Re: Shapes of a Wedge

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun May 23 2004 - 20:44:13 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <>
To: <>
Cc: <>; <>;
<>; <>; <>
Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2004 7:35 PM
Subject: Re: Shapes of a Wedge

> On Sun, 23 May 2004 14:47:37 -0400 "George Murphy" <>
> writes:
> <snip>
> >
> > The idea that the state marries people is also problematic:
> > It is a
> > man and woman who marry one another, not a judge or a pastor. (In
> > the
> > marriage service of the Lutheran Book of Worship the presiding
> > minister does
> > not say "I now pronounce you husband and wife" but "A and B, by
> > their
> > promises before God and in the presence of this congregation, have
> > bound
> > themselves to one another as husband and wife.") The Genesis
> > creation
> > accounts suggest that marriage has a priority over the state.
> > the government and some Christians might not look at it that way.
> <snip>
> >
> > Shalom
> > George
> >
> >
> I can't speak of all, but I know that at least in some of the Latin
> American countries, the only valid marriage is the civil ceremony.
> Religious ceremonies are not recognized. This seems to be the result of
> anticlericalism. But adherents to the various faiths consider the
> religious ceremony vital.
> As to who marries, the problem seems to be like the silly notion that
> circulated in educational circles: We teach children, not subjects.
> Educators demonstrated that they are too ill-educated to know the
> difference between direct and indirect objects--accusative and dative in
> Latin or Greek, preventing something so silly from being said. That a
> marriage is only between husband and wife holds only for common law
> marriage, which I don't think is universally recognized, and then only
> with the lapse of time. I think this takes years. And then it is a matter
> of state legal provisions.
> As for the LBW, I wonder if that meets the requirements of all the
> states. I don't know what the express provisions are. The authority is
> granted by the state for clergy to perform the ceremony for adherents and
> those who want the appearance. However, the state's concern is not merely
> for religious adherents, but for all citizens.
> I recognize the divine order in marriage and the traditional phrase,
> "What God has joined together ..." But I cannot transfer that to the
> general population. I would wish that divine authority would be
> recognized by all, but it's not going to happen. The best I can hope for
> is that law will not finally depend on the whim of some judge with an
> agenda.

        I was referring to the validity of marriage in a theological sense -
i.e., what constiututes marriage "in the sight of God." The state is
concerned with the recognition and enforcement of marriage as a contract and
of course may have other requirements. In many European countries a couple
has to get married in a civil ceremony and then may or may not choose to
have a religious ceremony as well. (I have also done a "Blessing of a Civil
Marriage" in the U.S. but I think that's a lot less common here.)

        I'm sure that those who developed the marriage ceremony for the LBW
considered the question of legality, but also don't think states care much
what formula is used as long as a pastor signs & returns the certificate
saying the marriage has been "performed." (For that matter what's being
done - at least in Ohio - is simply certifying that the license the couple
has already gotten from the court has indeed been put into effect.)

Received on Sun May 23 20:44:51 2004

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