This post is the fifth in a series that encourages all Christians to think about how they would answer questions pertinent to the Christian faith if asked. In this series, I will post questions from an actual pastoral candidate questionnaire that I received from a Southern Baptist Church and give my answers. I hope that you’ll join in the discussion by posting answers of your own in the comment section. Here’s the fifth question and answer of the series:
Would you perform either a “same sex” marriage or a “civil union”? (Note: The particular church that authored this questionnaire is in Arizona)
Appropriately, the phrase “same sex” in quotation marks above. A “same sex” marriage is a logical impossibility on the same level of a “square circle” or a “married bachelor.” There is simply no such thing as a “same sex” marriage. Therefore, it is impossible for a pastor to perform a “same sex” wedding. God ordained marriage to be the union of one man and one woman. It is my understanding that Article 30 of the Arizona Constitution recognizes the institution of marriage as God ordained it. Of course, state recognition has no bearing on the authority of scripture. So my answer to the question, “Would you perform a “same sex” marriage,” is an unequivocal, “No.”
As I understand it, State Law does not currently allow for civil unions, though some cities (as close to the church as Sedona) have legalized them. Although I do not know the specificities of the local laws, I think it is reasonable to conclude that a civil magistrate, not a Christian pastor, would be expected to perform a civil union. Being unfamiliar with the local Arizona ordinances regarding civil unions, I cannot speak to their economic benefits. I could imagine, for example, a situation, where two widowed sisters who owned a family farm could be recognized as an economic unit by the government for the purposes of taxation. However, incentivizing any non-marriage, personal union between two individuals engaged in a sexual relationship should never be condoned, regardless of whether or not that relationship is between homosexuals or heterosexuals. I would not, were I ever to find myself in the capacity of a civil magistrate, perform such a union.
Although a question about performing (traditional) marriages was not asked, I do think it would be prudent to address my convictions on the matter. Marriage is a foundational part of society and a model for the Christian’s relationship with Christ. Personally, I am troubled more deeply by the prevalence of unrepentant divorce and cohabitation in our society than I am by the prevalence of unrepentant homosexuality. Marriage is a lifelong commitment between, not only a man and a woman, but between a man, a woman, and God who put them together. A man and wife have solemn, God-given responsibilities to one another that often conflict with the contemporary, secular worldview. For example, a man, as spiritual leader of his household, is responsible to see that his family receives instruction from God’s word and Christian fellowship with other believers. That certainly doesn’t mean that the man has to be a member of the church, but I would question the fitness for marriage of any Christian man who is not prepared to be the spiritual leader of his household and any Christian woman who would submit herself in marriage to a man who would not submit himself to her Lord. Given that the church is literally the only church in town, I imagine conflicts might arise over any refusal, no matter how politely and lovingly communicated, to perform a requested marriage ceremony. There is certainly room for polite disagreement and discussion with regard to how the church might best serve the community by alleviating material and spiritual poverty in any given situation. However, scriptural principles must never be compromised. The world not only knows to whom the church belongs by how its members love one another but by how those members obey the Lord Jesus.
What would you say?
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
 Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:31
 Revelation 19:6-9
 Mark 10:9
 1 Corinthians 11:3
 Ephesians 6:4
 Hebrews 10:25
 John 13:35
 John 14:5