The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Kennedy, held that the Equal Protection Clause requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a same-sex marriage entered into lawfully in another state. I’m sure you heard. Now, you may be wondering, how does this affect me and my church?
Before we go too far, allow me to share a word from Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), as a hopeful reminder that our focus is, and must remain, on the Kingdom:
There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.
“We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.”
In his article What Your Church Needs to Know – and Do – About the Court’s Marriage Ruling posted on erlc.com, Erik Stanley reiterates, “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
That being said, there are some precautionary steps churches should take to protect themselves from future law suits. Your church should:
- Update its Statement of Faith on the issues of marriage, human sexuality, and gender.
- Ensure its Facilities Usage Policy is revised to only allow uses consistent with the Church’s religious beliefs.
The ERLC offers several tools to help you review these documents as well as understand more of what this court ruling means for you.
- Visit erlc.com for sample language of the statement of faith and the facilities usage.
- Review the Protecting Your Ministry manual also for sample language of the statement of faith and the facilities usage (found on the ERLC website).
- Read Light Magazine at http://erlc.com/erlc/light for top articles like “Marriage Redefined.” (This can be read free online, by downloading a free PDF version, or by purchasing a print copy.)
- Visit erlc.com/scotus for resources such as bulletin inserts, articles, podcasts, and videos.
“In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, the ERLC has prepared these resources to help you understand this new reality and to do faithful, gospel ministry,” posts the ERLC. As Penn-Jersey Baptists, continue to remember our mission of Fostering Spiritual Transformation across PA/SJ. The Kingdom needs you to reach people for Christ!