Posted: 7/15/15 at 8:45am.
We have received many requests from BGAV churches about appropriate ways churches and pastors can respond to the Supreme Court decision, Obergefell vs. Hodges, which declared that same sex couples have the legal right to marry nationwide.
We have researched a variety of sources to help provide the guidance churches are seeking. As you can see, there are differing perspectives and advice from legal authorities and denominational groups. We share these for you to use based upon your particular concern.
Here are some of the perspectives we have found from partners and friends:
- Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has reported to churches that churches do not need to do anything right now. They are clearly protected in the Supreme Court ruling through the clear principle of separation of church and state. They have prepared a document for churches on what a church needs to do now.
- Church and Law Tax Report, which is a regular report that the much respected financial and liability website, ChurchLawandTax.com, publishes, also has their opinions. (This website is nested on the Christianity Today website.) Richard Hammar, who is the editor and main composer of the report, also believes that at the present moment, churches do not need to do anything in their constitution and by-laws, and even if they did, he is not sure that it would protect a church if something was made out of the issue. He has shared that some churches think they should add a statement about marriage and family in their Constitution to protect themselves. He says it does not hurt a church to have it, but he is not sure it is necessary. See his article 4 Questions from Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling.
- The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC thinks that churches should be more proactive in their approach. They have prepared a 42 page guide for churches on what they need to do to prepare for the upcoming court battles. They give specific instructions and sample documents that may be used for conversation.
- The Baptist General Convention of Texas has also prepared some documentation with the legal advice of an attorney with some samples wordings of things that might be included in the Constitution and By-Laws and in a Church Facilities Handbook: A Guideline for Preparing Your Church in the Midst of Cultural Changes.