Time for Clergy to Boycott the Courthouse?

So, some conservative Catholics who I generally respect are advocating pastors no longer act as agents of the state in signing marriage licenses.  Why?  The state they say has so re-defined marriage out of biblical norms that performing marriages would bear an unclear witness to biblical truth.

This is a misguided over-reaction to a real cultural shift occurring.

I am not tainted or being unclear in my testimony to Christ to marry a man and woman and sign a marriage license as a state witness.  If I am forced to not "discriminate" and to marry a same-sex couple, I AM marring my witness.

Marriage does not belong to the church, as Rome believes.  Neither does it "belong" to the state, as most evangelicals seem to think.  Then again, this doesn't mean the church and state are mere agents at a requested wedding.  Both church and state can and should refuse to marry (or divorce), if either is applied for on unbiblical grounds.

There is GREAT confusion on this point, judging by comments I read on Facebook.  "The state should never have been involved in marriage in the first place."  Wrong!  That's an easy out taking the libertarian road.  (Hint: we don't want to be fully libertarian, which would mean the state being neutral on or fine with abortion and other moral wrongs.)

The state must be involved in marriage for legal and property reasons.  There is no need for two separate ceremonies, unless the church's criteria and the state's criteria are contradictory.  Even with a total cultural win for same-sex marriage (which we don't quite have yet), those criteria are not contradictory.  They just aren't the same, anymore.  There may come a day when the state will require all those authorized to perform marriages as its agent not to discriminate and perform a same-sex marriage if requested.  THEN I will stop acting as an agent of the state in performing marriages.

This marriage pledge sets too high a bar of purity to be engaged with the state.  It's another indicator that the church is not coping well with moving into cultural exile in the West - a time more like the first century church than the 17th century.

Gene Veith has a decent and short response, here.

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