Monday, November 12, 2007

Should the State Regulate Clergy Ordination?

That's in dispute in Pennsylvania and New York. Two court cases there are addressing the legitimacy of marriages performed by ministers ordained online in a few minutes.

Hat tip: Instapundit

10 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

1. That online wedding thing sounds wacky and distasteful.
2. I'd be actively opposed to state regulation of ordination.

As it is, if I were getting married again, I'd forego getting a state license, as I don't need no state sanction of my marriage.

Stephen said...

Marriage is such a tricky thing because while I offer a Christian Marriage proclaiming a bond before God, there is still the bond that has to be proclaimed before the state.

Two parts of every marriage or wedding: church and state. I for one like the way the do it in Great Britain. A Justice of the Peace makes you married in the eyes of the state, while a Christian ceremony unites you in the eyes of God.

Gord said...

Being of the opinion that the chrch should be right out of the civil marriage business, this is just another example of why.

Let JPs, marriage commissioners, or some other civil functionary take care of the legal part. Then churches can be in the business of merely blessing relationships--regardless of their legal status.

TN Rambler said...

I don't believe that the decision is constitutional. As the writer of the post said, "What part of 'shall make no law' do they not understand"?

Gord makes a good point. Perhaps the church should be in the business of merely blessing marriages that have been legally performed by an agent of the state.

Richard Hall said...

Stephen isn't quite right about the position in Britain. As a minister I am also an "authorised person" for the conduct of marriages so that I can oversee both the religious and legal aspects of the marriage. Some ministers do not take on both roles, and require the presence of a Registrar at an marriage ceremonies they conduct so that the legal side of things is satisfied. (This only applies to Catholic and non-conformist clergy in England and Wales. In Scotland, and in the Anglican churches, different rules apply)

I wouldn't want the state interfering in ordination, but it does seem entirely reasonable for the state to be involved in giving the authority to conduct marriages.

John said...

I haven't given the issue much thought, but the idea of separate religious and civil marriages sounds like a workable solution. As memory serves, it is traditional in France to have the two services back-to-back.

Mitch Lewis said...

I prefer separating the legal and religious aspects of marriage. If we're counting countries in which that is the practice, add South Korea to the list.

I disagree with Dan, however, about the irrelevance of the legal contract. Socially, the marriage contracts should protect the innocent parties (spouses, children) when the other party does not fulfill his/her marital obligations or abuses the family relationships. While we've largely gutted those protections (and marriage along with them), I think the principle is still valid. Dan may remain true to his marital commitments, but not all spouses do. The wounded party should have legal recourse to mitigate the damage done to them and to their children.

Dan Trabue said...

That's a fair point. What I should say then, perhaps, is that I would refuse to get a marriage contract from the state until all my gay brothers and sisters are able to get these same protections.

John said...

Dan, that's a brilliant solution for all bachelors who want to stay that way.

"I really want to marry you, Sweetie, but until our gay brothers and sisters can join us matrimony, we should stand on principle and remain single."

Allen said...

Why would the state even have to perform a ceremony? Just let two people who want to be "married" file their paperwork and enter into a civil contract governed by the laws of the various states. Then if a church/minister/whatever else want's to perform a ceremony/blessing/ritual/whatever they can. Seems like that would be a good way to keep the state out of the church's business and vice versa.

...my two cents, probably worth less.