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Pastors divided on when to perform weddings
David Roach, Baptist Press
August 08, 2011
3 MIN READ TIME

Pastors divided on when to perform weddings

Pastors divided on when to perform weddings
David Roach, Baptist Press
August 08, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — American Protestant pastors have widely

varying standards for when they will and will not perform wedding ceremonies,

according to a new survey by LifeWay Research.

The survey of 1,000 randomly selected Protestant pastors found that a majority

(58 percent) will perform weddings for couples they know are living together.

Nearly a third (31 percent) will not, and 10 percent are not sure.

The survey’s results, published in the summer edition of LifeWay’s Facts and

Trends magazine, also found that only five percent of pastors will not perform

a marriage ceremony if the bride or groom has been divorced. The majority (61

percent) will perform a ceremony for a divorced person “depending on the reason

for the divorce” while 31 percent will perform a ceremony for a divorced person

“regardless of the reason for the divorce.”

“Marriage is a much-debated topic today and we wanted to see how Protestant

pastors handled marriage requests,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay

Research. “Like the churches they serve, their standards for whom they will

perform marriages vary greatly.”

When it comes to cohabitating couples, pastors who consider themselves mainline

are more likely to perform weddings then those who consider themselves

evangelical.

In response to the question, “Will you perform a marriage ceremony for a couple

whom you know is living together?” 68 percent of mainline pastors say yes

compared with 57 percent of evangelicals. Twenty-four percent of mainline

pastors and 34 percent of evangelicals say no.

A minister’s level of education also reveals differences in pastors’

willingness to perform marriage ceremonies for couples who are living together.

A full 62 percent of pastors with at least a master’s degree will marry

cohabitating couples while only 52 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or

less will perform weddings for couples living together before marriage.

Twenty-nine percent of pastors with at least a master’s degree will not perform

such ceremonies compared with 36 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or

less.

Mainline and evangelical pastors divide again on the issue of performing

marriages for divorced people. In response to the question, “When asked to do

so, will you perform a marriage ceremony if the man or woman has been divorced?”:

  • 41 percent of mainline pastors say, “Yes, regardless of the reason,” compared

    with 29 percent of evangelicals.

  • 55 percent of mainline and 65 percent of evangelical pastors answer, “Yes,

    depending on the reason.”

  • Only two percent of mainline pastors and five percent of evangelical pastors

    answer, “No.”

The poll was conducted in October 2010

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville,

Ky.)