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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Counseling Situations......and Marriage

This article posted by JT highlights an email written by D.A. Carson to a young church planter. The church planter contacted Dr. Carson asking for advice on some pastoral concerns in his church: situations in which couples were living together/some had kids prior to conversion, and then one or both have since become Christians. Read the article here.

The article is insightful and a wonderful case study for pastoral ministry. Reading it made me think of a couple of questions to throw out to you. Think about a comment......maybe we can get a discussion going.

  1. As the cultural debate continues about marriage/civil unions, this thought crosses my mind: What if Christians got "married" legally before a civil magistrate at the beginning of the engagement? The engagement process would involve all the legal ramifications in a legal union–property, name change, social security, etc., but the engagement period would continue to be for marital preparation (lived out the same ways as it is currently). It would be kind of like a betrothal period. Then at the end of the engagement time (pre-marital counseling, preparation for the wedding day AND foundations for a lasting marriage) the couple joined in marriage before the Lord and community of witnesses. What could we affirm in this? What would be the challenges to doing something like? How would this be a witness to the world in light of same sex marriages, civil unions, and the high divorce rates? [one objection immediately would arise: well, we are already "married" so we no longer need to remain sexually celibate."]
  2. Considering the circumstances mentioned in the article: how would it be handled/how would you handle a situation where a same sex couple (who have kids) come to know the Lord? Do you encourage them to split up? Do you encourage them to remain together but celibate? If so, how does the gospel speak into this situation? How would we help the family unit (albeit unconventional) clarify the new identity and dynamic to the children?
Mostly questions–I only have thoughts, but no answers. What do you think?


  1. Your thoughts on civil marriage before congregation marriage sounds excellent. I dont think the immediate first statement is "We are married/Let's have sex." Any couple who chose this route would already know that they are not spiritually married, which is the qualifier for consummation.

    As for number two, that question is too stuffed with many moral, ethical and social issues to be addressed here. That is more of one of our historical "lets sit down for 4 hours and debate" sessions in Albright, Phillip. (Yes, 2 L's)

  2. thanks for the post ex-chancellor (shouldn't that title be chancellor emeritis?). i miss those 4 hour sessions.

  3. I think, as usual, you're right. Glad you are well. I read daily and enjoy your reading and contemplating what you have to say.

  4. to get a discussion going, perhaps...why do you think my first suggestion is a good suggestion?

    you are quite right about the complexities of the second. any thoughts?