Question for Pastors about Marriage

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by ralphmnj, Apr 9, 2014.

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  1. ralphmnj

    ralphmnj Puritan Board Freshman

    I've always wondered what various opinions exist out there about performing a wedding where one or both individuals are unbelievers.

    Would any of you conduct a ceremony like this?

    My thoughts are if marriage is a creation ordinance, it wouldn't exclude an unbeliever as long as it is in accordance with the creation decree: man & woman.

    Curious to see what people think.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
  2. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Not a pastor, but these are two completely different issues. A pastor should NEVER participate in the joining of a believer to a non-believer in marriage.

    You may get a broader range of responses as to conducting a marriage of two non-believers - I, at least, have run across pastors with differing views on this. As one pastor told me, the risk is that in the course of witnessing to the couple during the marriage preparation process, one will be called to the Lord, and the other not, at which point the pastor will have to tell them that they can't be married.
  3. ralphmnj

    ralphmnj Puritan Board Freshman

    If marriage is an institution of God between human beings (male & female) and not only the elect, how should nonbelievers get married? Through a civil ceremony alone? I'm interested in hearing some other thoughts on this as well. I don't stand firm on my comments above, I'm just trying to explore and understand some of the arguments for both sides (if indeed there are even sides) haha

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
  4. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes. I do marry non-xns. And the last couple that came to see me one claimed to be a believer, and the other did not. After a half hour or so it was clear that neither one of them understood the gospel and so I said I would marry them. In that case my conscience is clear, because the proffessed believer had no clear testamony. Thus I would be marrying two non-xns.
  5. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I personally would not marry a couple unless they were members of my church, and if members of my church are not believers, then I have a bigger problem to deal with.
  6. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    In response to your question I would say: First, It would be sinful for a minister to join a believer and unbeliever together in marriage. Secondly, it is perfectly appropriate for the civil magistrate to perform weddings and that is where I would encourage unbelievers to be married. I view performing marriages as a pastoral function for those within my church. I have no interest in being a "clerical prop" in the wedding of two people who care nothing for God or his Word, and who afterwords will return to living like the perfect atheists that they are.
  7. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    I wonder, with the state re-defining marriage so grotesquely and offensively, should we register our marriages with the state at all? Should we join that pool? Or should we just marry in our church, publicly with our pastor, and leave it at that, married in truth but not participating in the state debauchery?

    I don't think it's a SIN to register your marriage to the state, for any pragmatic purpose. But I am starting to think that at this point, it is not required by God that we do this. Thoughts?
  8. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Our bylaws prohibit me from marrying non-members. If one of my members insisted on marrying a professed unbeliever, they wouldn't be a member of our church for long.
  9. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Seeing as marriage is a natural institution and doesn't demand a spiritual principle for creating the union (although the point will be lost on both), the performance of their marriage is not a sin. Though, it's a bit thorny when a pastor is performing the ceremony, as attested by our varied thoughts here.
  10. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    I tend to believe that marriage belongs more specifically to the state's sphere of responsibility (as unfortunate as that is in our present situation). That does not mean that the state has the right to define marriage in whatever twisted way it sees fit, but that the responsibility for administrating the institution within a society is the province of the civil magistrate. The fact that the Church's doctrine of marriage has implications for those within its pale does not negate that fact.

    I think it is important for Christians participate in the civil system to whatever degree they can in good conscience. A Christian couple seeking a marriage license from the state is not an endorsement of or participation in the governments policies concerning homosexuals seeking the same license. Any more than paying taxes is an endorsement of what the government does with the money. In this way, seeking a marriage license from the state is akin, in principle, to "rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." Especially in light of tax implications that come with being a married couple.

    That's just my humble opinion. I'm certainly open to being challenged on this point.
  11. ralphmnj

    ralphmnj Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for all the insights!

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
  12. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Just curious, Rev. Rogers -- did you tell the false professor that (s)he was lost? Not attacking your decision; just trying to play the scenario out in my head, and figured I'd ask you directly. Thanks.
  13. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Not a pastor here. The WCF is clear that the institution of marriage is for the believer and non-believer alike. A number of churches in our community have agreed to conduct wedding ceremonies only if the participants agree to extensive pre-marital mentoring.
  14. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    I shared the gospel with both of them. I fairly often get asked to meet with non-xns that have marital/ relationship problems. And I have a fairly practiced gospel presentation based on our fallen condition and how it effects relationships with others and with God.

    People that are struggling are aware that life is not perfect and are open to this message.
  15. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Interesting to me that it is (largely) the baptists on the board that have no marriage of non-xn policies.

    As a moderate establishmentarian I believe that ministers have a valid civil function. So I gladly do weddings and funerals for non-xns. Not only because it is a great missional opportunity, but I also consider it a civic duty.
  16. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Rev. Rogers, thanks for your response. That was helpful.

    In your next post (#15) you made a good observation re: baptists. Not at all slinging mud at my brethren, but it raises the point in my mind that LBCF 25.3 speaks to this, echoing our sister's reference to WCF in post 13:

    Paragraph 3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent;5 yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord;6 and therefore such as profess the true religion, should not marry with infidels, or idolaters; neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresy.7
    5 Heb. 13:4; 1 Tim. 4:3
    6 1 Cor. 7:39
    7 Neh. 13:25-27
  17. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    I guess my question is, would it be a sin for two Christians to marry only with clergy and not register it with the state at this point?
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