> Another thing that has concerned me for awhile...how does one get married in > the House Church since there are no "ordained" ministers or any other sort of > leadership who can be delegated the responsibility of marrying persons. I say > all this from what I believe to be the "law" in Texas (if not all states) that > noone can marry two people without the express assignment from the group to > which they belong. The captain of a ship at sea, the Fire Chief or Police > Chief or any other licensed pastor, rabbi, priest or officer in a legally > formed organization can marry with the blessing of the State...all other > marriages are considered "common-law" and have certain waiting periods before > they are considered legal.
The short answer to this question about marriage is that, at least in the U.S., it is surprisingly easy to satisfy the legal requirements involved for a house church to designate someone to perform marriages. (Thanks to the First Amendment!) In general, you just have to tell whatever state agency does the licensing that you are an "ordained" representative of your religious body. At SCC, we lay hands on whoever is going to perform the ceremony and ordain him or her for that particular purpose. So far, we have had people from SCC qualify legally to marry people in Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey (I think), and probably some other places. Another route to go is to simply go to a justice of the peace to satisfy the legal requirement, and then have a house church ceremony to celebrate the marriage.
The last suggestions listed by Joann, have worked very well for us. Though I have "registered ordinations" both in Oregon and Wisconsin, we married our daughters and a number of other couples (both in Brazil and the USA) by "legally" having the marriages performed/registered through a civil authority, then we performed our own celebration/ceremony wherever was convienient. Sometimes it took place in gardens, sometimes local clubs, sometimes in parks. Very lovely, very godly, and always very honoring to our Lord.
The REALLY important issues are what happens in their marriages AFTER the ceremonies! The place and manner is actually insignificant, as long as it is done to honor God's plan of marriage (one man with one woman).
The question and answer related directly to statutory marriage.
A statutory marriage is where the government becomes the principle authority within that marriage. The couple obtains a marriage license and an authorized person administers the joining together of two or more people, not necessary of the opposite sex. In my humble opinion, this is a perversion.
When such a union is disolved, it must be done under a prenuptial written by the state, unless a private prenuptial or post nuptial agreement has been substituted. God and the church authority have no say so in that type of dissolution.
The option is not common law marriage, which varies by state but by holy matrimony.
Holy matrimony is conducted by a body of believers, who accept responsibility for lifetime counseling of the union they bless. They are joined in partnership under God and subject to God and may only be done for genuine Christ Followers.
The couple have signed a written agreement to be subject to the chosen body of believers who have a marriage preservation plan, which begins with premarital counseling and training. The couple is not ever united in marriage until has completed this training, filled out a declaration of marriage, a buy/sell agreement in the event of dissolution, a will for both parties, an agreement to add a codicil annually with the help of the home church body of believers.
They need training on raising children. If there are pre-existing children for one or both parties, then extensive counseling must take place before unification to reduce the chance of dissolution. Agreements for authority over the children must be established before the body of believers can bless the union in holy matrimony.
Since the church only performs holy matrimony, no same sex unions can be performed.
A pastor has no business unity a couple under the authority of the state. That is stepping outside the authority of the auspices of the church. Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.
Already, some states are prosecuting businesses who refuse to do business with same sex couples. Soon, incorporated churches with have that mandate and many churches are likely to accept the rule of law.
Further, I would not suggest organizing any type of church under the 501c3 or 501c4 provision of the IRS, giving them jurisdiction over that church body. Further, I would NOT incorporate the church body.
You cannot serve Christ and the State at the same time.