Once again, a story has surfaced on Facebook that was largely based on inaccuracies when it first came to print. It’s the story about pastors in one Idaho town being threatened with jail time and fines if they refuse to perform gay marriages. Given the temperature of the atmosphere surrounding this controversial issue, misrepresentations can result on either side of it.
But the premise is not one to be discounted. There may come a time when it is true. I have some thoughts, as a ordained minister of the gospel, on the matter.
First, as a minister, I am under no obligation whatsoever to perform any weddings at all. There is no law–biblical, civil, or constitutional–that requires ministers to perform weddings. Officiating weddings is simply recognized as a function that ministers are authorized and privileged to perform. I have often declined to officiate weddings for various reasons, and the couples were understanding and found someone else to do the ceremony. Officiating over weddings is strictly at the minister’s discretion.
Second, from a constitutional perspective, how does one’s right to have a wedding ceremony trump my right of refusal based on deeply held biblical convictions? The other side would most likely scoff at my use of “convictions” as a smokescreen for bigotry, homophobia, or intolerance of other viewpoints. But I could use the same argument that their convictions are merely shielding their intolerance. The truth is, I do recognize those who hold a different view than me have convictions. I may disagree, but I will not attempt to force them to act in ways that violate those convictions. All I ask is that they simply do the same for me.
Finally, concerning marriage itself–At its heart, marriage was given by God ultimately as a picture of his loving relationship to his people. The union of Adam and Eve, blessed and instituted by God, and his subsequent command to them to multiply and fill the earth, was to remind future generations of to whom they owe their existence and worship. God uses the picture of husband and wife to describe his relationship to Israel in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the marriage relationship is used to emphasize Jesus as the Bridegroom of the church.
Every marriage is actually a declaration of the gospel. Jesus laid down his life selflessly and sacrificially for all to have the opportunity to be joined to him. The husband and the wife are mutually submitting to and selflessly giving themselves for one another. This is what love is, seen perfectly in Jesus and acted out in the wedding ceremony. Husband and wife are different, yet complementary to one another. This is what makes a marriage. With same sex unions the analogy breaks down completely and the gospel is disfigured.
And that’s all I have to say about that.