Classis Georgetown proposes to Synod 2019 (in Overture 14 on page 518 of the Agenda) that a study committee be appointed to examine the morality and advisability of Ecclesiastical (Non-Civil) marriages. It is acknowledged that the authority regarding marriage has vacillated between church and state for hundreds of years but today it is clearly under the authority of the state which both authorizes marriages and maintains records regarding them.
The overture lists a number of reasons why this might be beneficial but the primary reason given is that for couples considering marriage, joining in wedlock also means joining their individual finances and having an ecclesiastical marriage only will avoid paying income taxes to the governments. This is primarily directed to seniors and one of the consideration is that if one of the partners later becomes ill and needs significant care, the other partner's finances are in jeopardy. How is that situation different from similar burdens in a first marriage? Where is a the commitment of "for better or for worse?"
Some Muslim men use this deceitful practice in order to marry more than one wife (with the full knowledge and participation of their Iman, an ecclesiastical marriage is performed, not registered and not a civil marriage). The CRC in reverse situations currently will deny the state's recognition of a couple's legal marriage if that does not conform to the church's view. We must be consistent in church policy and not cherry pick our positions as convenient.
The Bible clearly teaches in Matt. 22:21 to "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's" and we all know what that means. If in doubt, see Romans 13 which is undeniably clear and starting at verse 6, scripture there speaks specifically about paying taxes. In our respective democratic governments on both sides of the border, we recognize that although we may not agree with them on all items, they are the recognized civil authority. We have the right and the privilege to openly work to change legislation that we fell is unjust but we must never become an agent to covertly undermine that legal authority.
I urge all delegates to Synod 2019 to defeat this overture.
Allen (Al) Brander