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1/2/2014 - Jan 2014 SLI Educational Update - Alabama Church Policies on Same Sex Marriage

AN EDUCATIONAL UPDATE FROM

THE SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™, INC.

 To:                  SLI Supporters                                  

 Date:               January 2014  

 From:              A. Eric Johnston

 Re:                  Alabama Church Policies on Same Sex Marriage

             Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized states’ rights for determining same sex marriage, declaring the Federal Defense of Marriage Law unconstitutional as being in conflict with states’ rights.  We have explained the United States v. Windsor case in two earlier Educational Updates (July and October 2013).  As a reminder, the court ruled federal law must recognize the marriage laws of states.  If a state recognizes same sex marriage, then the federal government must.  Currently, seventeen states now recognize same sex marriage.

             The court’s decision has raised many questions and concerns.  We believe these are justified and ultimately we will see the U.S. Supreme Court hold unconstitutional state laws prohibiting same sex marriage.  In turn, this will affect state legal issues in divorce, child custody, insurance, health, etcetera.  It will affect constitutional rights like speech and religion.

             Already, BlueCross and BlueShield of Alabama has stated that “based on this change to the federal law effective January 1, 2014, we will provide coverage for same-sex spouses for all of our underwritten groups.”  This is in spite of Alabama’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same sex marriage or recognizing such marriages from other states.  This was unnecessary and it is a sign of capitulation to the gay rights lobby.  It adds momentum to their efforts to achieve recognition to gay rights in all aspects of life.

             Our reason for addressing the issue again this month is the increasing inquiries we are receiving from churches about their policies for preaching, marriage ceremonies, use of facilities, etcetera.  While the church has a long and strong history against all aspects of homosexuality, many wish to express it in formal policies.  The evidence of past policy and practice will be the most significant defense a church can provide to protect itself.  Those churches who support same sex practices will argue a perverted social position not in agreement with church history.  But, for many churches, they are more comfortable with a stated policy.  We understand and sympathize with this need. 

 The following is a form of policy that provides a basic scriptural statement of belief and protection of traditional marriage, and concern with the sin of homosexual practices.  It may be edited to provide scriptural proofs or references to specific church doctrine or provisions of faith unique to various churches or denominations.  Additionally, it may be expanded or include additional statements of policy.  It may be done as an amendment to a church’s certificate of formation or incorporation, charter, constitution or by-laws, or as a simple resolution.  It should be formally adopted by church members, trustees, officers and/or governing boards.  Here is the suggested policy:

This church believes the Holy Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  The Scriptures teach the origin of man and his relationship to creation were through the sacred union of a man and a woman.  God has ordained marriage as a union of one man and one woman.  Scripture condemns unnatural relationships between man and man and woman and woman.  The policies of this church have been and continue to be in submission to this stated Word of God.  The purpose of this policy is to clearly state this church’s position.

 The teachings and ministries of this church shall recognize only the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.  No ministry of this church shall recognize the validity of any position that condones any same sex relationship, whether marriage or a union replicating marriage, or advocates the legalization or legitimization of any homosexual activity. 

Church facilities shall only be used in compliance with this policy.  Church facilities may not be used by any person, group or organization that advocates, endorses or promotes homosexuality as an alternative or acceptable lifestyle.  This policy applies to any use of church facilities, including but not limited to, weddings, community or civic meetings, Bible studies, birthday parties, anniversaries, wedding or baby showers, or meetings for any other purpose.

             Most churches are concerned with being required to perform same sex weddings.  Churches are concerned with the use of their facilities.  Also of significant concern is whether preaching against homosexuality will be prohibited.  The policy form seeks to address these, as well as other questions.  Ministers must be free to preach the unchangeable Word of God to a needy and sinful people.  The church must put this Word into practice in its policies and activities without fear of legal repercussions.  A time of conflict will surely come.  We hope that a policy in this form will give comfort to churches for those future prospects, as well as clearly state to anyone who inquires that the position of the church is in conformity with God’s Word.

             We ask our readers to circulate this among churches.  We are glad to receive any questions from or help any church needing assistance, at no charge.

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