by Christine Rousselle Article
The Reverends Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz have published in First Things what they've dubbed the "Marriage Pledge." The pledge would effectively separate civil marriage from the religious ceremony—signers of the pledge would refuse to sign marriage certificates, for instance. The pledge has been signed by more than 100 members of the clergy, as well as laypersons in support of the pledge and came about due to fears of pastors being forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word.
The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.
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.
This seems like a good happy medium in the debate over religious freedom, and the folks at Reason agree, arguing that libertarians should embrace the "marriage pledge" idea as it removes government from something that should be a private matter.
Some may view this as a last ditch attempt to oppose the tide of history, but libertarians ought to welcome it as a step toward the removal of government from private relationships.
Marriage, after all, is in essence a private contract between two individuals, and there is no reason why the government ought to be able to determine who is eligible to enter into that contract and who is not. Government involvement in marriage is a relatively recent phenomenon.
I agree with this logic, and I support the reasoning behind the marriage pledge idea. Religious figures should not be forced by government to perform things they disagree with or find to be sacrilegious. If a pastor removes himself from everycivil aspect of all marriages, he cannot be forced to officiate a same-sex marriage he finds to be sacrilegious. This seems like an easy solution.