Before I begin this post I must emphasis that this opinion does not represent the views of the Presbyterian Church in America nor does it represent the views of Trinity Church PCA. I don’t even know for sure it represents by views. I am doing this as a thought experiment to try to disentangle church and state. I would welcome your input to help me come to a more biblical position. Nevertheless, this is the direction I am leaning
I have always been a strong advocate for separation of church and state, but I have been violating my beliefs in one area since I become a pastor. I have been representing the government when I officiated weddings. At the end of the service I would pronounce that I had authority to marry these people given to me by whatever state I was in and then I would officially sign the wedding license as a representative of the state. I have always felt uncomfortable with this but I went along with it because it was traditional. The recent Supreme Court ruling has jolted me into considering this issue again. I am now coming to believe more and more that that I was wrong in participating in weddings in that way.
I am contemplating the following. 1) that the only people that I should marry are two Christians that either are a part of my congregation or that I have a personal relationship with. 2) that I would require them to go get married at the court house by whatever government official has the power the do that for their civil union, 3) that I would then be delighted to lead a worship service in which they took marriage vows before the Lord (a wedding). This later service would have absolutely nothing to do with the government. It would be a spiritual discipline practiced by Christians. Then the government would have less temptation to try and tell me who I can and cannot marry because in no way am I acting as their representative. Also, in no way could I be seen as representing what the government defines as marriage, only what Christ defines as marriage.
This position also has the advantage of alleviating pastor’s from being asked by just anybody off the street to marry them. Pastor’s would no longer be part of the “marriage” industry of our society. They would help Christians worship God through the taking of vows.
I again must emphasis that this opinion does not represent the views of the Presbyterian Church in America nor does it represent the views of Trinity Church PCA. I don’t even know for sure it represents my views. I am doing this as a thought experiment and I would welcome your input.