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My red-line notes on the Radner-Seitz Pledge

November 18, 2014

I think there are too many questionable or problematic assertions in the Radner-Seitz Pledge for me to conveniently respond to them in another essay-style blog post. Instead, my red-noted version is below. …

In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage [not exactly, in almost all cases, “same-sex marriage” has been imposed on states by courts, usually by federal courts] that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely [maybe, maybe not, it is too early to predict] that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.

As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. [ok] This is a perilous time. [yes, like all other times, but, yes] Divorce and co-­habitation have weakened marriage. [yes] We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. [well, maybe some have been too complacent, but others have not been] Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined [no, it is not being redefined, it is being abused, distorted, etc, but marriage is not being redefined by the state because the state has not that competence], and we are ­being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word. [maybe, maybe not, it depends on what action is envisioned. and by the way, we are not obligated to do all goods, though we are obligated to avoid all evil; moreover the truth of God’s Word does not depend on one’s response to it.]

The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. [ok, qualified as above] 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. [ok, our faith is not just biblical, but, ok] To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage. [oh? wait! how? where? says who? this is classic petitio principii! this is the very point to be demonstrated, not simply asserted!]

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. [again, crucial terms not defined, so possible replies are too many] We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. [but are you serving as agents of the state? I argued here you are not] 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. [this is shocking advice: it amounts to saying: we ministers will not cooperate with dirty state marriage by signing forms, but it’s okay for you laity to cooperate with it by signing forms. what sense does that advice make? If it’s so bad for you to do, how can you send your people off to do it?] 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. [I would hope that’s already true] Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name. [one’s signature will accomplish no such goal, even assuming it’s a good goal]. + + +

Update: A chronology of (mostly) my comments on ecclesiastical cooperation with civil marriage.

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