(BNG) Kyle Henderson–Pastors, stop signing those marriage licenses

Pastors should stop signing state-issued marriage licenses. They should stop immediately. Individuals and organizations whose agenda is murky at best are hijacking the marriage debate. We have stopped asking the right questions and started reacting to the debate swirling around us.

On the one hand are people who want to radically redefine marriage in the eyes of the state. They are advocating for open and equal access to the benefits given by the state to married individuals. They want tax benefits, inheritance rights and parental privileges that are automatically given to people who marry.

To this group, pastors and churches need to have a simple and clear answer: “Blessings on you. I don’t need to get a benefit from the government that you cannot get. My contracts should not be better than your contracts. Your kids should be as protected as my kids.”

The only way I can with good conscience say this is if I am no longer part of the civil process. No functionary of any religion ought to be able to finalize a marriage contract individuals are making with the state. It is an abhorrent intermingling of church and state. Until the state sees this clearly and changes its rules, we should abandon the system voluntarily.

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7 comments on “(BNG) Kyle Henderson–Pastors, stop signing those marriage licenses

  1. CSeitz-ACI says:

    For those note wanting to be inconvenienced re: prioritizing the Christian marriage, note:

    Couples should get married according the tenets of their beliefs and then merely register their relationship with the state. In Texas, this system already exists; it is called “Declaration of Marriage.” Many other states have similar paths. We just need to direct people toward them. In some states people will need a state official to perform the ceremony. This is a small price to pay for us to regain our footing in regard to the “marriage debate.”

    The “state official” role I would not call a “ceremony” but something like a getting a license plate.

  2. David Keller says:

    In my state, South Carolina, a notary can sign the certificate, so presumably, if a priest or deacon wanted to do the Christian ceremony only, anyone with a notary public commission who was present could sign the license.

  3. Jim the Puritan says:

    In my state it is illegal for ministers to conduct marriages without being licensed by the state.



    The minister acts as the agent of the state.

  4. CSeitz-ACI says:

    Case notes in Hawaii seem to acknowledge marriage happens without said license. But saying that, I am happily not a citizen of Hawaii. If #3’s interpretation is correct, it would mean that in Hawaii there is no such thing as marriage except civil marriage (license procured from the health department no less).

  5. Jim the Puritan says:

    As a state whose system descends from the “Puritan” view of marriage (e.g., the influence of New England missionaries in the early 1800s who Christianized Hawaii–yes we were a Christian nation before we became part of the U.S.), marriage is a civil matter, not religious.

    Right now, there is tolerance towards a minister who does not want to do a same-sex “marriage.” But theoretically that could be changed. The original form of the same-sex marriage bills would only have granted an exemption if (1) marriages conducted by the church/minister were only between members of the congregation; and (2) the church or other religious institution could not be “open to the public.” (In other words, it had to be a members only organization, which meant that it could not advertise for attendance at services/Christmas, etc.) In the case of #2, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission took the position that allowing the public to attend would make the church a “public accommodation,” and that it would then have to do same-sex marriages.

    The Legislature was talked out of this narrow exemption by Mainland gay rights experts, because they were concerned about that possibly triggering a successful constitutional challenge for violation of the First Amendment. But theoretically, the Legislature could try to so narrow the exemption again.

  6. CSeitz-ACI says:

    I’ll have to take your word for that, re: Puritan Hawaii.
    Typically, marriages were conducted by clergy and the marriages recorded as such civilly (in the 19th century). Clergy could do that because they were acknowledging a marriage taking place by virtue of two people vowing appropriately. They solemnized this.

  7. Jim the Puritan says:

    The Puritan influence was strong in Hawaii at the time its laws and institutions were being developed, because of the New England missionaries who first began arriving in 1820. For example, Hawaii did not officially celebrate Christmas until the 1860s. That was in part because Kamehameha IV and his part-British wife, Queen Emma, were Anglophiles and had invited the Church of England to the Kingdom. There was a lot of friction between the Anglicans and Congregationalists in Hawaii, especially since the Anglican priests and bishop in Hawaii were very high church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Hawaii And it carried over into politics, with the Anglicans supporting the monarchy and the Congregationalists supporting annexation to the United States.

    Anglicanism recognizes marriage as a sacrament, unlike the Congregationalists who as Calvinists believed it was a civil contract. But the Congregationalists wrote the laws in Hawaii.