New Castle News

March 4, 2014

Marriage is a function of state, not religion

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Editor, The News:

Marriage is a state institution with a non-integral religious component. The lines between these have become blurred.

This is clear when legislators and lobbyists alike use religious grounds to justify bans on same sex marriage. What they forget are the words that we hear at every religious marriage ceremony: “By the power vested in me by the state of Pennsylvania …”

My former pastor once told me that he was approached by a man and woman who were living together but were not legally married. It was financially better for them to remain unmarried, but from a Christian standpoint, they were living in sin.

This bothered them, and they asked the pastor if he could perform a wedding ceremony without a state-issued license. This way, the church could recognize their marriage, but the state would not.

My pastor informed them that he was sorry, but he could not legally conduct a marriage ceremony without a state license. To do so, he would risk losing the privilege of being able to perform other marriages.

This power to perform marriage ceremonies in the church does not come from God; it comes from the state.

Legislators have ignored the same-sex marriage issue, which is now making its way through the courts to a likely inevitable conclusion. Mitchel Olszak (Dear Reader, Feb. 24) proposed a true separation of church and state for marriage in Pennsylvania as a possible solution to this issue. But that is clearly more easily said than done.

But one thing is clear: Religious arguments against certain kinds of marriages belong in religious institutions only, not in our government.

Bonnie Humphrey

Delaware Avenue

New Castle