Today, Congresswoman Diane Black’s newsletter affirms that no church will be required to hold nor any minister forced to marry persons they feel should not be married.
As a pastor, I have always had the right to choose what weddings I would celebrate. As a wedding celebrant I act on behalf of God and the state. There is a separation of church and state even here, for all the wedding certificate asks is: “ceremony- civil or religious”
As pastor I act in part as an agent of the State of Tennessee while performing a wedding. I sign a state issued marriage license. I have duties to ensure that the laws of Tennessee are upheld. For instance, I can not marry a couple who forgets to bring their wedding license to the ceremony.
Far Above and way beyond the laws of Tennessee, I represent the presence and blessings of God. I see my pastoral role as seeking to infuse grace into the lives of those who stand before me to be wed. In 26 years of celebrating weddings I have at times felt certain couples not well suited for marriage, yet I usually think of Jesus’ words on judgment and marry them despite my impressions. Still, I have the right to refuse to marry anyone for any reason that violates my sense of religious practice. I am proud to live in a nation that supports my right to exercise my faith free from state control. Pastors will retain the right to decide who to marry after today’s Supreme Court ruling. I have encouraged couples to change wedding music that would be fine if I all I cared about was Tennessee law. I have married couples when their home church pastor will not marry them because one person was divorced. I once counselled our next door neighbors to find an Unitarian celebrant to marry them. The groom was Jewish and the bride was Catholic and neither could find a Celebrant in their hometown willing to marry them. Pastors, Rabbis, churches and synagogues will not be forced to marry anyone they feel does not meet their standards of faith and practice.
Congresswoman Black’s email update states:
“As Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion: “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Nothing in this ruling should be interpreted to force churches or faith-leaders to recognize a union that is fundamentally at odds with their beliefs.”
I am thankful to live in a nation where I can practice my faith free from state interference or any religious council telling me what to do as a pastor. Friends, we have many who would love to live in this free land. Let us cherish and protect religious freedom. Civil Law changed today.