For over a decade I’ve been calling for churches to add a statement about marriage to their official documents. It was evident many years ago that the day would come when gay marriage would be widely accepted in our culture. I should note in passing that yesterday President Obama promised that he would not force churches to perform gay weddings.
Well, that’s a relief.
Or maybe not. After reading the president’s full statement regarding the Supreme Court decisions, Christians should wonder how long the government will respect our convictions regarding marriage. The tone of the statement suggests that we will feel increasing pressure to give way on the issue of marriage.
Either cave in or keep quiet.
For those who prefer neither option, let me recommend that every evangelical church write a statement about marriage and place it in your most foundational document. Follow whatever procedure your church mandates. Study the issue, appoint a task force, educate your people, take it to the elders or to the session or to the consistory or to the deacons, and then have a church vote if that’s what your system requires. Follow the proper steps in your congregation and then put marriage into your church constitution.
Not in the “policies and procedures” section.
Put it in the “This is what we believe” section.
In some churches that will be the “Statement of Faith” or the “Articles of Faith.”
Write it down and put it in so that there can be no ambiguity about where your church stands.
When I was pastoring in Oak Park, IL, we amended the church constitution to specifically include a statement about when life begins and what we believe about marriage. I’m going to include that statement here simply as an example. It can certainly be improved and could easily be expanded. Here’s the statement:
Marriage and the Family
We believe that marriage was ordained by God at creation as the sacred union of one man and one woman. All sexual relations must therefore be reserved for that union. Christian marriage is a representation of Christ’s relationship to His church. We also believe that children are a blessing from the Lord. Thus all human life is sacred and worthy of protection from the moment of conception.
Churches need to be crystal-clear on this issue. To borrow a phrase from math class, we need to “show our work” when we give an answer. A short statement like this indicates not only what we believe but where we find biblical support.
In earlier generations churches didn’t add statements about marriage to their foundational documents because no one foresaw a day when two men or two women would get married. That day is upon us. Adding marriage to your church constitution won’t solve all the problems, but it may save you from trouble down the road.