By Bader George Qarmont
As New Jersey became the 14th state in the Union to license gay marriage, I am left wondering why and what is next. Will this judicial activism have any impact on churches? Some may think I am over reacting, but I fear that the church is 15-25 years away from being forced to perform same sex marriage or risk losing tax exemption for discrimination. A Pastor threating to close his church doors before doing so, is no threat at all.
If a church wants to continue to practice the Biblical definition of marriage, it needs to protect itself. I see a potential for litigation to force a church to marry same sex couples, as is already happening in England. Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, The gay plaintiff in the legal challenge in England said “The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the church.” It is a matter of time before American churches are also legally challenged.
Currently most churches will marry non-members in a religious ceremony at the church, this practice must end immediately and new policy implemented as soon as possible. I believe churches should have a policy to only marry members. In order to be a member each person must sign a statement of faith that includes acceptance of the Biblical definition of marriage. Anyone can attend the church but only members can be married in the church.
This change and implementation must be done immediately in order to protect the church and show a written history before any problems arise. Some may say that this is a solution looking for a problem. Waiting to have a problem first and change rules later is not wise and will not legally work. It is important to show a court of law that this is not a last minute change or reaction to litigation, but rather a long standing written policy that is known and agreed to by all members.
A couple could attend and be married in a church that allows gay ceremonies. Plenty of churches already marry gay couples, such as the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, already accept gay marriage. The Episcopal Church allows each bishop to decide whether to allow the ceremony in their own diocese.
As we try to deal with the ever changing laws and their social implications we must remember that it is not the person, but the behavior that we Biblically object to. As a Christians, it is important to love the person even when we do not biblically agree with their behavior. None of us are without sin and all fall short, but Biblical principles must be defended and preserved.