written by Pearl in 2004:
None of my daughters or their husbands asked the state of Tennessee for permission to marry. They did not yoke themselves to government. It was a personal, private covenant, binding them together forever—until death. So when the sodomites have come to share in the state marriage licenses, which will eventually be the law, James and Shoshanna will not be in league with those perverts. And, while I am on the subject, there will come a time when faithful Christians will either revoke their state marriage licenses and establish an exclusively one man-one woman covenant of marriage, or, they will forfeit the sanctity of their covenant by being unequally yoked together with perverts. The sooner there is such a movement, the sooner we will have a voice in government. Some of you attorneys and statesmen reading this should get together and come up with an approach that will have credibility and help to impact the political process. Please contact me when you do and I will assist with publicity.
Pearl’s quote brings me to a similar message I read at First Things. First Things is promoting The Marriage Pledge and in their article, they have a similar message regarding mixing Christian marriage with government marriage: “To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.”
Here is more from the The Marriage Pledge website:
In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.
Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.
As of this writing, 351 pastors have signed The Marriage Pledge saying they will no longer sign government marriage licenses, but will only participate in what they deem as “Christian” marriages. It’s pretty clear from the wording that these pastors want to distance themselves from anything that resembles state-sanctioned marriages, including same-sex marriages.
Doug Wilson, wrote about this pledge in his article, In Which First Things Does Some Fourth Things, and stated something that I was concerned about, but not in the same way Wilson was:
In short, church weddings detached from the civil sphere are worthless unless the church is being given the contracted legal authority to adjudicate the divorce — property, custody, the works. Anything less than that is a sham and a farce.
You can see very quickly what Wilson’s concern is: control over the marriage.
We deal with abuse in church and church organizations here at Spiritual Sounding Board. The first thought I had was, what happens when there is abuse?
Who gets to decide these cases if no civil license is obtained?
What do you think about this Marriage Pledge?
Do you see any concerns not addressed?
It seems like there are a lot of holes in this idea.
- A Legal Perspective on the Marriage Pledge
- Andrew Sandlin – Why You Should Not Sign “The Marriage Pledge”
- A smorgasbord of links at this article: Marriage Pledge Link Pile
- The Calvinist International – SEPARATION ANXIETY: REVIEWING THE RADNER-SEITZ MARRIAGE PLEDGE