What Should Churches Opposed to Gay Marriages Do?

This post addresses only the church’s legal concerns that have arisen related to same-sex marriage.

Recently, many courts in the US have ruled that marriage by the LGBTQ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) are legal. There is still much in legal limbo – the ultimate legal ruling will be done by the US Supreme Court in a few months or years. In the meantime, should churches enact policies to protect themselves and their ministers from being forced to perform these marriages for those congregations opposed to this on theological grounds?

The short answer is no. It is not necessary.

The long answer is that never in the history of the US has a church or a minister of a church been required to perform a ceremony which is against the theological positions of the church/minister. That includes things which today (December 2014) are considered acceptable but which were not socially acceptable decades ago. The courts never forced a church to do or forbade a church from doing any of the following:

  • Marrying teenagers
  • Marrying divorced people
  • Marrying people of different races
  • Marrying people of different ages
  • Marrying people of different faiths or no faith

While a church can pass a series of policies, it is unnecessary and it is needless time expended when there are so many more worthwhile things for a church to be doing. If a civil servant were to threaten a church with a legal suit, the courts would throw it out because it violates both clauses of the religion part of the first amendment: the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. The state cannot tell a church how to do its business (period).

BTW, churches are increasingly bombarded with alarmist emails and paper mail trying to scare them about their security issues, tax situation, legal matters, and government intrusion. It will require an increasing amount of work for churches to investigate to see which of these claims is real and thus should be addressed and which ones are opportunists trying to get churches to buy their services. The other name for these opportunists is “quacks” and there are a lot of them out there. Do not give them your attention and certainly not your business.

Lead On!