The Rev. Ephraim Radner elaborates on the Marriage Pledge that he issued last week with the Rev. Christopher Seitz:
[W]hat was going on all these years was not just a lowering of standards for marriage, but an actual erosion of this common reality that had so long held between civil or natural marriage and Christian marriage. The two had been slowly pulling apart. Even, initially, the advent of same-sex “marriage” by various nations and states did not strike me as an insuperable separation: after all, there are just a few of these (and there still are, fortunately), and it won’t go very far or fast.
Yet over this past year, I have realized I was wrong on the “far and fast” side of things. And so wrong, in fact, that, having blinked a moment, I now opened my eyes to see the ruined husk of marriage in the civil sphere very clearly. And I also began to see appearing — and this is important — the dissolving foundations of Christian and ecclesial understandings of our own marriage framework, unconsciously if nothing else. Our larger culture, in articulated formal legal formulae, has indeed forgotten and dismantled the reality of natural marriage altogether. Period.
Should I no longer consider two civilly “married” persons who join the Church to be “in fact” married before God? It is not that I now assume they are not. Rather, it is the case that “I cannot know” any longer. If they are Christian, or come from some other traditional culture and even religion, I can perhaps assume they are (for now). And I am no judge, after all. Still, just because I can no longer know, it is incumbent upon me to fulfill my duties as a pastor, upheld by my preaching and teaching, in a way that articulates what is certain: When a marriage is done before God explicitly, by a man and woman who have heard the Scriptures that say “from the beginning of the creation … what God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” and these persons have said “yes” to this, then here is a true marriage.
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