Retaining The Towel: The Religious Right Hasn’t Given Up On Same-Sex Marriage Just Yet

Dec 1, 2014

By Rob Boston

Is the Religious Right ready to give up on same-sex marriage? At least one observer thinks so.

Damon Linker, writing in This Week, cites a short article that appeared in the conservative journal First Things recently as evidence of some kind of turning point in how theocratic groups deal with same-sex marriage.

The article in question, by R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things, is titled “A Time To Rend.” It cites a pastors’ pledge circulating on the theocratic fringe that urges clergy to stop performing civil marriages.

Reno writes that the pledge “requires ordained ministers to renounce their long-established role as agents of the state with the legal power to sign marriage certificates.”

The thinking here is that because the government has debased marriage by extending it to same-sex couples, churches should just bow out.

The pledge reads in part, “The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. 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. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage. 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. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage.”


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8 comments on “Retaining The Towel: The Religious Right Hasn’t Given Up On Same-Sex Marriage Just Yet

  • It is funny that Christians picked on homosexuality as the mega sin. Jesus never mentioned it. It comes mainly from Leviticus surrounded by dozens of other capital sins that are all ignored. Then you have hero David with his lover Jonathan.

    The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals, and 362 to heterosexuals. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love heterosexuals, it’s just that they need more supervision.

    ~ Lynn Lavner , a lesbian comic



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  • We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage.

    This is a good thing. Marriage is one of the times people tend to approach the church on bended knee. It gave the church a kick at the can to re-recruit them. This pledge means they are renouncing that recruiting tactic.



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  • I say go ahead! I went to a wedding in France which was high Catholic, but to make it legal the happy couple had to go and do the civic bit at the mayor’s place. This keeps power and authority to the elected bodies while allowing the religious their highly entertaining pantomime. I’m not saying that France is perfect, but secular government, great wines and berets takes some beating.



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  • The article in question, by R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things, is titled “A Time To Rend.” It cites a pastors’ pledge circulating on the theocratic fringe that urges clergy to stop performing civil marriages.

    Reno writes that the pledge “requires ordained ministers to renounce their long-established role as agents of the state with the legal power to sign marriage certificates.”

    Excellent! The civil authorities do record keeping better, while the hotel trade can arrange much better celebratory activities!

    People in progressively larger numbers, can leave the woo-addled to stew in their woo in splendid isolation, while the world moves on!



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  • I too hope their power crumbles, redefining the nature of the simply legal contract.

    “we don’t need a piece of paper from the City Hall, keeping us tried
    and true…”

    The chance of a knees-up amongst the family can be good but could also bring on palpitations; it depends.

    I find it interesting that the institution of marriage retains such appeal and is still considered fit for purpose. The clear value it has for the arrangement of mutual support whilst raising children is no mystery but another function, for many, appears to be that of exclusive possession, sexual and otherwise, of partners and the securing of privacy. This wall of separation is commonly subsidised by states and encouraged as expected behaviour.

    The external coersion of fidelity effectively replaces the healthy balance of continual freedom of choice between equals. If you both want to stay together, you will – if not, then it shouldn’t depend upon tax-breaks, litigation or authority of any description.

    The presumption of marriage as a unique, universally appropriate, lifelong commitment is weird, given the incredible variety of human relationships, our life-expectancies, and how much worse for children unhappy marriages can prove, compared with still-cooperative (even friendly) separations. Subtlety of understanding was never an attribute of dogma.

    A truly equal relationship is by its nature a dynamic one, adjusting to circumstance and dependent upon continual self-evaluation. This we cannot legislate.



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