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