Every Church Must Take a Stand on Gay Marriage
I begin with this quote from <a href="https://www.crosswalk.com/news/weblogs/mohler/?cal=go&adate=4%2F28%2F2004"target"_blank">Al Mohler</a>, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY(and fellow Crosswalk blogger): <blockquote>There is no refuge on the issue of same-sex marriage, however. The questions will eventually be answered. Churches will either endorse same-sex marriage, or they will not. Congregations will perform same-sex marriages, or they will not. Denominations and religious institutions will recognize same-sex partnerships, or they will not. There is no middle ground, no place of compromise, and eventually no place to hide.</blockquote>
Dr. Mohler is absolutely right. Every church will have to take a stand eventually. At Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, we plan to address this issue in a major way later this year. We will speak from the pulpit, in our classes and groups, in the local newspapers, on the Internet, and by every other means available to us. Our first goal is to teach the congregation what the Bible says about marriage, male-female relationships, God's design for sexuality, and the call to moral purity. We will also address the need to speak the truth in love. How should Christians speak out on this issue, especially when the biblical position is now derided by many people? How do you share Christ with a close friend or family member who is homosexual? How can Christians make a difference in this battle for the heart and soul of America?
Although we have tackled these issues before, we do not take for granted that everyone in our congregation has a clear understanding of these issues. Hundreds of new people pass in and out of our midst every year. Because of our location in an urban area, our congregation has a high rate of turnover--much more than a settled, rural congregation. New people come to Christ on a regular basis. So it's not surprising that we need to address these issues openly--even though we have spoken about homosexuality frequently in the past.
I believe it is imperative for churches to formally address this issue. By I mean making a statement that becomes part of the church's official documents—the constitution, the Statement of Faith, the By-laws, etc. It seems increasingly likely that churches will face legal challenges in the future if we uphold biblical standards and refuse to admit self-confessed, unrepentant homosexuals into our membership. We would do well to not assume that everyone inside or outside the church knows where we stand.
Two Southern Baptist statements on this issue are very helpful:
<a href="http://www.mbts.edu/s4_news_story_display.asp?id=429"target"_blank"> The Kansas City Statement on Marriage</a>
<a href="http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=18295"target"_blank">Baptist Seminary Presidents—In Defense of Marriage</a>
Several years ago our church put together the <a href="http://www.calvarymemorial.com/ministries/family/pdf/manifesto.pdf"target"_blank">Calvary Family Manifesto</a> to help us address some of the key issues involving marriage and the family. Here is the statement on marriage from the manifesto: <blockquote>We believe God, not man, created marriage. We believe marriage was the first institution designed by God. We believe the Bible teaches that the covenant of marriage is sacred and lifelong. The Bible makes it clear that marriage is a legally binding, public declaration of commitment and a private consummation between one man and one woman, never between the same sex. Therefore, we believe God gives a wife to a husband, and a husband to a wife, and they are to receive one another as God’s unique and personal provision to help meet their mutual needs. We believe God created marriage for the purpose of couples glorifying God as one flesh, providing companionship, partnering together in the work of God’s kingdom, parenting godly children, and enjoying sexual pleasure. Just as the Trinity reflects equal worth with differing roles, we believe God created a man and a woman with equal worth but with differing roles and responsibilities in marriage. Finally, we declare the marriage commitment must be upheld in our culture as that sacred institution of God in which men and women can experience the truest sense of spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy, so that the two can become one. (Genesis 2:18-25; Deuteronomy 24:5; Proverbs 27:17; Song of Solomon; Matthew 19:4-6, 22:30; Mark 10:6-9, 12:25; Romans 1:26-27, 8:29; 2 Corinthians 7:3; Ephesians 5:30-32; Hebrews 13:4) Colossians 3:19; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Peter 3:7)</blockquote>I urge pastors and church elders everywhere to appoint a task force now to address this question. Where does your church stand on gay marriage? Your congregation and your community deserve to know the answer.