Marriage Ceremonies for Non Christians.

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Ben W, Jun 18, 2003.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W
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    O.k here is the scenario,

    You pastor a church in a growing area. A couple come to you that wish to be married. They presently live together and have a child.

    They want to know if you will marry them in your church.

    They are not openly Christian, and are not ready to make a commitment to the Lord.

    Would you perform a ceremony of marriage for them?
     
  2. Rev. Joshua

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    Certainly. Been there, done that. My role in the wedding is to recognize that the couple has made what my tradition considers a binding marital commitment. The information I provide the couple makes it clear that it must be a religious service (as opposed to a civil one) for me to officiate. I do not, however, require a profession of faith.

    In urban, liberal ministry I encounter a lot of folks who have been wounded by the Church. Refusing to do their wedding would be one more indicator that the Church has no use for them and vis versa.

    Joshua

    [ June 19, 2003, 10:12 AM: Message edited by: Rev. Joshua ]
     
  3. Deacon

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    Interesting twist on a pastors role in the marrage ceramony, Brother Joshua.

    God recognises the marrages of the unsaved too. You are being the best witness under the circumstances. Wouldn't it be a kick if they accepted Christ together because of the witness you provided during the wedding.

    Rob
     
  4. Bible-boy

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    I would first ask them, "Since you are not professing Christians and do not desire to become Christians (at present), why do feel the need for a Christian marriage in a church?" You see it makes no sense. They are expressing that they believe that they have no need for the Lord and His church. Therefore, why this "need" to be married in a church by a pastor?

    I would attempt to witness to them regarding their being lost and in desperate need of the Savior. If they would accept Christ I would agree to marry them following some pretty serious pre-marital counseling and their agreeing to abstain from sexual relations (even to the point of sleeping in different rooms) until they were married. I would not ask them to separate due to the fact that they have a child or children in their home.

    If they refuse to hear the gospel, repent of their sins, and profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior then I would explain my position as a minister of the gospel and the biblical meaning of Christian marriage.

    By requesting a marriage within the church that is officiated by a pastor they are asking that pastor and that church to affirm and exercise biblical authority over their marriage. However, by not being Christians and members of that congregation they are expressing their unwillingness to place themselves under the biblical authority of that church and that pastor. Therefore, if it were me I would have to decline to conduct the wedding. The Justice of the Peace can exercise civil authority over them (which he already has by default due to their being citizens) and marry them.

    [ June 19, 2003, 08:15 AM: Message edited by: BibleboyII ]
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    How do you marry someone in the sight of and under the authority of a God they don't believe in and are not under the authority of? It seems a contradiction to use Christian marriage to create a Christian home when you have two people who have no desire to do that.

    I would certainly meet with them for premarital counseling and first on teh list of premarital sessions is spiritual testimony and spiritual life. The is the best time for the witness of Christ as Lord and Savior to be made known.
     
  6. Jamal5000

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    Ben W, Joshua, Deacon, BibleboyII, Pastor Larry, and others,

    I cannot even begin to show my appreciation for your comments. My community is filled with cohabiting unsaved couples with out-of-wedlock children; therefore, this topic would directly help me.

    I have one question: Could you please tell me where the Bible outlines a pastors authority to marry unsaved people?

    I'm not quite sure where to find it.

    Thanks, everyone. Great comments! [​IMG]

    In Christ,
    J5Grand
     
  7. Bob Farnaby

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    Actually, I don't think there are any scriptural instances where authority is given for pastors to conduct any marrages.

    The fact that they do is an execise of a civil authority given by the government of the land. Many christians like a religious ceromony as a witness to their commitment to each other before God, but the civil legalities are what confirm the marrage.

    In Australia a person who is an ordained minister/pastor of a recognised church is given the civil authourity almost as a matter of course, presume something similar n other places.

    Having said that, a church pastor can marry two christians, no problem. He should never marry a christian to a non-christian. As for marrying two non-christians, as long as he is not making any promises or misleading people as to their eternal state, why not? He is perfoming a service to the community, and providing a christian witness to those who have shown some interest in the church. BUT it must not include promises to God that the partcipants do not mean.

    Similar principle applies to funerals/burials that non christians ask pastors/chrches to carry out.

    Regards
    Bob
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    Bob is right. Performing a marriage is not a task given by Scripture, but rather one allowed by the government. It is the government who "solemnizes" marriages. In some countries (such as Brazil I believe), a couple must be married by a state official. In Christian circles, the state ceremony takes place and then the church ceremony takes place after that.
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    No command to marry anyone. No prohibition, either. (Saved and unsaved would be problematic for me).

    I do 50+ weddings a year and perhaps 3 or 4 are of two christians. I am ministering to society and offering a cup of cold water (as it were) in the name of Jesus.

    I don't MAKE them into Christians, but remind them of what a Christian truly is and the seriousness of the vows they are taking before a holy God.

    Have a wedding at 4 pm Saturday at the Methodist Church. Probably NO ONE there will be saved from what I can ascertain. But unlike going into a bar or brothel to preach - which could compromise my reputation - I can openly proclaim the Savior at a wedding.
     
  10. Hardsheller

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    Dr. Bob,

    I concur. Over 23 years ago, my first wedding was in a small cabin in the backwoods of Wisconsin. I witnessed to the unsaved couple, shared my testimony and then joined them together in marriage as a licensed representative of the state. (in Wisconsin at that time it was cheaper for a Preacher to be registered and licensed at the courthouse to perform marriages than it was to register your dog)
     
  11. Squire Robertsson

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    As someone who is not a pastor (senior or otherwise) but who is fully reverendized, I also view the situation as a opportunity to bring the truths of Scripture to bear on a couple who would not be otherwise open to them.

    Again solemnization of a marriage is not a Scriptural duty, it is however a pregrogative given to me by society. I quite understand Jamal's situation.
     
  12. Haruo

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    Marriage (among the laity anyhow) was not made a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church, as I understand it, until the 1100s. In earlier centuries only clergymen's marriages (and royalty/nobility's, perhaps) were required to be solemnized by the Church. Even in the twentieth century, at least prior to Vatican II, the sacrament of Marriage was held to be consecrated by and among the partners, with the clergy playing only a subsidiary (and not an indispensable) role. I've been reading (as a guidebook to the new Canada ;) ) Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by John Boswell and I think most people interested in heterosexual marriage and its history in Christian thought and praxis would get a lot of food for thought from it.

    Luther demoted marriage from sacramental status on the grounds that non-Christians marry validly. Whether he saw the contract as a function of the state or of the couple and/or their families deponent knoweth not.

    Given our Baptist antipathy to state intervention in religious thought and practice, it surprises me that so few Baptist ministers make any effort to destainedglassfenestrate weddings from their churches.

    Haruo
    who married a couple once, though he's a layman
     
  13. Jim1999

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    My wife and I were married without the benefit of a civic licence. Our banns were published on three successive Sundays with one of us in attendance. No licence is required. It remains a legal marriage in the UK and in Canada, which do not have separation of church and state.

    I believe there exists both church and state marriages, and both are valid in their respective spheres. The unsaved ought to be married in a civic ceremony and not in the church. Likewise for those unequally yoked.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  14. Haruo

    Haruo
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    BTW the first time I was married, it was at home, but we had three clergy: an English-speaking Christian minister (Disciples of Christ), an Esperanto-speaking Universal Life Church minister, and a Hindi-speaking pandit. Between the three of them they could only get the marriage to last about 4 years.

    August 10th I'll be married for the second time, assuming the crick don't rise in the interim, and this time it'll be in church with just one Baptist cleric officiating. There's still be a multiplicity of tongues, including at least Esperanto and Japanese, and possibly Russian or something else, in addition to English.

    Haruo
    bit of a curiosity that fellow ;)

    PS: My bride will be female. I am male. Just to set the record straight...
     
  15. Rev. G

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    BibleBoy II

    Ditto.
     
  16. Bible-boy

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    Great minds think alike! :D
     
  17. GODzThunder

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    One must think of why marriages can be legally binding without the use of Chruch today, and why Christians as a whole do not aruge this to become a law. The reason is that God commissioned marriage to all men in Genesis (he did not say Israel or believers he spoke in terms of ALL MEN). thus: Marriage is for everyone and all marriages are blessed by God in the start.

    Now, with that commercial said and done:

    If a non-believer asks to be married by me in our Church I have a few guidelines. First off, I believe most marriages that fail within the first three years is partly because the couple was not prepared to know what to expect (such as, he will NEVER change no matter how much you try, or you may never win an argument when her mother is involved). For this I demand that couples wanting me to marry them off must go through three months of weekly pre-marital counseling. If they are lost or unchurched I take every advantage to witness to them and bring Jesus into their lives. On FAITH, I hope the Spirit leads them to salvation before the three months and they will not be married as unbelievers. IF NOT, then I still preform the cerimony as I committed (you just cannot cancel after three months on grounds that you do not feel they are saved), and pray that a seed at least has been planted for future witness.
     

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