Pastors and marriage licenses

Why Would a Pastor Tell a Congregant to Get a Marriage License to Marry?

That is the 64,000 dollar question of the hour.

American Christianity has quietly, meekly, and wrongly – not to mention disgustingly – gone along with homosex marriage. I have heard from countless couples over the last year who have been told by their pastor or other church leaders that “unless you get a state marriage license to marry, you are living in sin.”

Now here’s an amazing thing. If you get a marriage license from the State – which two men or two women can get to show they are married – you are married, but if you don’t get a marriage license from the State – which two men or two women can get to show they are married – you’re not truly married and you’re living in sin.

And this brings us to the answer of the question posed above. The reason pastors tell their congregants to get marriage licenses is because they are truly Statists. They will accommodate themselves theologically, rationally, and ethically to do whatever the State commands.

If I may, pastors in America are statist whores. If the State says jump, they simply ask “how high?” If the State told them to march their congregation over the edge of a cliff, their only concern would be if the Supreme Court had affirmed the law and all the paperwork was in order.

In the past, the ethic of Christianity has been one of confrontation with the State. Their love and fealty for Christ would not allow them to indifferently go along with the unjust or immoral actions of the State. Christians would blunt the lawless actions of the State. Rein in its tyranny. Preserve righteousness and liberty.

The whole nation benefited from their willingness to suffer at the hands of the State or be inconvenienced by it.

Now, the new ethic seems to be figuring out how to spread their legs wider to accommodate the ever-growing immoral and unjust actions of the State. The main concern is protecting themselves. Remaining comfortable. Not sacrificing or being inconvenienced.

The Lord addressed such whoredom through the prophet Ezekiel this way:

“Then the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love,
And they defiled her with their immorality;
So she was defiled by them, and alienated herself from them.
She revealed her harlotry and uncovered her nakedness.
Then I alienated Myself from her.” (Ez. 23:17,18)

I attended a prominent scholarly evangelical gathering several months ago where they at least addressed this matter of marriage licenses from the State. The conclusions they proffered were troubling though.

Their main concern was pastors sullying their hands by being part of licenses that two men or two women can get. Their solution was to adopt the European form of marriage – where one gets married twice – once at church and once at court. This way the pastors wouldn’t be involved in marriage licenses.

The whole time I sat stunned; thinking, so you (pastors) don’t want your hands sullied by such licenses, but you have no problem throwing your congregants to the filth by making them obtain the very piece of paper you wish to avoid?

Sadly, here is an opportunity to stand true to Christ in a practical way and pastors have instead decided to play the harlot.

Pastors could demonstrate to the world their love and fealty for Christ by refusing participation in the state marriage license process. Such action is important for demonstrating to the world that Christians are a set apart, distinct people.

As Peter wrote: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

When the Church stands for what is biblically right and in defense of God’s created order by refusing to go along with the immoral actions of the State regarding this matter of homosexual marriage, it exposes the State’s lawlessness for the insanity it is; helps men realize not all believe such nonsense; raises a standard so men know it is wrong; blunts the further denigration of marriage and family; and demonstrates love for Christ and neighbor.

Pastors should not be telling congregants that they are in sin if they don’t have a marriage license from the State, rather, they should be marrying couples without a state marriage license.

When the Church’s faithfulness to Christ causes confrontation with the State, the whole nation benefits from our willingness to suffer at the hands of the State or be inconvenienced by it because such faithfulness preserves righteousness and liberty in a nation. This is the history of the Church.

Matthew Trewhella is the pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church (
He and his wife, Clara, have eleven children and reside in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. You can read some of his other writings on the state marriage license at


  1. Bill EvansSeptember 11, 2016

    The willingness of what has evidently become the ‘state’s church’ to demand compliance, ignores the plain meaning of a license. Namely, permission to do what one otherwise would not be permitted to do. Plus by their gutless abasesence, they have agreed to allow Caesar The morality or immorality of a union between a consenting man and woman. No longer can they say, “what God has joined together let no man put asunder.” A new solemn pronouncement must be admitted, ” what Caesar has first allowed to be joined together, (to which God must presumably acquiesce) let no man put asunder.”

  2. Ted R. WeilandSeptember 11, 2016

    Among other things, this originates from an abominable interpretation of Romans 13.

    Even Christians who champion Romans 13 for noble reasons, often fall short of expounding it correctly. They’re often heard declaring that, as Christians, were obligated to keep only the laws that comport with Yahweh’s law. While this is true, especially as it pertains to secular governments, it overlooks that the government Paul depicts is one that’s established exclusively on Yahweh’s perfect law and altogether righteous judgments. As such, laws contrary to Yahweh’s are never a concern for the Christian because such laws do not exist under a Romans 13 government.

    Paul instead provides us with the template for the establishment of biblical governments under the New Covenant.

    For more, see my current blog series “Ten Reasons Romans 13 is Not About Secular Government,” beginning at

  3. BarbaraDecember 26, 2016

    Do you know of any other pastors with the same believ of not having a state license?

  4. RaineFebruary 2, 2017

    My husband and I were not married by the state just by ordained we have a marriage certificate but we wanted to get married in the church if you are being married under god then why do the priest refuse to marry us in church

  5. I have been a student of law for more than the past 20 years and the licensing of anything is unconstitutional. Licensing is permission by the State to perform this or that. Prior to the American Civil War, all marriages were performed and recorded in the family Bibles, but it was in 1868 that everything changed. I have all those details, but will spare them for now. In essence, the United States changed from being a republic to a corporation and the first act were to amend the Constitution with the 14th Amendment, which changed everyone in the United States from their respective State Citizenship to U.S. citizens. Now please take careful note that “State” Citizenship is spelled with a capital “C” and U.S. citizen is spelled with a small “c”. The difference is not as subtle as one might expect, because in law words mean everything, as in crossing “t”s and dotting “i”s. The capital “C” means that human being is a sovereign and the small “c” is a slave. This was just the beginning of the deterioration of our status as “Citizens” and as human beings with rights from God was changed through both the Birth Certificate and the Social Security Number, for which in some circles represents the “Mark of the Beast”, but I have reserved some judgment on that aspect, because a more overt version of the “Mark of the Beast” will be instituted halfway during the Great Tribulation. I apologize for going off into tangents, but all of the aforementioned are all tied together and this is the short version, in order to spare the lengthy sorted details, for which I have recently published a book titled, “What Difference Does It Make?!

  6. ShawnJune 1, 2017

    Thank you for this article! This is what I’ve believed, but went with state license because I’ve never heard a pastor say it, and rarely anyone else

  7. TSMarch 14, 2019

    Oh as for myself I would agree with all of the above. With that said……
    Why would a Pastor, preacher etc get a State issued license to preach the Gospel?
    It seems the same principles and truth would apply to a piece of paper issued by the State to preach. And It seems possible If not probable were one to dig deep enough the same truths and principles would apply to a so called obedient church having a 501c corporation so as to avoid paying taxes? Seems any of those practices are at risk of having to chose one master over the other? Just saying…..


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