Do you think the state will soon require churches to perform same-sex weddings?
THOMAS: The church is not tied to the state, so the state can’t mandate what the church does, and the state cannot mandate what the church believes. If it came to a point where the state was insisting that individual churches perform homosexual marriages, we would be much further down the line than we are right now.
Is that possible? Yes, I suppose it’s possible. But at the minute, unless you’re a church that’s affiliated with the state, such as the Church of England, the Anglican Church, it’s not here yet. In the Anglican Church, Parliament would dictate the rules of marriage. Therefore, there would be a direct way of the state enforcing that upon the church.
My church is a Presbyterian church. It’s independent of the state, so the state has no business telling us whom we may marry. The state cannot dictate marriages as we now perform them between a man and a woman, and there are marriages that we wouldn’t perform in our church. I wouldn’t marry a believer to an unbeliever, and the state has no business interfering.
Now, the state may attempt to interfere, but it has no warrant or basis in law for doing that. Marriage is, first of all, a civil ordinance. Technically, that marriage takes place at the level of the state and the church adds its blessing to it. But it’s easy to become apocalyptic about this, and I don’t think that we’re quite there yet. Maybe R.C. has a different view.
SPROUL: I agree with that. I think there are some serious signs of danger, and there’s an increasing militancy for the lobbyist to try to make the state force same-sex marriage on the church. But as yet they haven’t done it, although I think we need to be alert to attempts that will come our way.
This is a transcript of Derek Thomas’s and R.C. Sproul’s answers from our Theology in Dialogue event and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.