So I Can Minister to Them

This is an open post to pastors and to all ordained ministers who hold firmly to the Scriptures.

The time of testing is here. However the Supreme Court rules on the matter, marriage between two men or between two women is here to stay. Legislators have found little strength to fight this movement, and it will not go away. So, pastors, now is the time to be sure you are prepared.

Do not be fooled. As homosexual marriage is legalized, pastors will have to come face to face with reality and answer this question: If I have married people without requiring biblical standards, based upon the fact that I could minister to them, how can I not do the same for homosexual couples? I believe that many will begin to answer the question with the same old answer: I do it so that I can minister. This will happen first in liberal churches and in churches in which significant members have children who have declared as homosexuals. But I fear it will spread. And as it spreads, pastor, if you try to draw the line at homosexuals, you will be attacked as homophobic and worse, especially if you are not applying a consistent biblical standard.

I have lived long enough to watch it happen. As a boy, I knew that Southern Baptist pastors never would marry couples who lived together and pretty much never performed weddings for those who had been divorced unless the pastor could be convinced of truly biblical exceptions to that policy. By the time I was a teen, divorce was becoming more prevalent in the church, and pastors began to pay less and less attention to the biblical nature of the divorce(s) of the individuals who wanted to remarry.

As my teen years turned to college and seminary years, a movement happened among pastors who began to argue in chorus that they must perform weddings of those committing fornication without requiring repentance and of the divorced without question of the biblical nature of the divorce, so that they would have a chance “to minister to the couple.” Early on, the phrase “share the gospel” was substituted for “minister,” but since it was pretty apparent that agreeing to perform a wedding was not necessary simply to share the gospel, the argument morphed to the broader idea of “ministry.”

Today, it is not too difficult to find Southern Baptist ordained ministers who perform weddings without much reference to biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality or to the application of those teachings to individual couples, based on the idea that we dare not “drive” someone away from our church and that we have opportunity to “minister” to them. Of course, the question could be raised that if we are not “ministering” repentance and conformity to the authoritative Word of God, just what are we ministering? but that is not the point here.

The point is that you might not be old enough to remember when pastors argued things like, “Others may marry people from unbiblical divorces or couples living in fornication without calling for their repentance, but I never will!” I am old enough to remember that. Once, many cried words like these, but as the pressure mounted, many gave in and took on the ministry argument. Are you ready?

Writer’s Note: Due to responses to this post, I have added a response here.



  1. […] original post, So I Can Minister to Them, has drawn considerable attention, for which I am grateful. In that attention has been a small […]

  2. The questions that are no longer asked is what keeps the church in “glorying that is not good” (1 Corinthians 5). Ministering to those who struggle in sin and wish to be free should be maintained within the church body, but those who remain in sin without any word of repentance provides the leaven of the bread. It is no longer about purity and holiness, it is keeping the congregation full of people who are going to hell, and those “instructors” will be judged accordingly (James 3:1). Jezebel has found her greatest work in the last days church, and those who tolerate her have lost their desire to be in His presence, but hers.

  3. […] Owens, my friend and colleague at SWBTS, has written a very pertinent post regarding the role of pastors in officiating wedding ceremonies in light of the current same-sex […]

%d bloggers like this: