NOT REQUIRED OF CHURCHES by Rick Brand
Now may be a good time to remind ourselves about the two parts to every marriage ceremony. In this country (it is not true in other countries) the “traditional” church wedding was a mixture of state and religion. The minister acted on behalf of the state and united the couple in a legal contract. The minister also acted on behalf of the religious group and gave a blessing and invited a promise from the couple to live together in love.
The Supreme Court has appropriately ruled that homosexuals are entitled to enter into the legal contract and to receive all of the rights, duties and responsibilities of the legal contract. They may now file joint income taxes. They are responsible for each other’s bills. They can get health insurance from companies that cover “families.” They are now permitted to be recognized as a unit. Hospitals will let one partner visit the other in ICU, and other such privileges.
The Court did not say anywhere that the homosexual couple were entitled to any religious ceremony. There is no requirement for any religious group to hold a wedding for a same sex couple if they do not want to bless that union. Ministers have always had the authority to refuse to do weddings of couple they do not think should be married. Ministers have refused to marry divorced people. Whether or not a religious group wants to have same sex marriages as part of its witness to the God they serve, is entirely up to the minister or the governing body.
The Court says that all citizens are entitled to join in love with others and receive the same protection, the same benefits, the same burdens as other couples. That is the state, the legal part. Religious assemblies are still free to decided whether or not to bless that union. The magistrate should not have that privilege as they are servants of the state part of the ceremony.