Posted by: smstrouse | November 5, 2011

The 72-Day Marriage: Time to Separate Church from State?

I have to feel sorry for Pastor Joel Johnson – a little.  Johnson is the senior pastor at Westwood Community Church in Excelsior, MN.  He’s also the pastor who presided over the marriage of Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian in August. When Kim filed for divorce after just 72 days, I couldn’t help remembering a seminary professor who explained why he never officiated at weddings: “I refuse to preside over a potential disaster.”

I’ve had my own experiences of presiding over what would turn out to be disasters, so I have some sympathy for Pastor Johnson. To be fair, he didn’t just come out of nowhere. The Humphries family has attended Westwood for 10 years, and Kris had been part of the church’s youth ministry when he was younger. In his announcement to the congregation, Johnson said, “The couple requested a God-honoring, Christ-centered ceremony and gave me the freedom to share a message that upholds God’s perspective on love that leads to a great marriage.” Kathy Lee Gifford reportedly said on her TV show that it was one of the most spiritual weddings she’s ever attended.

So the guy gave it his best shot. But in spite of it all: boom! Another celebrity marriage crashes and burns. Along with many others. Celebrities certainly aren’t the only ones who walk down the aisle into disaster.

Maybe this 72-day wonder will give some traction to separating the civil ceremony (the legal, state-required part of it) from the church ceremony (the spiritual blessing). I say let’s take clergy out of the state’s business of licensing marriages. Instead, we could provide blessing services for those who really want a spiritual aspect to their marriage.

This in no way negates my support of legalizing same-sex marriage. I’ve officiated at sex-sex weddings where the couple’s been together for as long as Kim Kardashian’s been alive! I continue to stand by my support of the right of every couple to get married – or not. But how about we take the church (and the clergy) out of these 3-ring circuses , whether they’re celebrities or the bridezilla who comes a’church-shopping to our door?

Isn’t it past time to bring this idea into the marriage debate?


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