Monday, October 13, 2014

Same Sex Marriage: Protecting The Church In A Morally Depraved Culture

Recently I was engaged in a conversation about the impending legal threats that are certain to come upon churches from the increasingly intolerant government of a morally depraved culture.  The man I was speaking with made an astounding assertion; he said that his church would never come under any attacks over social issues including same-sex fake marriages.

Sadly, he’s right.  His church is notably liberal.  His church does not recognize the final and immutable authority of Scripture.  They do and will continue to tolerate homosexuality among their members and they will perform same-sex marriages.  Those kinds of tolerant churches are the churches the government is pleased to tolerate.

But, for the conservative, Bible-believing, God-honoring, churches, legal trouble is imminent.  Pastors, you, your Churches, your staff, and your officers, and your members are at risk of fines, penalties, closures, persecutions, and possibly even incarceration.  Wisdom requires that you take a good, close look at your ministries and identify where the rocks are so you won’t be shipwrecked.

I am not an attorney and I certainly have no credentials that would convince you, or any church for that matter, to take my advice, but I have given this subject some serious consideration.   Perhaps there are some constitutional Christian attorneys who specialize in the defense of religious freedoms and who might formalize these suggestions in a way that would be helpful to you and your church.  

 Listed below are several thoughts, about how I think you can keep yourself out of jail and protect your church from catastrophic lawsuits:

1.         STOP DOING WEDDING PRODUCTIONS.  It’s time to get back to the biblical understanding of “Holy matrimony.”  Your church’s policy ought to be iron clad in this sense; your only legitimate purpose, in accommodating a wedding ceremony, is to solemnly recognize God’s work in His “putting together” one man with one woman so that the two become one flesh.  And frankly, in the Church of Jesus Christ and your Christian ministry, any ceremony that falls short of "holy matrimony" is a fake marriage and an abomination. This is not the time or the place for vain entertainment and it is certainly not your prerogative to tolerate, enable, or profane the house of God by your participation in sin. 

2        KEEP YOUR CEREMONIES IN-HOUSE.  Your ministerial responsibilities are to your flock; those whom God has entrusted to your care.  They are the regenerate members of your church. 

And parenthetically, this might be a good time to start rethinking the importance of local church membership; something that too many program-driven churches have neglected in recent years.  In the context of a regenerate membership, and the accountability that accompanies that, homosexuality, as well as all other open sin, will expectedly be named and called out as matters of biblical church discipline for the purpose of repentance and restoration, or expulsion.

There is no place, here, for any kind of warm, fuzzy "God loves you just the way you are" happycrap.  Purity and holiness are God’s design and expectation for His Church and in that kind of church, sinners will scatter like cockroaches when the lights of His truth are turned on.

3.         DO NOT ALLOW YOUR MEMBERS TO WRITE OR PRODUCE THEIR OWN SILLY, CUTE, HUMOROUS, CLEVER, INANE, PROFANE, OR OTHERWISE IRREVERENT CEREMONIES.  There is plenty of time for frivolity at the reception (which, by the way, might be better moved to another location).  The responsibility to address the friends, family, and your congregation as to the reason and solemn meaning for the service rests upon you. So for any authentic Christian candidates who present themselves to engage in this thing called holy matrimony, these following words, or something similar, are instructive and God-honoring and they serve as a public testimony of the couple’s holy relationship to each other and to God.


       Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is between Christ and His church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with His presence, and first miracle that He wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of the apostle Paul to be honorable among all men: and, therefore, is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

       First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of His holy name.

       Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.


       Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.  Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.  

     Therefore, if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.

You may recall the recent account of the Christian owners of a print shop that sold custom printed T-shirts.  When a queer couple asked for something affirming their lifestyle, the owners declined.  They were subsequently sued for discrimination.  If their business only sold pre-printed shirts, the customer’s options would have been limited to only the available products. 

Similarly then, if your church only has one standard, biblical ceremony patterned and purposed after the Word of God, the chances of a same-sex fake marriage issue arising will be greatly minimized.  They don't want the product you offer and you don’t do custom services.

4.         QUIT SELLING YOUR SERVICES.  My heathen, atheistic brother-in-law told me years ago, that he was going to get a minister’s license from the state so that he could perform weddings for fees.  When you indiscriminately perform weddings, you expose yourself to a plethora of potential problems as you will encounter unholy unions that are sure to violate your conscience (if you have one).   There are lots of liberal clergy persons, witch doctors, Satanists, judges, and other goofy practitioners, like my brother-in-law, who will be happy to perform unholy rituals; you should not be one of them. 

As a pastor, your calling is to shepherd the flock of God. Teach, preach, and minister to their spiritual needs.  Legitimate, God ordained, marriage is part of that job description and is to be performed for those born-again members of your church.   

Don’t market your ministry for a fee.  Just do it.   If those, whom you serve give you an unsolicited, free will honorarium as a token of their love and appreciation, be thankful and praise God.  But don’t put a price tag on it.  If you don’t have a product to sell, you can’t be sued for discrimination when you don’t sell it.

5.         DON’T RENT YOUR FACILITIES FOR UNHOLY ACTIVITIES.  This should be a no-brainer.  The facility belongs to God.  Every use of it, including weddings and receptions, ought to be deliberately considered in view of your biblical mission and approved only if in harmony with your doctrinal statement. 

6.         DO NOT SIGN THE STATE’S MARRIAGE LICENSES – When you come to the close of the service and announce, “By the authority vested in me by the State of…”  you are acting as an agent of the state.  And as such, you will not be permitted to discriminate and you will be forced to perform same-sex fake weddings.   Your authority to perform a ceremony of holy matrimony is from God and is only to recognize that which is ordained by Him.  Marriage is His institution and it should be observed by His standard; “one man and one woman" joined together by God and not to be changed or redefined by man.

Therefore, it may be necessary for all your candidates to obtain a signed license from an independent, state-approved notary, clerk, judge, or even another, unprincipled clergy person.  That might mean that they privately arrange for a contracted legal witness to attend the ceremony or have a separate state sanctioned wedding, with witnesses, apart from the church ceremony.   

7.         BOLDLY DENOUNCE SIN - Pastor, you should make a regular habit of bringing your congregation to the point of conviction and repentance of sin -- ALL sin.  Preach it once or twice a year.  And in the context of sexual sin, that means ALL kinds of sexual immorality and perversions.  Don't single out homosexuality while you are knowingly tolerant of other kinds of sexual sin within your flock.  And make sure that your sermons are recorded to protect yourself from accusations of discrimination. 

8.      FORMALIZE YOUR POLICIES - Write them into your church's constitution and bylaws and then "PRACTICE THEM."  Also, it would be to your advantage to cite the scriptural references for all the imperatives that govern your church's practices.   And make sure your congregation knows the church's policies.  It is a lot easier for knowledgeable members to direct their unsaved relatives to the unprincipled minister at the worldly church down the street, than it is to suddenly surprise and upset them at an emotional time when you have to tell them that you won't allow or officiate the wedding ceremony of their darling daughter to the heathen sleazeball who impregnated her.  

9.         FINAL THOUGHTS - It may just have to come down to all of this.  You may have far fewer weddings, but that’s not all bad.  Most authentic Christians will want to solemnize their marriage covenant in the presence of God and witnesses who will love them, care for them, and hold them accountable, in a formal ceremony.   And those are the one's who willingly subject themselves to your premarital spiritual assessment and counseling.   On the other hand, most people who want a same-sex fake wedding will want no part of it with you.   

The church is not (or shouldn’t be) a public commercial enterprise.  The world hates God and wants no part of Him.  They will not insist on “purchasing a product that your store simply does not sell.”


1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

That's a great suggestion list. It should keep a lot of churches out of trouble if they heed it.