Speaking of Chaplains

The authors of the Marriage Pledge are arguing that Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic) ministers can no longer participate in civil wedding ceremonies because the new definition of marriage compromises the Christian one — never mind that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not actually agree on the definition of Christian marriage (sacrament or not?). They may have a point, though some people (more to come) worry that this is a retreat to a form of cultural isolation made plausible only by fundamentalists.

But since the churches that minister in the United States already supply military chaplains to work in settings where the definition of religion is hardly compatible with either the Protestant or Roman Catholic understanding of the faith, why here and why now? Isn’t it the case that whenever the church collaborates with the state the former winds up in some roll as collaborator?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all happy as a citizen (as opposed to a Christian) with the new definition of marriage. Robbie George’s (et al) book on marriage makes pretty clear what stake the broader society has in marriage as the union between one man and one woman. But at the same time, marriage has been debased for years. Anyone can actually perform a wedding ceremony, as long as he or she files the right paperwork with American Marriage Ministries. Here is how to become ordained with AMM:

1. Become an Ordained Minister

American Marriage Ministries is a non-profit, interfaith and non-denominational church, with the mission to ensure that all people have the right to perform marriage. We offer ordination to all people, regardless of religious background or spiritual philosophy, that agree with our three tenets:

All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.
It is the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage.
All people have the right to solemnize marriage.
Applying to become an AMM Minister is not a declaration of exclusive faith, it is an act of allowing our tenets to coexist with personal beliefs. We encourage people of all backgrounds to find community within the simple tenets of our faith.

About Our Ordination

The AMM Ordination is free, requires no special course of study, and takes only a moment. Our goal is to help people on their path to performing marriage for friends and family.

A wedding is a momentus spiritual event, but the legal act of solemnizing marriage involves nothing more than signing a piece of paper. We believe that completion of this legal act does not necessitate the time, expense, and academia of a traditional seminarial degree. The act of solemnizing marriage historically belonged exclusively to the people; it is only recently that marriage has become the domain of the state.

Our ordination is informed by these facts – we exist to protect the right of all people to solemnize marriage. If you have been asked by people close to you to solemnize their marriage, we believe you have the right to.

So what should we do? Instead of telling the rest of society how to think about marriage and expecting the state to back us up, maybe officers and ministers in each Christian communion should work to guarantee that their congregants know the meaning and duties of marriage. That strategy might be especially valuable for those ministers in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome.

2 thoughts on “Speaking of Chaplains

  1. “If you have been asked by people close to you to solemnize their marriage, we believe you have the right to.”

    I would not trust the ordination of any organization that ends its sentences with a preposition. To what is America coming?


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