Marriage is not in the U.S. Constitution and therefore, according to that document, it is left to the states to define marriage. If the U.S. Supreme Court affirms what some renegade federal judges have done by redefining marriage, it will have legislated from the bench and prevented the democratic process – by the people – from settling the issue. It will shake the very foundation of our Constitution, bring into question the credibility of the federal judiciary and change our country in a multitude of ways.
One of the most important will be in the area of religious liberty. Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) legal counsel Michael Whitehead told those attending the recent MBC Worldview Conference that if the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, expect homosexual advocates and atheists to immediately launch legal and legislative lobbying efforts to end the tax-exempt status for churches. I commend my pastor friends who say they will not be intimidated with the loss of their church’s tax-exempt status and that they will steadfastly preach the Bible. But for many churches, it could pose a substantial financial challenge. Think of the property taxes due as well as other taxes that could be imposed.
Also emerging could be legal challenges involving public accommodation laws, government aid to Christian institutions that could put them in financial distress, not to mention the church’s ability to share the gospel in public. Some legal scholars suggest public accommodation laws will eventually trump the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) that many states have passed to protect religious liberty. Christian colleges and universities, who rely on students who secure government Pell grants and loans, could see that money disappear should the government decide that discrimination is taking place because the university requires students and employees to adhere to a statement of faith that declares homosexuality a sin. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has already redefined “religious freedom” as “freedom to worship.” In other words, as long as we keep our faith within the confines of our church walls everything is ok, but do not bring it outside the confines of our church buildings – or else.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who supports same-sex marriage and is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, has repeatedly said that Missouri “will be an inclusive state.” That is code language for cramming homosexuality down Missouri throats. He ought to be thrown out of office today for not doing his job in defending the Missouri Constitution in every instance. The General Assembly could have impeached him, but opted to leave Koster in the hands of voters in 2016.
Given the increasingly hostile climate to Christianity and our nation elevating faux “equality” over freedom, churches are urged to take protective measures with regard to their governing documents. The Alliance Defending Freedom has attorneys willing to provide free legal help to churches. They have a plethora of free resources available. One is a document titled, “Five Things All Churches Should Have in Their Bylaws.” They are:
- Statement of religious belief regarding marriage, gender, and human sexuality.
- Identify governing body that is the sole authoritative interpreter of Scripture.
- Formal membership policy.
- Procedure for member discipline/membership revocation
- Procedure for rescinding membership
Each one is elaborated upon at the Alliance Defending Freedom website. If you do not have a computer, call me and I will send you a copy.
Another valuable resource is a model policy that churches may wish to consider drafted by Michael Whitehead, who is also an ADF attorney. It is available as a free download at TheWhiteheadFirm.com. You may also call The Pathway office to get a copy. The Pathway published an interview with Whitehead in the March 24 issue. If you would like a copy, just call me or read it online at mbcpathway.com/whitehead. You may also listen on the website to presentations by Whitehead and University of Missouri constitutional law professor Joshua Hawley at the MBC Worldview Conference held April 2 at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
Finally, let me encourage you to pray. Pray that the Supreme Court will rule in a way pleasing unto God by upholding His definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Pray that God will raise-up lawmakers who will pass righteous, God-honoring laws. Ask God what He would have you do. And pray that God will send a great spiritual awakening throughout our nation.