A Gore church has given one of its members an ultimatum to marry her de facto partner or leave him:
A 72-year old Southland woman has had her 30-year church membership revoked because she lives in a de facto relationship.
The Calvin Community Church, a Presbyterian church in Gore, has revoked the membership of one of its long-term members because her relationship with a man she lives with was “at variance with what is expected of a member of Calvin Community Church”.
The woman said she was told “out of the blue” she had to either marry her long-term partner, leave him, or no longer be a church member.
She was still able to attend the church, but she has declined to do so because “they have discussed my private life around the table”. . .
The woman and her partner, who have both been married previously, have been together for eight years and have been living together in Gore for three years.
As a Christian, she said she would prefer to be married to align with her beliefs.
But her partner was not ready and it was not anyone’s place to force someone into marriage, she said.
“There is only one judge and that is God. Why break up a happy relationship. I’m very happy living with him, I’m too late in life to go through a relationship upset.”
“I’ve thought about it and prayed about it and I’m happy with my relationship.”
Elders at the Gore church disagreed.
In a letter to the distraught woman, senior pastor Keith Hooker said those who wished to be counted as members were responsible for upholding the church’s standards in accordance with scripture.
It was the church’s view living unmarried with a long-term partner did not meet those requirements.
“You have said that your partner is not willing to marry you. Although being married is outside of your control it is, however, your decision to remain in the relationship,” his letter says.
“While we respect your right to live in a de facto relationship, it is quite clearly at variance with what is expected of a member of Calvin Community Church.” . .
Cohabitating without a marriage certificate used to be called living in sin.
This church still believes it is.
She’s still welcome to worship but not be a member.
It’s the church’s right to do that – is it right to do it?