If you have never visited the site PATHEOS, I highly recommend it. Their subtitle is “Hosting the conversation on faith”, and that’s pretty much what they do. They have an extensive family section called For Life and Family Faith and the Future of Social Conservatism where I have actually found, on occasion, reasoned articles that are testostrosphere friendly and with a socon basis, proving them not to be completely mutually exclusive.
Today I read a solid article called Why Churches Should Stop Performing Marriages (The sooner the church stops partnering with the state in civil marriages, the sooner it can start rebuilding the truly biblical vision for the union of husband and wife.)
I’m glad I found it before Dalrock. He would do a better job of commenting on it, but I wanted to have my shot…and have it I shall.
The gay marriage issue has been helpful to the Christian MRM, as it has afforded a perfectly obvious pair of things to compare and magnify the failure of the church on marriage and divorce. Afraid he may be just teasing with his subtitle, I was doubly pleased when Thomas Kidd, the author, starts off spot on:
The institution of marriage has been in trouble for a long time, and the greatest threat it faces is not gay marriage. It is the careless attitude with which marriage is regarded by modern westerners. For many, marriage is merely a matter of personal convenience, susceptible to termination for just about any reason, including a simple waning of interest in your spouse. Making binding promises before God has nothing to do with it.
I don’t know about you, but just reading that declaration from him made me feel good. This is not some obscure blogger (like me) making this statement. The only thing lacking is that he is not a pastor. We know pastors don’t have enough game to tell these truths, and that marriage has been redefined, recast, reframed (see these Dalrock posts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in the absence of churches that would give voice to the writers concerns.
The writer doesn’t spend a lot of time rehashing the problem, rather he moves straight to his proposed solution.
Pastors should consider no longer performing the civil ceremonies of weddings; instead, they could explain to prospective brides and grooms that if they want a state marriage certificate, then they should go see the judge. But if they also want a biblical marriage—let’s use the old-fashioned term matrimony, to distinguish it from our nearly meaningless legal concept of “marriage”—then the church can help them. In other words, if a couple is actually prepared to observe the high commitment required by biblical matrimony, then they can have a wedding at the church.
That’s all fine and good, but intentions have shown to be woefully inadequate in the church with regard to preserving marriages. While there is a veritable army of outside help ostensibly geared towards saving marriages, they tend to play right into the evangelical feminist narrative, that being the best medicine is fix the man fix the marriage because after all its women who really care. From Divorce Care (which is a stepped program, mentioning reconciliation at one of the later sections in its course) to the plethora of books and counselors who all parrot a failing interpretation of both relational dynamics and the scripture that sets forth Gods order for same. Only one program, Marriage Savers, seems to hit divorce head on and have a demonstrable impact wherever it is tried.
The writer though doesn’t leave us to rhetoric and strong admonition. He puts a framework for action, easily customized and applicable in any church.
Among the normal requirements for matrimony, as assessed by churches in pre-matrimonial counseling, would be 1) a sincere commitment to Christ by the prospective spouses, 2) no pre-existing patterns of sin, including premarital sex, infidelity, and/or abuse, and 3) an understanding that seeking illegitimate divorce would result in shame before fellow believers, and possibly church discipline. Because the church would no longer be acting as an extension of the state, churches under this system could easily justify the refusal of all kinds of non-biblical marriages, including gay unions.
The writer is cynical enough to foretell an obvious side effect.
Churches would not lose anything by taking this approach to marriage, except perhaps some disgruntled folks who have to go elsewhere to get their marriage certificates
In this case his cynicism is healthy, and well earned. He also knows that to not speak and act plainly on this will see the societal and familial decay of the last four decades continue unabated, and the social pathologies resulting from all the divorce and its affect on kids will drain church and state resources to the breaking point. Maybe it already has.
Rampant divorce is especially harmful to the psychological and economic standing of children.
He concludes by rightly observing that the government is not about to do anything constructive about marriage and divorce, and that the value of a church wedding under today’s norms is no different, with both….
…treating marriage like a Las Vegas wedding chapel does: no distinctions made, no questions asked, just pay up and kiss the bride.
It is really about numbers if we wish to add pragmatism to the mix. The impact of gay marriage is miniscule when compared to the impact of today’s marriage process, church or no church. As the writer ends his piece:
Fighting to exclude gays and lesbians from this largely meaningless arrangement is a paltry diversion. The church would be better served to stop performing civil marriages for the state and fight for a truly sacred cause: renewing the biblical meaning of matrimony within the church.
Lets get some perspective people, and stop being afraid of the women in the church, who, if you’ve ever entered a debate with Christians about divorce, are the biggest proponents OF divorce. In fact, the passion with which Christian women defend no fault frivolous divorce is far greater than any issues Christian women have with gay marriage. Indeed after reading this thread at Christian forums, its easy to see most Christian women and some Christian men have no issue whatsoever with gay marriage.