Oct 21, 2014

Committed to marriage, whatever that means

Donald and Evelyn Knapp believe in "traditional Christian marriages," though a lawsuit filed in federal court last week on their behalf calls into question whether that phrase holds any meaning beyond "not gay."

Both Pentecostal ministers ordained in the Foursquare Gospel church, the Knapps run a for-profit wedding chapel called the Hitching Post in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Standing across from the Kootenai County courthouse, the Hitching Post has been facilitating weddings for 95 years and is, according to one local reporter, something of a Coeur d'Alene institution, "right up there with the famous Hudson's Hamburgers."

... the case of the Knapps and the Hitching Post presents a good example of how the fight to defend marriage from "redefinition" can result in emptying the definition of most of its content. This is a fight about the meaning of marriage, after all. The Knapps themselves aren't interested in the finer points of corporate law or First Amendment jurisprudence. They're just committed to marriage. Specifically, the Knapps believe it’s their business to offer traditional Christian marriages for a fee.

Donald Knapp has consistently said this is his issue: "I cannot unite people in a way that I believe would conflict with what the Bible teaches."

Which means what? What is a traditional Christian marriage, as offered by the Hitching Post?

According to the company’s website there are two wedding packages, each of which includes a minister, music, a venue for the wedding, use of a changing room, and legal documentation. The whole thing costs under $90. Six to 10 digital photos cost $12 extra. The Hitching Post offers three venues for the wedding: a chapel, mostly free of religious symbols but adorned with flowers and foliage; a "Western Room," with cowboy-boot-and-gun decor; and a "Victorian Sitting Room," which also has flowers and foliage.

The ministers will also perform weddings at ski resorts and outdoor locations.

Read the entire essay, "Does Traditional Christian Marriage Just Mean 'Not Gay'?" at Religion Dispatches.