Archives For Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage decision

D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, TEDS, our EFCA seminary, is one of the top New Testament Evangelical scholars. Not only is he a gifted New Testament scholar, he is also an astute theologian, and he is a churchman. Additionally, Carson has a keen sense of what it means for Christians to live as the people of God in this culture (cf. Christ and Culture Revisited [2008] and The Intolerance of Tolerance [2012]).

Carson was interviewed about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex “marriage.” In this 18 minute interview, Carson responds to the following questions/issues:

  • How would you respond to one who asked for your thoughts regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex “marriage”? (0:00-5:15)
  • Do you believe this marks a new era for the church in the United States? (5:15-7:15)
  • What would you say to fellow believers who may be angry or feel betrayed by this ruling? (7:15-9:20)
  • With this ruling on Friday and the church gathering on Sunday, if you were a pastor what would you preach? (9:20-11:00)
  • How will this ruling affect religious freedom? (11:00-14:10)
  • What impact will this decision have on the international community, and specifically how will the global church view this? (14:10-18:24)

I encourage you to listen to this interview, and then forward it on to your elders and other leaders. And then discuss it. As you do so, please ponder these additional questions:

  • How do you sense this will affect your pastoral ministry?
  • How do you think this will affect the church and its ministry?
  • How will you respond, what will you plan to do?
  • What additional questions would you ask?

The Supreme Court, by a ruling of 5-4, declared same-sex “marriage” a constitutional right, making it the law of the land.

A Supreme Court will not determine, define or overturn God’s ordained design for marriage as being between a man and a woman (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:24-25; Matt. 19:3-9). Although this decision will not change our view of marriage, it will have significant implications about how we affirm and live this truth during this day in which the biblical view is denied by many.

I am grieved, though not surprised. We do not fear. We must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16). We will stand upon and speak for God’s truth, and we will do so with convictional kindness.

Here is the response from Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the SBC, with which I concur.

I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling handed down by the Court today, believing, along with millions of others, that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman and that it is improper for the Court to redefine an institution it did not invent in the first place.

I believe this action of finding some illusory Fourteenth Amendment right to same-sex marriage will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion. In the wake of this decision, we must ensure that the American principles of pluralism and religious liberty are maintained, as the religious convictions of millions of Americans necessarily cause us to hold a different, more ancient, view of marriage than the one the Court has imposed. Additionally, today’s decision reminds us of the importance of electing a president who knows how to appoint jurists rather than would-be legislators to the bench.

Despite this ruling, the church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. We will not capitulate on this issue because we cannot. To minimize or ignore a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed down to us, and we have no authority to do this. At the same time, now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. Marriage in the minds of the public may change, but marriage as a reality created by God won’t change at all. The church must now articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage and work to rebuild a culture of marriage.

Here is the update from Christianity Today: Supreme Court: States Can’t Ban Same-Sex Marriage

Here is a statement from Al Mohler: Mohler Responses to Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Here is a statement from NAE: Supreme Court Redefines Marriage and God Defined Marriage

Here is a statement made by a diverse coalition of evangelical leaders assembled by the ERLCHere We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

Here is a Christianity Today Editorial written by Mark Galli: Six Things To Do after the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage

Here is a letter to our EFCA family from President Kompelien: EFCA Response to Supreme Court Ruling

Here is a statement by Ray Ortlund about Marriage and the Gospel: What is Marriage, According to the Bible?

Here is a summary of the decision by Joe Carter: Explainer: What You Should Know About the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Here is a statement from John Piper: So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the New Calamity

Here is a statement by Erik Stanley, Alliance Defending Freedom, for churches to consider: What Your Church Needs to Know – And Do – About the Court’s Marriage Ruling

This month the Supreme Court will make a decision about the legality of same-sex marriage. This decision will either affirm the age-old understanding of marriage between a man and a woman, as revealed in Scripture and affirmed in tradition, or redefine marriage based on the social constructs of the contemporary day.

On the one hand, since man and woman are God-ordained creations in the image of God, and since marriage is a God-ordained institution, we are not at liberty to redefine either. On the other hand, even if we do not agree with this redefinition, it carries with it significant implications for life and ministry in such a setting.

Recently Richard Hammar, senior editor of Church Law & Tax Report, was interviewed about the upcoming Supreme Court decision and what pastors, leaders and churches ought to know. I have included excerpts of Hammer’s response in the last two questions.

To date, 36 states and the District of Columbia have recognized the legal rights of same-sex couples to marry. If the Supreme Court does the same in June, as many expect it will, what will change?

Should the Supreme Court decide there is a constitutionally protected right for same-sex couples to marry, it will affirm the laws and court decisions of states that already recognize such a right and it will overturn the laws of the remaining states that define marriage as a union between a man and woman only.

You have followed this issue closely starting back in 2008, and again in 2013 after the Supreme Court addressed three cases related to marriage and same-sex couples. What have you learned?

Most state laws and court rulings sanctioning same-sex marriage contain a very specific religious exemption for clergy. The exemptions say any clergy who oppose same-sex marriage based on their sincerely held religious beliefs may choose not to officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Do you expect the Supreme Court to include a similar exemption with its ruling next month, should it recognize a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry?

Yes. And others do, too. Douglas Laycock, one of the country’s premier constitutional scholars, supports same-sex marriage rights, but in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court advocating the rights of same-sex couples to marry, he also implored the Court to provide a definitive clergy exemption.

Beyond clergy, what will the Supreme Court ruling mean for churches that oppose same-sex marriage? Will they be required to host same-sex wedding ceremonies?

That’s not a question currently before the Court. The case before it only addresses the legal right of same-sex couples to marry. 

Such uncertainty has made some church leaders who oppose same-sex marriage nervous. Should churches that allow their buildings to be used by outside individuals for weddings reconsider that practice?

This is, no doubt, a difficult matter for churches to decide, especially among those that wish to provide their buildings as a service to their local communities in exchange for minimal fees to cover costs associated with the use of the buildings. . . The answer is complicated by two factors, which I’ll quote here: First, the courts have yet to address the issue, and so all we can do is speculate. Second, any answer will depend on the wording, application, and exemptions of a veritable patchwork quilt of thousands of local, state, and federal laws forbidding discrimination by places of “public accommodation.” This makes it impossible to generalize.  

The Washington Post recently reported on concerns regarding the tax-exempt status of churches, church-run schools, and religiously affiliated colleges and universities that oppose same-sex marriages. This was based on a specific exchange from the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in April, and it has further raised concerns among many church leaders. We’re often asked whether churches should amend their church bylaws—as a measure of protection—to state they hold a traditional, orthodox view of marriage as a union between a man and a woman only. Would a change like this help a church?

Let me make a couple of comments in response to this question. First, there certainly is no downside to including such a provision in a church’s governing documents, but I would point out that many of the church governing documents I have reviewed already contain a strong doctrinal statement that may make such an additional provision redundant. Second, such a statement in a church’s bylaws may not accomplish the desired protection. . . . The bottom line is that including a statement in a church’s bylaws defining marriage may be of some help should the church’s tax exemptions be challenged, or if the church is sued for violating a public accommodations law due to its refusal to host same-sex marriages, but it is no guaranty of protection.

“Today, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case known as Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision in this case will eventually determine the legal definition of marriage in the fifty states. Few issues loom so large over the nation’s future. Christians should pray for the nine justices of the Supreme Court today, aware of the magnitude of the issues before the Court. Love of neighbor also means that we pray that marriage be honored as the union of a man and a woman.” This begins Al Mohler’s essay on the decision before the Supreme Court.

Here are two articles that explain the issues before the Supreme Court.

Lyle Denniston writes Same-sex marriage: The decisive questions. He summarizes the three key issues before the Supreme Court in question form Who decides?  What right is at issue? What is the constitutional test?” He then explains the major arguments/decisions facing the Supreme Court under each of those major questions. It is very helpful in articulating the issues of decision before the Court.

Joe Carter, in his always helpful 9 Things series, writes 9 Things You Should Know About Same-Sex Marriage. This, too, gives a brief oversight of the issues surrounding this discussion and decision.

As Christians, we pray, we remain informed, we pray, we ponder and reflect, we pray, we engage with convictional kindness, we pray . . .

Ultimately our trust and our hope is in the Lord!