Heidelminicast Q&A: On Mental Images Of Christ And Whether The Family Is Sacred Or Secular

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  1. Dr. Clark,

    Thank you for considering my suggestion, I would find it very edifying and beneficial in thinking about Genesis 1 and 2 if you did a series and it would give me a helpful resource to share with people who often like I was, are hearing of this for the first time and don’t know where to start looking into it.

    God bless!

  2. Interesting question about marriage in light of the current controversy about attending a trans wedding. Some are of the opinion that Christians should not attend unbelievers weddings either. I believe these are two separate issues.

    • JP,

      You’re right. There is a difference. Marriage is a creational institution (“it was not so in the beginning”), thus it is for believers and unbelievers. The Anabaptists, however, don’t have a category for nature/creation because grace (redemption) wipes it out. Thus, they (and those influenced by them, which includes most of the 60 million American evangelicals) don’t have a way to connect marriage to unbelievers.

      • Dr. Clark, I agree with you about the legitimacy of marriage between two unbelievers. But I’d be interested in knowing how you would respond to a discussion I witnessed at a URCNA classical examination of a candidate for ordination who was asked a related but not quite identical question.

        He was first asked the normal questions we would expect on how he would prepare covenant sons and daughters of the church for marriage, and then some questions on how he would deal with church members becoming romantically interested in people who are members of other denominations that were officially Reformed but problematic (the implication was members of the local CRC but that wasn’t stated), and then questions on members of his church becoming romantically interested in non-Reformed evangelicals. His answers were pretty much what would be expected. He stated that he wouldn’t conduct a marriage of a church member to an unbeliever or a broad evangelical unless the unbeliever showed clear evidence of conversion, or the broad evangelical had come to Reformed convictions, and in either case, proved that by joining a confessionally Reformed church, making profession of faith following the in-depth and detailed personal examination into doctrine and life that should be done by a consistory when receiving someone from outside confessionally Reformed circles into church membership.

        But he then made what might be considered an “unforced error” by saying that in some sense, unbelievers belong together, and he wasn’t sure he would have a problem with a marriage of two unbelievers.

        I don’t remember all the comments made at classis but they were not favorable. His comments didn’t derail his ordination (he was, after all, well-known to the local pastors) but he received a very strong admonition that if he started marrying unbelievers, he would get a reputation in town for being “Marryin’ Sam.” (Younger people may not recognize the Li’l Abner reference to a travelling hillbilly preacher who will marry anyone who pays him money for the wedding.)

        I live in the Ozarks and I am very much aware that “Marryin’ Sam” was not an invention of the comic strip. They’re real, and they’re a real problem.

        My personal opinion, having seen the damage done by real-life “Marryin’ Sams,” is to say that unbelievers need to go get married in the county courthouse or some other secular venue, not in a church ceremony, and the officiant should be a justice of the peace or comparable official authorized by the applicable state laws to conduct marriages, not by an ordained minister.

        In other words, there is a very real difference between the validation that the church gives to a marriage after what should be an extensive counseling process, and what the secular authorities do, who require nothing from the two parties to the marriage beyond being of legal age to obtain a marriage license.

        Yes, marriage is a creation ordinance. No, we’re not Roman Catholics and we don’t believe marriage is a sacrament. But Reformed ministers should refuse to conduct some types of marriages, while recognizing that if the couple reject his warnings and go get married anyway by secular authorities, they are validly married in the eyes of both the civil law and the church.

        Obviously gay marriage is a different issue. A marriage between two men or two women is not a marriage that should be recognized by the church. I’d argue the same for a second marriage of a man and woman following an unbiblical divorce, but I recognize the issue there is messier, and not at the same level as two men or two women.

        • Hi Darrell,

          I know you addressed Dr. Clark, but I just wanted to chime in and say that in my former days as a Baptist, I had a pastor who had no problem at all marrying two unbelievers (and did so from time to time to the confusion of some congregants); his rationale was that he was authorized by the state to marry, so I think he might’ve been suggesting that he wasn’t marrying them with his pastor hat on but as a citizen of the state, authorized by the state to officiate weddings and he was doing so in that capacity—not as a minister of the gospel.

          In the end, I agree with you: let the state take care of the weddings of unbelievers so as not to blur lines and cause unnecessary confusion.

          Nevertheless, I thought the example of my former pastor is interesting because many evangelical Baptists have an insufficient understanding of nature/common/secular (only of grace and special revelation, as Dr. Clark already alluded above), so he was trying to uphold those distinctions at least but perhaps not in the wisest of ways (something tells me his rationale wouldn’t have flown in the URC classis you were at, 🙂).

          Blessings in Christ,

          • Hi Brandon,


            Our church order does not permit me to conduct a wedding between two unbelievers or between a believer and an unbeliever but civil weddings are legitimate weddings and that is what I would encourage those such circumstances to pursue. I’m not sure why, as matter of logic, unbelievers want clergy to conduct their wedding.


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