I’m in a mood to experiment a little.

You can find Part II here.

West Virginia State Capitol
West Virginia State Capitol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Great State of West Virginia, there are some requirements in order to perform a wedding ceremony. Besides age, one must be:

  • duly authorized to perform marriages by his or her church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization; and
  • in regular communion with that group of which he or she is a member.

West Virginia is one of the states where it is legal for two consenting adults of the same gender to marry. Yet, the allowance for performance thereof is dependent upon the church or other religious institution.

In simple English, you have to be authorized to perform marriages by your church or religion institution in order to be authorized by the State of West Virginia and that authorization seems to carry over only to the marriages authorized .

This gets into a hairy situation when a minister performs a marriage he or she is not authorized to perform.

Such as “gay marriage” if you are a United Methodist minister. Why? Because the Book of Discipline strictly forbids a minister from performing it:

We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God’s blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

And from our chargeable offenses category:

A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference, local pastor, clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may be tried when charged… with one or more of the following offenses…(b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings,15 including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies;

It does not render the “proof of authority” needed to conduct said ceremony. Of course, this is applicable to those who have laid aside their credentials as well. They can’t even perform “straight marriages!”

I would say that if someone performed a marriage that was unauthorized, they would be committing not only a violation of the Book of Discipline, but so too a crime against the State of West Virginia.

If you aren’t authorized, you can’t do it. If you do it, and aren’t authorized, then you have fraudulently signed an official state document, representing yourself as something you are not.

This raises a few questions.

  • Why are we mixing Church and State here? In West Virginia, there are more marriages available than are allowed by The United Methodist Church. And it appears that the State could get involved in passively enforcing denominational law.
  • If we prosecute ministers for performing marriages between two people with the same sexual organs, what about those who may be outside the BoD in regards to performing marriages without authorization? For instance, if a minister who has refused an appointment and is still simply sitting in a  congregation (with pastoral duties, titles, etc… basically a former UMC clergy) performs a marriage, what then?

I’m opening to hearing your thoughts…

Admit it. When I mentioned marriage and West Virginia, you thought I was going to argue for cousin marriage. Nope. That’s North Carolina. And any comments about bestality, I’ll just point to Ohio.