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Don’t Protest Marriage

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

ringsThe recent, and expected, decision by the California supreme court to uphold proposition 8 has intensified the gay marriage debate over the last few days. Scenes are reminiscent of civil-rights era protests, and just like in those days, pastors are joining in.

Not far from where I live, Rev. Art Cribbs has announced that “he will not perform any more wedding ceremonies in California until the state’s same-sex marriage ban is overturned.” The article goes on to say that Rev. Art believes prop 8 crosses a boundary between church and state. [source]

Pasadena Star News has a more in depth story with an extensive comment thread here.

Let me begin by saying this protest is ridiculous. But, sadly it is not unique. Fox News (I know, I know…and I apologize in advance but I couldn’t find anyone else covering this story, and they have a video segment) interviews Rev. Susan Parker in Winston-Salem NC on her refusal to sign marriage licenses until same-sex marriage is legal in her state. [source]

Her protest waffles a bit though: She will still “bless” marriages, but she will send the happy couple to the courthouse to have the license signed. There are plenty more examples of similar protests and I encourage you to add relevant links in the comments.

Back to the insanity…

Pastors: Why will you withhold a grace from your parishioners because something the state is doing? You are only punishing the people in your flock. Your impact will be very limited in society at large, but the impact will be profound on your local church community.

I thought protests were supposed to be active? If you believe gay-marriage is valid, then a more effective protest would be to start performing gay-marriages within the church – in mind of the state’s disapproval. That’s a real protest.

The secular world doesn’t understand marriage anyway (even between a man and a woman), maybe they never will. You are basically saying “I will refuse to administer the sacraments of the church until those outside the church understand them the way I do.” Or worse yet: “I will withhold grace to an even greater degree than it is already being withheld until x,y, or z goal of social justice is met.” You are only adding to the confusion and misunderstanding of marriage in our day.

This protest only emphasizes the legal aspect of marriage and steals from the sacramental/covenant aspect of marriage. You will not perform marriages until contract law is more fair? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Imagine if pastors refused to perform baptisms until drinking fountains are installed at the local park. Or if they refused to celebrate Eucharist until wheat farmers earned a better wage. This is just as ridiculous. The church ought to celebrate God’s graces despite all the injustices in the world.

You can’t let politics thwart the Church’s actions in the world. Render unto Caesar whats Caesars, but render unto God what is God’s.

Do not profane the sacraments of the church for the sake of the state.