Based on Romans 13:1-2, if marriages between same sex partners are legal (in the state / country), would the church perform the rites/ritual? Furthermore, on what grounds could they NOT perform the ritual?

Romans 13:1-2 (KJV)

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

(for further clarification, a different translation)

Romans 13:1-2 (NIV)

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

There appears to be some who are misreading the question. Please follow this example:

If a person, who is Catholic (baptized at birth, attends church regularly, etc) either becomes homosexual or embraces their suppressed sexual identity, decides to become married. The couple would like to be married in the church where they grew up, which happens to be in a state where these marriages are legal. On what grounds would the church deny performing the ritual - while keeping in mind Romans 13:1-2?

cou·ple noun 1. two individuals of the same sort considered together.

Please note that I'm not asserting that the church should. I am indifferent to the issue as a heterosexual, non-Catholic, non-orthodox Christian. I am asking on what grounds could they say, "no".

  • You may not like the subject, but that's no reason to -1 it. Seriously, this is a good question about the Catholic church. Aug 20, 2014 at 14:14
  • 3
    @TheFreemason: I didn't -1 because I don't like the subject, I -1 because the question shows absolutely no research effort.
    – Flimzy
    Aug 20, 2014 at 14:27
  • 2
    @TheFreemason: Perhaps you would be better with a question asking how Catholics interpret Romans 13:1-2, rather than jumping to a rather ridiculous conclusion about how they presumably "ought" to interpret it in relation to homosexual marriage.
    – Flimzy
    Aug 20, 2014 at 14:29
  • If this is discussing the issue rather than the question, we could take it up in chat - I'm there right now. Aug 21, 2014 at 17:35
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Caleb
    Aug 21, 2014 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


The Catholic Church understands these verses in the context both of the rest of the chapter and of statements made about the responsibility of public authorities in the rest of the Bible.

The New American Bible, Revised Edition, reads for Romans 13:1–2:

Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.

The chapter has a note to it, however, and the note references the Book of Wisdom, chapter 6. In particular:

Hear, therefore, kings, and understand; learn, you magistrates of the earth’s expanse! ...

Because, though you were ministers of his kingdom, you did not judge rightly, and did not keep the law, nor walk according to the will of God, terribly and swiftly he shall come against you, because severe judgment awaits the exalted. For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy, but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.

The interpretation the Church gives to this (see the note to the Romans text) is that

believers who render obedience to the governing authorities are obeying the one who is highest in command. At the same time, it is recognized that Caesar has the responsibility to make just ordinances and to commend uprightness; cf. Wis 6:4–21. That Caesar is not entitled to obedience when such obedience would nullify God's prior claim to the believers' moral decision becomes clear in the light of the following verses.

(emphasis added)

Thus, even if public authority commanded that every religious institution perform same-sex marriages, if the Church believed that such a command contravened the will of God, it would refuse to do so.


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