On The Legitimacy of Unbelieving Marriages and Families

balinese wedding

I tripped across this piece by David Van Drunen. DVD is a contemporary theologian who is doing some excellent work in Reformed natural law and W2K theorizing. I read the following remarks and thought immediately of Outhouse contributor Ruberad in his unrelenting view that the marriages of unbelievers are not legitimate.

DVD has not been named a saint yet, but I am contemplating a nomination. Ok, he uses that really bad category called “abortion” to make some of his specific points, but Outhouse sainthood is not as pure as Vatican City’s. Plus, I was waiting for him to make the Hartian point that in the next aeon our martial/familial ties will be dissolved, which seems to work quite against any notion that we may locate these institutions in the realm of special grace—you know, Jesus’ hate your father and mother, and Calvin’s “don’t be too tied to this world,” and all that sort of thing—but he doesn’t. Nevertheless, it is enough for me that he counters the unfathomable claim that unbelieving marriages are somehow invalid.

“There are many more things that Kloosterman said that I might respond to, but I must address just one more before making some concluding remarks. Kloosterman says: “Illustrative of the problematic two-kingdom construction being advocated by VanDrunen is the question: To which of the two kingdoms, worldly or spiritual, must we assign marriage and the family?” He apparently thinks that he has me locked on the horns of a hopeless dilemma, but I reply unambiguously: to the “worldly” kingdom. Marriage and family are part of the original creation order, they have been sustained by common grace, and my unbelieving neighbors’ marriage is just as valid in the sight of God and society as mine. Christ’s redemptive work is not the origin of marriage. The church did not establish the bearing of children. Marriage and family are institutions common to believers and unbelievers alike. The church recognizes these institutions, commends them, and gives some general instructions about them, but it does not create them.”

BTW, he is responding to this review of his book by Kloosterman.

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52 Responses to On The Legitimacy of Unbelieving Marriages and Families

  1. RubeRad says:

    “Christian marriages” are more equal than others.

    Believing parents may baptize their infants, unbelieving parents may not. The Church can enforce biblical mandates to love and submit, but the state can only penalize adultery as a violation of a legal, civil contract.

    By your logic, no marriages should ever be allowed in churches. I assume you were married in a church, with a reading of 1 Cor 13, by a pastor who said something like “by virtue of the authority committed unto me by the church of Christ and the law of the state”, which some would call a “Christian Wedding.” How does that make you feel?

  2. RubeRad says:

    I was waiting for him to make the Hartian point that in the next aeon our martial/familial ties will be dissolved

    It’s not like there will be no marriage, no family in the consummation; we won’t be married to each other, but that’s because the sign of our marriages will be replaced by their thing signified: our collective marriage as the Bride to Christ the Bridegroom.

    OTOH, a non-Christian marriage doesn’t signify loving and beloved submission to Christ any more than a swan dive into a public pool signifies cleansing from sin, or death & resurrection with Christ.

  3. RubeRad says:

    BTW, I read DVD’s Biblical Case for Natural Law and thought it was great. Made its point well in I think under 100 pages! Don’t remember him saying anything about marriage, but that was before I started thinking about it in relation to 2K.

  4. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rube,

    Why can’t a Christian marry a non-Christian?

    E

  5. RubeRad says:

    Other than because Paul says “Be not equally yoked together with unbelievers”, and WCF 24.3 says “it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord”? I’m thinking it’s cuz marriage has a component in the Kingdom of God.

    Why are children of believing parents, or even of only one believing parent, holy? Maybe because parenthood also has a component in the KoG?

  6. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    I have no idea how something can be “more equal” than another. It either is or it isn’t. Is that like being “sort of pregnant”?

    “By your logic, no marriages should ever be allowed in churches.”

    Really? That surprises me, since such a claim seems just as odd as saying “unbelieving marriages don’t count.” No, I wouldn’t say that.

    My marriage was performed and consecrated in a church, yes. You are right, I wouldn’t call mine a Christian marriage so much as a marriage of two Christians. But I don’t see how this bars mine from taking place in a church.

    “It’s not like there will be no marriage, no family in the consummation; we won’t be married to each other, but that’s because the sign of our marriages will be replaced by their thing signified: our collective marriage as the Bride to Christ the Bridegroom.”

    No, it is like there will be no marriage: Mark 12:25, “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” And, yeow, “sign and thing signifed” language about marriage? Are you suggesting marriage is a sacrament? I think there is a big difference between “consecration” and “sacrament.”

    “Why are children of believing parents, or even of only one believing parent, holy? Maybe because parenthood also has a component in the KoG?’

    Then why am I told to hate my parents? Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”

    I don’t know, Rube, you said you could be in DVD’s office in two shakes…why don’t you just take it up with him as to why he’s wrong?

  7. RubeRad says:

    I have no idea how something can be “more equal” than another

    “more equal” was a joking reference to Animal Farm, my way of saying they’re not really equal. Christian marriages are more.

    I wouldn’t call mine a Christian marriage so much as a marriage of two Christians.

    So would you say that conducting marriages is a legitimate function of the Church, or just a legitimate function of a Church building?

    But I don’t see how this bars mine from taking place in a church.

    What business does the church have meddling in purely common-grace affairs? What are the powers vested in a pastor “by the church of Christ”, above those common-grace powers also vested in a justice of the peace “by the law of the state? Why would it be unacceptable for an unordained layperson to perform a church-wedding?

    Then why am I told to hate my parents? Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”

    Don’t be silly. If this verse means “parenthood has no component in the KoG”, then by this logic, you wouldn’t even be able to assert that the individual is in the intersection of the two kingdoms.

    And, yeow, “sign and thing signifed” language about marriage? Are you suggesting marriage is a sacrament?

    No, marriage is not an ordinance mandated by Christ for all believers. But there are more signs in the Bible than just sacraments; and wherever there is a sign, there is a thing signified.

    But you deliberately ignored the intent of my point; there will be one marriage in the consummation; we will be the Bride of Christ. Our earthly marriages will be dissolved not because they are completely worldly, or because they are not “Christian” relationships, but because the far greater reality of our marriage to Christ will not admit any competitors.

    The relationship between Elder and Member in the Church is also a relationship that will not exist in the consummation, but it is certainly a “Christian relationship.” So “such a relationship will not exist in the age to come” is not a sufficient reason to say that a relationship is purely KoM.

  8. Zrim says:

    “So would you say that conducting marriages is a legitimate function of the Church…?”

    Yes.

    “Don’t be silly. If this verse means “parenthood has no component in the KoG”, then by this logic, you wouldn’t even be able to assert that the individual is in the intersection of the two kingdoms.”

    What does it mean, then? I mean, even if we the individual is in the intersection (I agree), what does it mean that I have to “hate my own life”?

    “But you deliberately ignored the intent of my point; there will be one marriage in the consummation; we will be the Bride of Christ. Our earthly marriages will be dissolved not because they are completely worldly, or because they are not “Christian” relationships, but because the far greater reality of our marriage to Christ will not admit any competitors.”

    What if I promise I won’t let my wife get between me and God–can I keep her? Kidding.

    Eh, seems to me that God could think of a way to both let us retain our spouses and not let it compete for loyalty, don’t you think?

    I am not suggesting that marriages are somehow evil (i.e. “worldly”), but simply that they comport with all things that “are passing away,” which is why we are called to not be too tied to them. Which is a tall order. Same with our own lives. If we think we are fulfilling that call to not be too tied, contemplate the prospect of a malignant diagnoses on your part or your spouse’s. We are called to not be too tied because the ship (read: creation) is sinking, not because the ship is inherently evil.

    But I am still a bit less interested in what a marriage between Christians is than I am as to just why non-Xian ones are invalid. It seems that you are forced to “trump up” or make more of Xian ones in order to justify the rendering non-Xian ones to be invalid.

  9. Rick says:

    At first I thought that was a picture of two women getting married.

    Carry on.

  10. I think it is relevant to the discussion that the minister says the following:

    “By the power INVESTED IN ME BY THE STATE of ______, I hereby declare you husband and wife.”

    I don’t really have time to join the discussion I have a paper due on Fri. and a DVD final next week.

    I always saw all of you guys in the comments section of other Reformed blogs. It’s nice to know that you have a place you can call home now. I enjoy your discussions.

  11. Rick says:

    Sure Brian, hit and run why don’t you? :)

    Brian brings up another 2K point. In that the State has given a minister of the Word and sacraments power to declare marriage.

  12. In the words of Ahhnold: “I’ll Be Back”

  13. Zrim says:

    Brian,

    Yes, an Outhouse seems a fitting home for pilgrims.

    It may be good to remember that the lines being drawn can get fuzzy (which is why diligence at working on it seems necessary in the first place). It may sound like a cop-out, but not everything can be easily demarcated; we must be comfortable with questions that cannot be answered and answers that seem unsatisfactory. Plus, where is common sense? I mean, listen to what is being said: unbelieving marriages are invalid and those who say they are valid must necessarily believe weddings ought not be performed in churches…huh?

    The classic Reformed tradition, following the catholic one, sees that God is sovereign in all things. He rules as much in the LHK as the RHK. The state is His servant, just as much as the Church. Both spheres belong wholly to Him and you cannot bifurcate them. Just as God’s sovereignty and human responsiblity inexplicably co-exist, it is mysterious as to how the two spheres are at once antithetical to one another and sovereignly His. It cannot be easily explained. But creation was made “very good” and despite its fallenness yet perpetuates His good, creative purposes, however subject to passing away. The institutions that God has ordained are of no less value due to their fallenness.

    It is completely invalid to say that unbelieving marriages are invalid and is more gnostic than Christian. It reflects, I think, a much too low view of creation. To say that they are unequal is to over-realize a common endeavor simply because it is staffed by believers. True, we must not be unequally yoked, but it seems to me a mistake to infer from that that what two believers are doing in marriage is “more valid.” It seems to me that this idea that a common endeavor is made “better, more valid or improved” by the presence of believers dovetails nicely with PoMo versions of relational transformationalism (“just by our being here things are better”). Yuck.

  14. RubeRad says:

    “By the power INVESTED IN ME BY THE STATE of ______, I hereby declare you husband and wife.”

    The formula in the first comment is “by virtue of the authority committed unto me by the church of Christ and the law of the state”, which is coped from the PCA BOCO.

  15. RubeRad says:

    At first I thought that was a picture of two women getting married.

    Now THAT would be invalid!

  16. RubeRad says:

    But I am still a bit less interested in what a marriage between Christians is than I am as to just why non-Xian ones are invalid. It seems that you are forced to “trump up” or make more of Xian ones in order to justify the rendering non-Xian ones to be invalid.

    I’m not saying they’re invalid or illegitimate; I’m saying they’re incomplete, so I don’t think it takes any “trumping up” to make more of Christian marriages; they are more.

    I don’t understand how you can relegate marriage completely to the KoM. If that were the case, then it would be no different than any business partnership; Try reading this twice, thinking once of marriage, and once of business:

    Partnership is completely in the KoM; Christianity has nothing to say about whether Christians should partner with non-Christians. Partnerships between non-Christians are no less valid than partnerships between Christians. One cannot meaningfully speak of a “Christian partnership”. It is not relevant whether the officiant of a partnering is an ordained minister of the church; in fact, Pastors have no business officiating partnerships or celebrating them in church sanctuaries, and they cannot say “By virtue of the authority committed unto me by the church of Christ and the law of the state, I hereby make you partners.”

    I don’t have time to mine the past, but you somewhere once conceded that there is some difference between a covenant family and a secular family; well whatever that difference is, that is the “Christian-ness” that lands in the KoM/KoG intersection.

    In turn, I am happy to concede that non-Christian marriages are not completely illegitimate or invalid, but I still contend there is a difference, and that Christian marriages are more than non-Christian marriages.

  17. RubeRad says:

    Found it!

    you seem to be suggesting that unbelieving families are somehow not as good or sub-par. what i am saying is that true faith doesn’t make any temporal endeavor legitimate. a christian marriage/family is very different from a non-, of course, but it has nothing to do with legitimacy. and, besides, when paul tells me to love my wife as Christ loved the church it is not to tell me how to order my home so much as it is being used to illustrate an eternal point. after all, even pagans know to love their wives and even submit to their husbands. we do it for entirely different reasons, just like we pursue the law of God for different reasons (read: the HB catechism–CoG, gratitude, grace, etc. versus CoW, reward and self-justification).

    yes, family is a covenantal activity, but unbelievers can have well ordered ones as well.

  18. RubeRad says:

    A thought experiment:

    Situation 1: Hi, Pastor, my name is Zrim Jr. My daddy raised me to be so strictly W2K as to believe that marriage is solely a common-grace institution. Thus the Ms. and I are going to sign some papers at the JoP, have a nice reception at the moose lodge (to which you are invited) — our marriage will be exactly as legitimate as any pair of pagans — a “marriage of Christians”, you might say, rather than a “Christian marriage”. Of course, when the time comes, we expect you to baptize our babies, and not discipline us for shacking up without being married.

    Situation 2: Hi Pastor, when my wife and I got married last year, we were both hardcore secular atheists. We got married in a godless ceremony at the JoP and had a nice reception at the Moose Lodge (sorry you weren’t invited). Last year we became Christians, and joined your church, at which point we became a “marriage of Christians” you might say, even though we didn’t have a “Christian wedding,” and guess what, in a few months, we’ll be having our first baby, and we’re really looking forward to having you baptize him/her.

    What’s the difference? In the second situation, I expect (and hope) the pastor would say “Congratulations, I can’t wait either!” but in the first, I hope the pastor would say “Wait a minute, don’t you know that there is such a thing as a ‘Christian marriage’, and that there is more to it than just a secular marriage? I don’t think this is a good idea — let’s get together with your dad and some elders and talk through this concept.”

    Also in the second situation, I think it would not be inappropriate for the ex-atheist couple to be told at some point, “you know, your marriage is now a Christian marriage — you don’t need do-overs or anything, but bad news: unrepentant adultery now subjects you to excommunication, and good news: your babies can be baptized!”

  19. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rube,

    You said: “But you deliberately ignored the intent of my point”.

    How apt.

    E

  20. Rick says:

    Here’s some Calvin from The Institutes. Now, I know he’s arguing against marriage as a sacrament but:

    Thus, you may say that [the papists] sought nothing but a den of abominations when they made a sacrament out of marriage. For when they once obtained this, they took over the hearing of matrimonial cases; as it was a spiritual matter, it was not to be handled by secular judges.

    4.19.37

    Calvin seems to be condemning Rome for taking marriage out of the hands of the State, isn’t he? For making matrimonial cases (union and divorce) a spiritual matter and not a secular one, right?

  21. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    Pick what word you want to use and stick with it. You have always said “invalid” or “illegitimate.” Now you want “incomplete.” To my mind, I really don’t see much difference, although you now seem to, and I am unclear as to just what you intend by this distinction. I am not clear on what it proves to say that different kinds of marriages are different, except we are now simply being redundant. I have never had any problem saying mine is different from an unbeliever’s. But different is not the same as “incomplete” (or whatever term you are now wanting to use). My individual life is different from John Q Unbeliever, but it isn’t in any measure less-than or incomplete. Are you suggesting that his murder would be somehow less important than mine? Can you see how quickly “incomplete” gets you into trouble? Again, your low view of creation is simply unfathomable.

    “Pastors have no business officiating partnerships or celebrating them in church sanctuaries, and they cannot say “By virtue of the authority committed unto me by the church of Christ and the law of the state, I hereby make you partners.”

    If you want to take the BOCO to task, feel free. You might want to run it by DVD first though, and I don’t envy having to convince someone like him that he is flat wrong. For my part, I perceive that any and all marriage–both un/believers–find their legitimacy in the state because it is completely a creation ordinance, not a churchly one, just as DVD says in the post proper. The state issues live birth certificates (the church baptizes the infant), the state issues marriage (the church “commends” or consecrates the union) and the state issues death certificates (the church commits souls to the Lord). Nobody is legitimately born, married or dead until God’s creational agent says so, Christian or not.

    I am not sure what your scenario experiment proves other than your misunderstanding. Not only would I expect my covenant children (I have two daughters, by the way, so having them referring to a Ms. only complicates this discussion!!) to marry in the same church in which they were baptized, I would expect that they “marry in the Lord,” which would preclude those not of a Presbyterian or Reformed confession (OK, maybe a concession to another staunch Reformational tradition). But if, for whatever reasons, since they are adults who can make their own decisions however unsavory, they went to the JoP, their marriage wouldn’t be one iota incomplete, since its legitimacy begins in creation and is sealed by the state in the first place.

    (I may be wrong, but I have always wondered if your “invalid” view is a function of your not wanting to have to say something to the currently popular gay marriage issue. Instead of sounding homophobic and render a “no,” as I do, you say that unbelieving marriages are invalid in the first place, that anyone married by the state is not really married anyway, so…go ahead, I don’t care, can’t call me a fundie homophobe. Well, much as I would hate to be mistaken for a fundie homophobe, the same logic that tells me all marriage is grounded in creation also tells me that it is only between one man and one woman. Natural law and creational thinking seems to conclude this without much trouble. If the agents of the state disagree and allow gay marriage, so be it. But I won’t get to bothered by it; it is enough for me to say I disagree, since I am no political-moralist, which is why I don’t get as frothy as those who share my conservative conclusion on the may/mayn’t she question in Roe. Where we share the same conclusion on that question, we sharply part when it comes to political-moralism. What bothers me more than gay marriage is married sexual libertines…why isn’t anyone up in arms about that and seeking to revoke their marriages? Kidding…sort of)

  22. Zrim says:

    Rick,

    It seems that way, yes. In her motive to make marriage a churchly sacrament, Rome actually over steps churchly bounds and wants to see marriage has being grounded in the church instead of the state. In this way, it seems like a double-whammie.

    What say you, Rube? Seems Calvin and DVD have something of a problem with marriage being so over-realized as to say it is grounded in redemption over creation…

  23. RubeRad says:

    Pick what word you want to use and stick with it. You have always said “invalid” or “illegitimate.”

    Z, I honestly don’t think that’s the case; I feel that those are words that you have put into my mouth. I have searched the comments of my blog and this blog for the words “invalid” and “illegitimate” or “illegit”, and I have satisfied myself that this is the case; but I may have missed something. I seem to recall you have made me eat my words before, so maybe you can find something that I can’t, but as I see it, the word “illegit” was introduced into the conversation by you.

    Now you want “incomplete.” To my mind, I really don’t see much difference

    “Invalid” or “illegit” would be like saying “they aren’t actually married,” or “they aren’t actually parents,” which is I think the silliness you are hearing from me, which would explain why you react the way you do. Incomplete is different. It’s like I’m not saying that they don’t actually have a car, I’m saying they have an “incomplete” car, maybe a car without a backseat, or a Flintstone’s car.

    Are you suggesting that his murder would be somehow less important than mine?

    No, but I am suggesting that there are larger implications to Christian divorce than secular divorce. Secular divorce involves arguing about property and tearing your kids in half. Christian divorce also involves church discipline and potential excommunication.

    If you want to take the BOCO to task, feel free

    You missed my point. I don’t want to take BOCO to task; my “Christian marriage is in the intersection of the kingdoms” view comports just fine with “By the authority committed to me by the church of Christ and the law of the state.” The point I’m trying to make is that YOUR view should only allow “By the power vested in me by the state,” then your 2K ethic should take over and forbid “Christian marriages,” because no function of the church or her ministers should be subject to state authority.

    But if, for whatever reasons, since they are adults who can make their own decisions however unsavory, they went to the JoP, their marriage wouldn’t be one iota incomplete

    (Sorry, I forgot you had daughters, but you got the point) So you consistently allow for church-free marriages for Christians, but I don’t know on what basis you would call that concept “unsavory”. Wouldn’t that make secular marriages of non-Christians less savory than Christian marriages?

    (I tell you what, I find nothing less savory than a “Christian” marriage of non-Christians. Have you ever been to a church-wedding of non-Christians? What a depressing farce! (And I feel compelled to say at this point, that my use of the word “farce” is not meant to imply that such persons are not actually married in the end; they are married by virtue of the paperwork they fill out with the state — but the “Christian-ness” of their wedding and their marriage is what is farcical))

    I may be wrong, but I have always wondered if your “invalid” view is a function of your not wanting to have to say something to the currently popular gay marriage issue.

    I do have a position on this, but I have intentionally left it out of this discussion. Hold off for now, and I’ll (eventually) set it up as a separate post.

  24. RubeRad says:

    The state issues live birth certificates (the church baptizes the infant), the state issues marriage (the church “commends” or consecrates the union) and the state issues death certificates (the church commits souls to the Lord)

    So what does ‘”commends” or consecrates’ mean? Seems like if that is at all significant, a marriage that is missing it would be “incomplete”. Should an ordained, confessional, reformed minister of the gospel “commend or consecrate” a state-realized marriage of non-Christians? By your position, it would seem that a non-Christian marriage is no less commendable than a Christian marriage (although I don’t see how you could call a non-Christian marriage “consecratable”, or how it is consistent for you to call a Christian marriage “consecrated”!)

    Does anything really “happen” when a marriage is consecrated? I think you would say “No, a church wedding is about as significant as a baby dedication.” OTOH, I say “yes”, and you accuse me of raising marriage to a sacrament. I think there’s room in between (i.e. “yes”, but marriage is not a means of grace)

  25. RubeRad says:

    Calvin seems to be condemning Rome for taking marriage out of the hands of the State, isn’t he?

    It would be wrong to take the both-kingdom institution of marriage completely out of the hands of the state. As far as civil marriage is a legal contract between two parties, it is up to the state to adjudicate contractual breach (i.e. adultery, unilateral or bilateral withdrawal, etc.), and justly divide property (so old wives don’t get dumped on the street in exchange for trophy wives) and children (abusive parents don’t get to keep them).

    But as far as marriage is a filial covenant, it falls to church government to call for repentance, wielding the sword of excommunication. I think the process of church discipline of an unrepentant adulterer would accurately be described by

    the hearing of matrimonial cases; as it was a spiritual matter, it was not to be handled by secular judges

  26. RubeRad says:

    …marriage being grounded in the church instead of the state. … grounded in redemption over creation…

    I don’t see these statements as equivalent. Just because something has a churchly component, doesn’t mean it is “grounded in redemption.” And again, from your point of view, if marriage needs to be “grounded in redemption” before it can be “Christian”, then you should be boycotting all church weddings.

  27. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    I am not much for got’chya agames. But I have used the word on your behalf and to my recollection you have never once, before this post, protested it…so I have always figured that was how you would characterize the marriages of unbelievers.

    Ok, so incomplete. Everything I have said still stands. Yes, that means their marriages are complete, because it begins and ends in creation. Nothing more need be said.

    I am not saying the church, in consecrating marriage, is submitting to the state; she is consecrating what is authorized by God in the LHK. You are being much too wooden in interpreting my W2K view here to say I end up forbidding marriages in churches.

    Yes, I got the point but just wanted to lend some levity is all (!). It is unsavory because Christians ought to consecrate their marriages. That seems just plain obvious to me. Their un-churchly marriage, while completely legitimate, is yet formally unconsecrated, thus more unsavory than savory. You are conflating un/savory with ill/legitimate. You need to parce those things out better.

    Have I been to a church wedding of non-Christians? I don’t know, but I am picturing one now. Yes, I see a disconnect going on inasmuch as nothing is really being spiritually consecrated. I gather you mean two people who doing the church thing out of some nominally traditional or nostalgic impulse. I don’t understand a minister who would marry two non-members of his church.

    A consecration to God is only something the godly may do, so that the ungodly don’t makes sense. But it doesn’t affect their creational legitimacy. I think that conflation I mentioned above is still at play in this question. I realize the placement of baptism in the consecration-medly muddies the waters (pun sort of intended) since baptism is also a sacrament. But my point is simply that the state, in its creational ordination, has a function to play and so does the church in shared phenomenae. No, nothing “happens” in a consecration as in a sacrament, strictly speaking (baby dedications are usually a part of Sabbath worship and fall quite out of the purview of correct worship, thus not only does nothing “happen” but they are false elements of worship). But when when we pray over our dinner at night we are similarly consecrating our food to God and nothing is “happening.” It’s just that marriage and death are signifant milestones that seem to require a more churchly consecration if to be savory amongst believers…I don’t bring my dinner to church every night and invite fellow believers to consecrate it to God. These are obviously two different activities and requite two different kinds of efforts.

    I am not accusing you of raising marriage to a sacrament necessarily. I am pointing out how consistent your views seem to be with those that do is all.

  28. Zrim says:

    “I don’t see these statements as equivalent. Just because something has a churchly component, doesn’t mean it is “grounded in redemption.” And again, from your point of view, if marriage needs to be “grounded in redemption” before it can be “Christian”, then you should be boycotting all church weddings.”

    Now your conflation has me a bit turned around.

    Marriage is not grounded in redemption, it is grounded in creation. Mine is a marriage between two Christians who have consecrated their marriage to God. Our salvation is grounded in redemption, but not our marriage.

    And I don’t boycott stuff since I am not an activist.

  29. RubeRad says:

    I have used the word on your behalf and to my recollection you have never once, before this post, protested it

    It’s probably true that it took me this long to understand what you were saying I’m saying.

    I think we’re nearer now than we (thought we) were, agreeing that there is some kind of difference between Christian marriage and secular marriage, but disagreeing about the scope of the difference — for you it is maybe just “savoriness”?

  30. RubeRad says:

    Mine is a marriage between two Christians who have consecrated their marriage to God.

    Now that sentence makes sense; but it would make no sense at all if you were to say that you and a business partner have consecrated your bakery to God. This is because baking DOES belong unambiguously to the KoM; but marriage is in both kingdoms…

  31. Echo_ohcE says:

    If I got married in a church, who married me?

    If I got married in a justice of the peace’s office, who married me?

    In any marriage, who marries who?

    It is the Groom and the Bride who do the marrying. The pastor only officially bears witness, and leads you through the appropriate words.

    But I married my wife on the authority of my own word when I said, “I do”. I did not do so in the name of the state or in the name of the church.

    I married my wife. My wife married me.

    The state recognizes my marriage officially through people who are licensed to do that.

    In the first century, the father of the bride and the groom made the decision, and the bride never had any say (stick that in your pipes, Arminians). She was given in marriage. The day of the wedding, they made sacrifices to Zeus and ate meat, a very rare delicacy in those days, and everyone went away fat dumb and happy. The only religious thing that took place was that the meat was sacrificed to the gods. But it wasn’t a big public sacrifice. Probably the servants did it. It wasn’t part of the wedding ceremony per se.

    Not church, not state. Yet both recognize it officially as valid. Neither makes it valid, they only recognize that a marriage has taken place. My authority to marry my wife is my own.

    How about that?

  32. Echo_ohcE says:

    Uh oh…

    sounds like somebody needs to posit a THREE kingdom view…

    I wonder if anyone already has…

  33. Echo_ohcE says:

    I wonder if the fact that the family was instituted prior to the fall makes it different than the state, which was only insitituted after the fall to uphold justice in a fallen world. I wonder if the family can really be called a common grace institution. Certainly both are distinct from the church, a redemptive grace institution. Hmmm…

    Man, I wish someone had already come up with this three kingdom view and had articulated how it came out nicely. And wouldn’t it be nice if that person were Reformed, and even better if he were a very good writer?

    And wouldn’t we relish it even more if it was a man who was misunderstood by almost everybody, because no one realized that he actually had a 3 kingdom view? Wouldn’t he be a bit like an unsung hero, a bit of an underdog, a man whose views are known by many, but understood by a precious token few?

    Wouldn’t that be neat? Wouldn’t it be so…Reformed?

    Yeah. I wonder if such a man exists.

  34. Echo_ohcE says:

    Authority is such a helpful category.

  35. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    Re your “who married whom” above…that sounds fairly anti-instititutional to me, much more Modern than Christian. I hear that Modern voice that can be heard saying stuff like, “Hey, man, we don’t need no stinking piece of paper to tell us we’re married. We are married in our hearts.” You seem to place authority inside man when you say you married your wife instead of an external authority making it legitimate. But you get consistency points, what with all that talk way back about “God looking at the heart” of a believer changing his tire versus the unbeliever doing the same thing (that is, when they aren’t doing what most unbelievers do, like going to bars and picking up fluzzies). You seem very taken with the human heart standing between God and man. I wouldn’t wince so much about that if you didn’t have such an un-Calvinistically high view of the believer’s heart.

    Also, with regard to your attempt to champion some sort of Christian version of Modern egalitarianism and somehow imply Arminians are oppresive (talk about bad-form demonizing), what do you make of the biblical usage of the phrase “given in marriage” when Jesus is explaining that our marriages will be dissolved in the next aeon, etc.? Was He perpetuating something that which Moderns deem misogynistic?

    I take it the rest of your posts are some sort of thinly veiled shot at me? I can’t be sure, and I can’t say that I completely understand. But if by “three kingdom view” you mean to imply that a triadalist view is somehow askew, I don’t know, take it up with Horton since he brielfy sketches as much in God of Promise. Like it or not, we are triadalists with a two-kingdom view; being triadalist is not inconsonant with the two-kingdom view. Or take it up with Hart who points out that we are “not mere dualists” but also confess a triadalist conception. Tell you what, Rube can explain to DVD that unbelieving marriages are “incomplete” and you can tell Horton and Hart that triadalism is for the birds.

    But the point of the post was simply to say that unbelieving marriages are completely valid, and some have taken issue with that. I cannot fathom what exactly the problem with that notion is, but I think we may be getting close to it. And methinks I smell a form of transformationalism…

  36. Zrim says:

    “I think we’re nearer now than we (thought we) were, agreeing that there is some kind of difference between Christian marriage and secular marriage, but disagreeing about the scope of the difference — for you it is maybe just “savoriness”?”

    Rube, I really think we are still seeing things differently.

    I keep hearing you ascribe some sort of de/value to unbelieving marriages; now you seem to be doing so on my behalf. No, they are not “unsavory” (unsavory was the word I used to describe a set of believers NOT consercrating their marriage to God). My point all along is that they are COMPLETELY GOOD. I think you have landed on describing them as “incomplete.” I could be wrong, but I gather that this is your final adjective.

    The whole idea that unbelieving marriages are “incomplete” strikes me as more transformationalist (and Gnostic) than Christian. I think it’s a version of “creation isn’t good enough until it is redeemed.” Creation is inherently good, it needs no improvement. Now, it is passing away, but that should not be miscontrued to say something about its nature. It is passing away due to its federal head’s sin, but that sin does nothing to obscure its inherent goodness.

    Stick with me as I take another tack. In response to Keller’s “let’s transform NYC,” I once said, What’s wrong with NYC; I love NYC and wouldn’t change a thing. It got quite a bit of howls for various reasons. But part of what I mean is that when God said creation is “very good,” He meant it really is good. Transformationalism, it has always seemed to me, has a very low view of creation to the point that it is really saying it isn’t good until it is redeemed. So when you say a marriage of unbelievers is “incomplete” I hear the same things in Keller (or whoever) that seem to suggest that whatever can be found grounded in creation really isn’t “very good” until it is redeemed. In this case, an unbelieving marriage isn’t complete until one or both become believers. And I find that sub-Christian in the final analysis.

  37. RubeRad says:

    And wouldn’t we relish it even more if it was a man who was misunderstood by almost everybody, because no one realized that he actually had a 3 kingdom view? Wouldn’t he be a bit like an unsung hero, a bit of an underdog, a man whose views are known by many, but understood by a precious token few?

    Are you dropping hints that there is such a writer? I am certainly too ignorant to play that game!

  38. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    Like I said above, I think this may be Echo’s way of taking a shot at triadalism. He calls it a three kingdom view, but may not understand that there is such a thing as triadalism.

    I’d supply my past post on “The Power of the Venn” but I cannot locate it…where’d it go??

  39. RubeRad says:

    If a believers’ marriage is COMPLETELY GOOD purely by virtue of being a marriage, and not because they are believers, why would it be unsavory for them not to consecrate it? If secular marriage is already completely good, why don’t you think that “consecrating a marriage” is an unsavory concept — as unsavory as consecrating a bakery?

    And I still don’t understand how you reconcile “by the authority committed to me by the church of Christ” and “marriage is not in the intersection of the two kingdoms”, i.e. how can you stand ordained pastors performing Christian weddings in Christian churches?

  40. Zrim says:

    “If a believers’ marriage is COMPLETELY GOOD purely by virtue of being a marriage, and not because they are believers, why would it be unsavory for them not to consecrate it? If secular marriage is already completely good, why don’t you think that “consecrating a marriage” is an unsavory concept — as unsavory as consecrating a bakery?”

    It would seem to me that there is a difference between formal and informal consecration. For a believer, all of life should be consecrated to God, including everything from meals to work, etc. But it does seems that those as momentous and unique as marriage (as well as birth and death) ought to be formally consecrated, that for believers to treat these momentous phenomenon in a common way just makes little sense (read: unsavory).

    “And I still don’t understand how you reconcile “by the authority committed to me by the church of Christ” and “marriage is not in the intersection of the two kingdoms”, i.e. how can you stand ordained pastors performing Christian weddings in Christian churches?”

    The only thing I see at the intersection of the two kingdoms is the individual, since all things will pass away (a new heavens and new earth seems to mean that nothing associated with this present age will make it past Peter’s image of Holocaust but that which both bears the image of God and is also found to be in Christ). The believing individual participates in every aspect of creation the same way unbelievers do. But because of their status as believers they experience or understand those things differently. We get married (and eat, work, sleep, play, etc.), just like everyone else. But we see our marriages, just like every other creational activity, under the Lordship of Christ, thus needful of consecration. The legitimacy of every marriage begins with the state; the marriage of believers is then consecrated by the minister. The state lends authority to the minister so that when he performs the ceremony there is a sort of double action happening in that he is both acting on the state’s behalf in authorizing the marriage and also consecrating it.

  41. RubeRad says:

    You persist with an unjustified (from your perspective) dichotomy between marriage and other common grace endeavours. Why is marriage more “momentous and unique” than groundbreaking or signing of a business partnership contract for a new bakery? After all, Vocation is also a creational institution… And what is so “momentous and unique” about marriage that it allows an ordained minister to cross into the other kingdom and act on behalf of the state?

    The legitimacy of every marriage begins with the state

    I thought your position was that the legitimacy of every marriage begins and ends with the state?

    The state lends authority to the minister

    Yes, I understand that part. But you continue to avoid the phrase “authority committed to me by the church of Christ” In your conception, what is that authority, and what is it for, why can’t the church return the favor and lend that authority to the JoP? Why can’t any old lay-christian just offer a marriage-consecrating prayer, just like any lay-christian can say grace for a meal?

  42. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    Come on now. You are being too wooden, again. Are you really suggesting marriage is no different from other common endeavors? Your need to force marriage into the KoG is leading you to flatten out that which simply cannot be. I guess you may call it unjustified, but there is equality with distinction and equality without distinction. I am employing the former, you are employing the latter.

    Yes, it does begin and end in creation. My use of the word “begins” has been confusing. How about if I instead say it is “grounded” or “finds its complete origin in”?

    A minister has spiritual authority vested in him by the Church. Just because the Church cannot lend spiritual authority to the state doesn’t nullify the fact that the state can lend creational authority to the Church, if that is what you mean to imply; again, you are being too wooden. Any old lay-Christian cannot do so because s/he doesn’t have the authority vested in him/her by the Church to consecrate. Again, my meal eating is just plain different from birth/marriage/death. They are both common endeavor but not equal.

    If you are right in all this (including your wrong interpretation of me), we must turn historical practice on its head. It has never even occurred to me that what has been historically done should be altered in any way. Does that count for anything?

  43. RubeRad says:

    Are you really suggesting marriage is no different from other common endeavors?

    No, I see marriage as not just common, but also partly in the KoG. It is YOU who is trying to suggest this (“marriage is not in the intersection”) and simultaneously trying not to suggest it (“consecrated” marriage is is somehow related to some kind of spiritual authority)

    It has never even occurred to me that what has been historically done should be altered in any way. Does that count for anything?

    That could just mean tradition is wrong, and your proper 2K-ness has failed to work itself out in this area where you are still mired in tradition. If this is the case, then indeed historical practice needs to be turned on its head. Or it could be that tradition is right, and your understanding of marriage’s relation to the two kingdoms is wrong.

    When I try to push you on your insistence that marriage is common, you say I am too wooden, and you proceed to add nuance about consecration, spiritual authority, etc. I submit that whatever the correct nuance is that you’re aiming for that is the intersection of marriage and the KoG!.

    Earlier, you speculated that the motivation for my position is a need to consistently hold a certain position about gay marriage. Well I now speculate that the motivation for your position is a need to deny that the KoG is concerned with anything but redemption (see in the post itself: “marriage is grounded in creation, not in redemption, QED”). And yet you agree that performing marriages and funerals are legitmate functions of the church. So why the presupposition that “grounded in creation, not redemption” = “not in the KoG”? Or how do you allow that the church has legitimate functions outside of the KoG? (If that’s the case, then guess what: the CHURCH is in the intersection of the two kingdoms!!)

    I feel like these are all really just the same question…

  44. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim, you have two categories and only two. Kingdom of God and kingdom of man. Rube’s saying marriage doesn’t fit your categories. That’s all I was saying.

    My posts about “I wonder if there is such a writer” was simply a “rhetorical” device to generate curiosity, which Rube responded to appropriately, saying that he didn’t want to play my game. I was just having a little fun. So don’t interpret that as a shot at you.

    However, the shots you took at me were clear and overt, and I daresay, unfair, unfounded, and unsupported by what I said. Oh well.

  45. Echo_ohcE says:

    So that I might be clear: Zrim, please read the above link. I think it is a message you need to hear.

  46. Echo_ohcE says:

    DVD says: “Marriage and family are institutions common to believers and unbelievers alike. The church recognizes these institutions, commends them, and gives some general instructions about them, but it does not create them.”

    Echo said: I married my wife. The church does not make my marriage legitimate, nor does the state. I marry my wife on my own authority. The state only comes after the fall, marriage is before the fall.

    Zrim said: Echo, you’re a pagan.

    DVD says: “I would first of all wish my neighbor to put faith in Christ and believe the Scriptures. But even if she does not, I still would rather she be pro-life in her voting and personal behavior…”

    Zrim says: I don’t care about abortion.

    Echo says: O Zrim, how could you? Abortion is unjust.

    DVD says: “I still would rather she be pro-life in her voting and behavior…”

    Echo says: to vote for a pro-abortion candidate is crazy, because you’re voting for an enemy of justice to serve as an administrator of justice. I’m only appealing to natural law here.

    Zrim said: You’re a transformationalist Echo, on top of being a pagan. You’re a modern, still trying to get over being an Evangelical. Didn’t you grow up Assembly of God/Pentecostal? Yeah, you haven’t gotten it out of your system. Go read a book Echo, you’ve got a lot to learn.

    My conclusion: Zrim, you think that the kingdom of God/kingdom of man distinction is exactly the same thing as the church/state distinction. You are incorrect.

    Of course, if you want to instruct DVD, go ahead, but I’d warn you that that’s a really bad idea. I’ll give you a tip, and this is free: if you agree with DVD, you’re probably right.

    You don’t agree with DVD. I do. I know him, I’ve talked to him. I’ve been instructed by him and his colleagues. I’m not a complete moron. You and DVD are saying two different things, while DVD and I are saying the exact same thing. Your disagreement with me and claims to agreeing with DVD are simply wrong. I guess you’ll have to read him again.

    I know better than to think that you’ll ever admit to being wrong, so don’t bother getting all upset that you’re wrong. Everyone already knows you’re wrong. You don’t have to admit it. Just straighten up. Just change what you say in the future. Change your opinion.

    I am, in NO WAY saying that I’m smarter than you. I’m not. I’m not all that smart. I am in NO WAY saying that I’m better than you. I’m not. But DVD is ten times as smart as both of us put together. I’m not saying you should let ME instruct you, I’m saying you should let DVD instruct you. You already like him and look up to him, which proves you are very sharp, so all I’m saying is learn from him. You are not saying what he is saying.

    DVD is saying that the church didn’t create marriage. It is not an institution that is somehow subordinate to the church. It predates the fall. It transcends both church and state, which only exist after the fall and because of the fall. Without the fall, there’d be no need to have someone bear the sword to administer justice. Without the fall, there’d be no need for the church either, because there’d be no gospel to proclaim. But without the fall, there’d still be marriage, because the earth would still have to be populated. And it would still be a shadowy representation of the eschatology to come, namely of Christ and his people. The marriage of Christ and his people predates the fall. It was determined before the fall. Given the fall, it could only come about with the sacrifice of Christ. Without the fall, the sacrifice wouldn’t have been necessary, but the consummation of the creation still would have taken place. Marriage would have meant exactly the same thing, and functioned in exactly the same way as it does now if there were no such thing as the church and no such thing as the state.

    Again, I married my wife. No one did that for me.

    Kloosterman also conflates the church/state distinction with the KOG/KOM distinction as you do. That’s why he thinks he’s really got DVD when he brings up marriage, because clearly marriage cannot be shoved into either of the two categories of church or state, and everyone knows it.

    But when I say it, I’m a modernist, a transformationalist, a theonomist, and probably a homosexual who thinks televangelism is the wave of the future.

    And by the way, if you write a 10 page response about how I’m not really reformed but actually a Roman Catholic, and why don’t I just admit it – I’ll read about 3 lines of it and figure out that that’s what you’re doing, and I’ll stop reading it. So don’t waste your time.

  47. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    Re the blog at Stellman’s place…the faithful reader he makes reference to is me. I made the point in that post-proper of Jason’s in the comment section of his previous post (hope that makes sense). In other words, I am the one (also) saying you cannot seal off your ethics from scripture.

    Echo, you seem really very upset just about all the time. I don’t really know how to engage you in any constructive way. I say what I think and it just proves to be much too explosive with you. I am not sure why you keep coming at it when it seems sort of bad for your mental health. I don’t know why you waste energy with such a hopeless lout as me.

  48. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    I guess my attempts at nuance are unsatisfactory for you. I think you may be after easier answers than I could ever provide. But I will tell you the same thing I tell those who cannot get over Calvinism’s claims about God’s sovereignty and human duty: I don’t know how these things work or co-exist, but they do. Try being more comfortable with mystery.

    I was thinking about our conversation about how parents nurture the souls of children and how you didn’t like that idea either (I think that was under that post about education). You had a problem with unbelievers nurturing souls because of the absence of faith. I think our systems are informing us in the same way here. I would say yours is a low view of creation and leads you to question the “completeness” of everyone’s creation, including marriage and child-rearing. Our creation is compelete in the sense that is is “very good.” The problem is that it hasn’t entered its originally intended graduation because of sin; the problem isn’t our completeness but our sinfulness. Our creation is just fine in its nature, just horribly fallen. I think much of this also relates to that link I provided from RSC on nature/grace under our conversations about sanctification. I hear you having grace overwhelm nature, whereas Clark talks about the classic Protestant view that grace renews nature. I hear you under-realizing creation and over-realizing redemption.

  49. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    If you want to know why I get so upset, I’ll be happy to tell you.

    But first, I want to say I’m sorry it took so long to get back to this post. Finals and all that. You know.

    So, I’ll tell you. You never seem (I know never is a strong word, but I added “seem” to temper it) to me to simply disagree.

    Rather than saying, “I disagree” and making an intelligent argument that interacts with what I say, bringing up Scripture to support your argument, or quotes from a Confession or other to point out where exactly I have gone wrong – you speak in terms of, “Echo, you smell like a pietist, Evanjellyfish, transformationalist, theonomist wacko to me.”

    Does that make sense? Rather than having an intelligent disagreement, you simply throw out labels and accusations, without supporting them, without interacting with what I’ve said.

    This is like when a certain someone we know says things like, “You guys are all legalists. Let’s all sing ‘Spirit of the living God fall fresh on me.'” It’s the same kind of interaction. It’s absolutely maddening.

    And I have tried so many times to approach you modestly with a solid argument, with a reasonable approach, only to be met with more accusations. You have rendered me unable to be anything but defensive and upset. Don’t you realize that I have said this in all sincerity?

    Maybe I’m just hyper-sensitive. I don’t know. I don’t think of myself as very sensitive. The Marines made me pretty thick skinned. But I would ask you, do you care that you have made me feel this way? Whether I’m over-reacting or not, do you have anything at all to do with it?

    I don’t think you’re hopeless. You’ve got a lot of really good things to say. I mean that. I’m not just blowing smoke.

    But you don’t just treat me this way. You treat everybody this way.

    I just would like to see you prove something from Scripture or from the Confessions. Don’t just say “This sounds familiar.” Prove it wrong FIRST and then say that it sounds familiar as an illustration of the road someone will be going down if they bring their argument to its logical conclusion.

    I’ll give you an example. Let’s say someone doesn’t believe in paedobaptism. We would agree that such a person probably is a dispensationalist. But if you were to call such a person a dispensationalist, just because they aren’t a paedobaptist, you’ve made an unfair charge. There are lots of “reformed” baptists who understand covenant theology very well. It surprises me too, but that’s the fact. Are they inconsistent? Sure they are. But that doesn’t make them an Evangelical dispensationalist.

    If you want to say that my view of such and such is contra-confessional, go ahead. I’d love for you to prove it to me, so that I can correct myself, because I want to conform to the WCF.

    But let me assure you, I’m not a pietist. I’m probably one of the most zealous people for the gospel on the planet. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back. It’s true. Bruce knows me well and will acknowledge it I’m sure.

    I’m not a transformationalist. I’m not. I know a thing or two about what transformationalism is, and I can assure you that’s not what I believe. So let those charges rest. Don’t call me that again. Perhaps I have a view inconsistent with a proper, biblical, 2 kingdom approach. Please point it out to me, because I want to have a proper biblical 2 kingdom approach. But do not call me a transformationalist. I am not that.

    I am not an “evangelical”. I go to Westminster Seminary California, and chose it deliberately because of its stance on the gospel, among many other things. I happen to believe that it is far and away the best seminary on the planet. It is head and shoulders above whatever comes closest to it. I chose it knowing what I was getting into.

    Your charges are unfounded and untrue. So interact with my arguments, don’t just slander me because something I say sounds vaguely familiar to you. You might want to consider that not EVERYTHING outside of the Reformed faith is completely wrong. They are very wrong on almost everything – but not everything. They do pray to the same God we do – most of the time.

    Well, I thank you for this opportunity. I hope it’s not too sentimental. I’m not trying to be sentimental or anything like that. I only want one thing. I want you to see what you are doing. That’s it. I just want you to stop treating me and others this way. It’s awful.

    I like posting on this blog. I like interacting with the people on it.

  50. Zrim says:

    Hi Echo.

    I think it may be best to discuss this off list.

  51. Pingback: To Whom do These Quotes Belong? « The Confessional Outhouse

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