Questions to Ask before Agreeing to Officiate a Wedding

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officiate a wedding

The only reason the State recognizes my right to officiate a wedding and sign a marriage license is because a local Christian church ordained me as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, I do weddings as a gospel minister of a local church, and not as a civil justice of the peace. That fact must shape how I understand my responsibility to God and to my congregation as I decide whether or not to officiate a wedding.

Marriage is a creation ordinance, given for all people for public good and human flourishing (Gen 2:23-24). Believers and unbelievers marry for their own good, the good of their children, and the good of society as a whole. Nevertheless, as a representative of the church, I call the couple in a wedding I officiate to public accountability before assembled witnesses through a biblical charge and wedding vows, and the body of Christ can only hold Christians accountable. If I refuse to officiate a wedding, I am not preventing anyone from getting married; I am only saying something about what weddings I think I have the authority to officiate based on my gospel-informed conscience.

When a couple asks me to do their wedding, I tell them I will be happy to meet with them to see if I would be able to officiate the wedding. Below are the questions I ask each couple (no matter how well I know them) to decide whether or not I will be able to lead the wedding ceremony.  Based on the answers to these questions the answer may be yes, no, or not now.

  1. Salvation/Personal Testimony?
  2. Of what local church are you an accountable member in good standing?
  3. Have you been married before?
  4. Do you have any children?
  5. How long have you courted/dated? Known each other?
  6. Are you presently living together? Have you previously lived together?
  7. Are you presently engaging in sexual relations? Have you been previously engaging in sexual relations?
  8. Why do you want to get married? Why him/her?
  9. How many children would you like to have?
  10. Is there some significant issue in your past, which you have not shared with him/her?

By |April 8th, 2015|Categories: Blog|

About the Author:

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and assistant professor of Christian preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of In the Arena and Church with Jesus as the Hero. He blogs at Prince on Preaching and frequently writes for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, For the Church, the BGEA and Preaching Today

One Comment

  1. Andrew Lindsey April 8, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Dr. Prince,
    It’s my understanding that Dr. Russell Moore would only officiate weddings for members of his own local congregation. Am I right in understanding that your position is somewhat more broad?

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