Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who Should Marry Cohabiting Couples?

This post raises a thought-provoking conversation for pastors to consider. I agree in principle with Doug Wilson that it's better for non-Christian*, cohabiting couples to get married than to continue cohabiting unmarried. I also agree with those who note that this creates an opportunity for a conversation about marriage and the gospel. (Well, a couple people sort of reference the gospel, at least.)

But there are other issues that no one addresses and only Al Mohler even approaches. For example, why would a cohabiting couple even desire marriage by a pastor? Do they want a "church wedding"—a Christianized ceremony conforming to societal expectations and endowed with a pastoral imprimatur? Is that something a pastor really wants to offer couples in an ongoing state of unrepentant sin?

My dad's a mayor and (at least so far) marries everyone that the law allows. Couples leave that ceremony with no illusion that they have the blessing of a religious sacrament. I think I could marry a non-Christian, cohabiting couple, but only if I'd thoroughly persuaded them of that same fact.

*The post doesn't explicitly address whether the couples are believers or not, and some of the commenters unhelpfully increase that ambiguity.

1 comment:

Bruce said...

I was glad to read Mohler's answer, but I imagine that it went over the head of many readers.

Most American evangelicals think that it's primarily a question of whether or not you would agree to marry those who are living in sin. I would agree with Mohler that it's more about whether my involvement as a pastor is somehow communicating that they are a part of the Christian community.

Most churches and their pastors have taken on the view of the wider culture that sees a pastor as a chaplain to the community, not a shepherd of a particular flock. Pastors relate to the community as evangelists, not shepherds.