Some Texas Baptist pastors want fellow ministers to consider whether they should stop signing marriage licenses as agents of the state and start asking couples to sign covenant marriage certificates.
To protect the free exercise of religion in the state—particularly in light of changing definitions of marriage at the national level—they also want to encourage churches to adopt clear statements defining their positions on sexual ethics and marriage. In addition, they hope to amend the Texas Constitution to include language modeled after the national Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Three ministers—Kyle Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens; Brent Gentzel, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kaufman; and Kris Segrest, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wylie—have organized a meeting to discuss the issues with other pastors Nov. 16, the eve of the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting in Waco, at 8 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium on the Baylor University campus.
At the meeting, the pastors will provide sample statements of faith, church policies, covenant marriage certificates and the proposed constitutional amendment.
Henderson quit signing marriage licenses about a year and a half ago.
“I had grown increasingly uncomfortable acting as an agent of the state,” he said.
Instead, he wanted couples to sign their vows to certify the covenant they made with each other before God, and then go on their own to register their marriage with the state.
On Oct. 22, First Baptist in Athens approved changes to its statement of faith, adding an article on “covenant marriage,” pointing to Ephesians 5:21-33 as its normative expression.
At the same time, the church amended its personnel handbook to say staff members employed by the church and its related ministries are exclusively allowed to officiate covenant marriage ceremonies and exclusively authorized to sign covenant marriage certificates.
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SOURCE: Baptist Standard