Why I Gave Up My License to Solemnize Marriages
On October 31st, 2016, I was informed by the Marriage Office of the Province of Ontario that I am no longer credentialed to perform marriages. It was a result of my voluntary request, via FEB Central, that my authorization to solemnize marriages in Ontario be withdrawn and cancelled — request granted. And yes, I am still an ordained minister in the Fellowship.
Why did I do this? With the broadening definition of marriage in Canada I find it increasingly difficult to serve as a provincial civil servant. Every time I say, “by the power invested in me by the Province of Ontario, I pronounce you husband and wife,” and sign the requisite papers I feel this unease in serving the state, especially when it has defined marriage outside of what I believe the Scriptures teach. In the past, as ordained pastors, we have happily served as civil servants when the church’s traditional view of marriage (heterosexual, monogamous) was the law; not so now.
As a result, I concluded that it was time to turn in my number and let the marriage commissioners do their work. As pastors we can still provide counselling and officiate church weddings once the marriage documents have been signed.
To be clear, this is a matter of personal conscience for me. It does not reflect an official position of Heritage College and Seminary, and many of us here at the school will legitimately choose to remain credentialed.
Marriage is sacred and clearly defined in Scripture. Perhaps my quiet — and certainly unnoticed by the higher powers — protest will be a tiny voice affirming this sacred and foundational institution for establishing God’s will on the earth.
— David Barker is Professor of OT and Pastoral Studies at Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, ON. He has pastored Fellowship churches in London, Kitchener, and elsewhere. He presently serves on the Fellowship National Marriage and Human Sexuality Policy Task Force.