How Does the Recent Supreme Court Decision Regarding Same Sex Marriage Affect the Church?
Having been asked on a couple of occasions about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Constitutional rights of same sex marriage and the decision’s legal effects on the Church, i thought it useful to write a brief article about the Church’s legal obligations toward same sex marriage and toward government and the Church’s spiritual obligations toward same sex marriage and toward God. May I say for the benefit of any who may read this article who are not members of the body of Christ that I hold and advocate no ill toward anyone as to the dignity of their person, being made in the image of Almighty God. I extend only a heart of love and compassion for the salvation of every man’s soul; however, may all who believe that two men or two women can join together as a married couple be kindly warned of the judgment to come (rom. 1:18-32; Ga 5:19-21; l Co.6:9,10). but then again, may all who believe that a man and woman can live together outside of a divinely sanctioned marriage also be kindly warned of the judgment to come.
To answer the question directly, the decision has no direct effect at this point on the Church as to the Church’s legal obligations toward same sex marriage. The Supreme Court’s decision in no way obligates any member of any Church to perform the ceremony of, to sanction the union between, or to acknowledge the validity of same sex marriage in religious or spiritual matters. The Church’s spiritual obligation toward God supersedes its legal obligation toward Government. As the law currently stands, the First Amendment of the Constitution of these United States still protects our Faith and the “free exercise thereof…” Be forewarned; however, that this landmark decision will have a dramatic effect indirectly, (which may of course consequentially bring to bear more direct effects in the future.) Indirectly the current decision will embolden assaults and attacks, both legally and socially. Don’t be surprised if some of us become targets. Also know, that such First Amendment protection may not always exist. This Court decision has put the Fourteenth Amendment, which grants equal protection on a collision course with the First Amendment, which grants freedom of religion – the very scenario of which certain civil liberties groups and social activists have dreamt. Sadly, more change will come. These changes may be in the form of increased regulation and stricter and more scrutinized registration requirements for Churches. The change may be in revoking tax-exempt status of faith-based organizations. The change may be in the enactment of “hate-speech” legislation, forbidding the targeting of any “group” or “class.”
Whatever form these changes take, we already know that the increasing ungodliness and immorality in the world will make the world less tolerant towards religion and the free exercise of religion. Religion is officially in the minority. too, darkness hates light (Jn.3:19-21; Jn. 15:18). Therefore, we should prepare our hearts and the convictions of our minds for the fact that we “must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29) and for what eventually lies ahead for all who live godly in Christ Jesus. Paul said, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Our true allegiance, however, belongs to Christ (Ga . 1:10) and our citizenship is in heaven (Phil.3:20). As strangers and pilgrims (lPe.2:11) we seek a city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10). The writer of Hebrews continues, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16) So beloved, we are “in this world” but we are not “of this world.” (Jn.17:15,16). As being “in this world” we have certain legal obligation to Government, but as being “not of this world” we have certain spiritual obligations toward God. As you see, the two don’t always agree and conflicts do arise. Jesus said to Pilate, “…my Kingdom is not of this world.” (Jn.18:36) Here are some conclusions and observations that I offer regarding these social changes, this Court Ruling, and Our duties to God and Man:
1. the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth – not government (l Tim. 3:15)
2. the Church is a “holy nation” – not the United States (lPe.2:9)
3. God rules in the Kingdoms of men – governments do not rule in the Kingdom of God (Jn.19:11; Dan. 5:21)
4. Christians are to live quiet and peaceable lives (l Tim. 2:2)
5. Christians are to pray for and honor Kings (l Tim. 2:2; lPe.2:17)
6. Christians are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (Mt. 22:21)
7. Christians are not to speak evil of dignitaries (2Pe.2:10,11)
8. Christians are to be subject to the powers that be (1 Pe.2: 13; Ro. 13:1)
9. Christians must obey God and not man ( Acts 5:29; Ga.1:10)
10. Christians are to let their light shine by doing good works (Mt..5: 16)
11. Christians are to reprove the works of darkness by preaching the truth in love (Eph.4:15; Eph.5:11)
12. Christians are the salt of the earth and light of the world (Mt. 5:13,14)
13. Christians should not give men occasion to speak evil (Tit 2:8)
14. Christians are not to strive but be gentle unto all men (2 Tim..2:24)
I can tell you how this court decision SHOULD affect us. This decision should awaken us to the reality of our spiritual war (2Co.10:3-5; Eph.6:11,12) in which we are engaged and alert us to prepare for hardness as good soldiers (2 Tim.2:3). May we all do as Paul admonished in saying “… cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:12-14). Be not shaken in your faith. Be courageous in your life. Let Peter’s admonition be heard: “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.Honor the king. “(1 Pe.2: 13- 17).May God bless his people wherever they are found.
August 2015 Issue of Old Paths Advocate