I could care less if Christian clergy committed to the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage take the Marriage Pledge and decline to act as agents of the state by signing marriage certificates. It’s their privilege if they want to signal their disapproval of a polity’s redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
But it’s going to be a little tricky for them to maintain their commitment to “disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties,” as the Pledge states. Suppose a man and a woman show up at church asking to be married despite the fact that they haven’t divorced the spouses they previous married in civil ceremonies. Does “disengagement” oblige the pastor to say, “Since I don’t recognize the state’s conception of marriage, I’ll be happy to marry y’all”?
Then there’s the case of a couple previously married and divorced by civil authority who convert to Catholicism and ask for a nuptial Mass. R.R. Reno, who’s been pushing the Marriage Pledge over at First Things, is a Catholic convert who’s presumably given some thought to this possibility. If he can persuade his church to withdraw its recognition of civil remarriage in a same-sex marriage jurisdiction, he’s come up with a slick, if partial, resolution to the its neuralgic debate over whether to permit Communion for the divorced and remarried.
If, according to Catholic lights, such a marriage is a nullity, then there’s no reason to withhold Communion from someone who has remarried after having one. Perhaps opponents of Communion for the divorced and remarried should beware the Marriage Pledge.