By In Culture, Politics

Anglican Archbishop Asks Clergy Not to Sign First Things “Marriage Pledge”

The Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of North America has released a statement urging members and clergy not to sign, “The Marriage Pledge” introduced by the writers at First Things. Archbishop Beach is asking for time for his bishops, clergy, and lay leaders “to consider the consequences of making such a commitment.”

The pledge introduced by Rev. Radner and Rev. Seitz at First Things is very compelling, the language  appeals to those of us who are frustrated with the judicial activism that has altered the meaning of marriage in too many states. The statement appeals to my inner libertarian with notions like, “We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates.” While at the same time reaffirming our love for the Church by an act of allegiance to the Christian definition of marriage, “We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.”

Doug Wilson has said of the pledge, “…Christians who tie the knot need to have more secure knots than the secularists do. If this pledge catches on, I can easily envision Christians being less bound, less obligated, less constrained, and less secure than Andrew Sullivan is in his mirage. In short, church weddings detached from the civil sphere are worthless unless the church is being given the contracted legal authority to adjudicate the divorce — property, custody, the works. Anything less than that is a sham and a farce.”

Read the statement from Archbishop Beach below:

“I am writing to you because there has been alot of discussion in recent days about taking “The Marriage Pledge.” If you have not been following the online conversation, you can read the Pledge here at First Things , as well as a critical commentary here on Doug Wilson’s blog.

Some of our bishops and clergy have been in favor of signing this pledge, some are not in favor of signing the pledge, while others need more time to consider the consequences of making such a commitment.

It would be best for us to take counsel together before taking further action. Therefore I ask that you do not sign this pledge until as bishops, clergy, and lay leaders we have had more opportunities to pray about and discuss the legal, theological, and sociological ramifications of signing such a statement.

I ask us all to join together in prayer for the preservation of a biblical understanding of marriage in our society, in specific prayers for the courts in North America, and particularly the U.S. Supreme Court as these issues come before them. Even in the midst of different perspectives about the wisdom of signing the pledge, we can rejoice that all of this discussion is motivated by a strongly shared commitment to the sanctity of marriage as established by Our Lord in the Scriptures. It is often when the times seem darkest that God’s glory can be most clearly displayed.

Your brother at the Foot of the Cross,

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Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America”

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6 Responses to Anglican Archbishop Asks Clergy Not to Sign First Things “Marriage Pledge”

  1. Josh Levy says:

    I humbly suggest adding the word “Yet” to your title, since the archbishop is not taking a position on the substance of the pledge, but is merely asking for more time to consider it. Thanks for the article.

  2. Rachelle says:

    It looks like the discussion became serious and public after this Marriage Pledge article seems to have forced the issue to be discussed now in a real way by the church collectively. The Church should have an answer why or why not to sign this pledge, and I hope will come together in unity to formulate a battle plan on what areas should be fought and how to fight for God’s definition of marriage and what the states role should be and so on.

  3. Makes me feel better to see a signature less legible than mine.

  4. On a more serious note, there are two kinds of marriage, church and civil. Each deserves its own service. A civil marriage has no morals clause at all. Two felons in jail, atheists, can get married no problem. We should have a service for them. Two church members who have chosen celibacy before marriage and a penitent and faithful life deserve a different service. The former service can be offered as an office of the state, performing an endorsement of a state function. A church marriage service can fully express the faith of the couple. An appendix to the prayer book can contain services such as civil marriage, with no reference to God, and can be performed anywhere.

  5. Steve, so nice to read about your family and to read these great articles. I met another Dutch Reformed Christian Studying Orthodoxy at a U. of Chicago reunion in 2006; very similar desire to know more and fear of taking that big step. For the state to require Christian ministers to perform civil marriages is similar to forcing physicians to perform abortions and the Romans requiring Christians to eat pagan sacrificed meat. We know how the latter turned out. Don’t forget “witness” in Greek is “martyria.”

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