Monday, August 26, 2013

Guess you better get that gay marriage policy change done

If Drudge carries the story for several days and if AP distributes the story, then it might be news enough for pastors and churches to pay attention.

Churches changing bylaws after gay marriage ruling 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Worried they could be sued by gay couples, some churches are changing their bylaws to reflect their view that the Bible allows only marriage between one man and one woman.
To the credit of Baptist Press, they wrote most of this story last month. Notice the AP by-line, Nashville.

The issue has to do with churches being sued because they refuse to allow their facilities to be used to perform a same sex marriage. I daresay that very, very few churches, relying on thousands of years of civilization, actually specify that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"I thought marriage was always between one man and one woman, but the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision said no," said Gregory S. Erwin, an attorney for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, an association of Southern Baptist churches and one several groups advising churches to change their bylaws. "I think it's better to be prepared because the law is changing. America is changing."
Indeed. We have lost this major battle of the culture war. It's time for some strategic preparation.

It is noted in the story that there have been no churches so sued, although some in the wedding industry have been. Check this story of a wedding photographer successfully sued for denying services to a lesbian couple. It is a fairly large jump from a private citizen to a church, clergy, or church facilities. But, let's be prudent here and recognize that there is some degree of handwriting on the wall.

My church was open to weddings of couples outside the church family. The sanctuary and church was attractive and numerous couples inquired about using it. We had a several page policy with requirements including, as I recall, $500-$1,000 in fees. The fees chased most of the business away and I never have been asked to preside over or allow the church to be used for any same sex marriage.

And pastor, if you allow such events at your church, be sure and do your due diligence. You have an application to use the church for a wedding of Taylor and Karen, or Fred and Jesse. Uh, don't assume. Surely you require some face-to-face counseling? Please do. It would be rather messy to have Fred and his boyfriend, Jesse, show up on wedding day.

You greybeards do recall the gender neutral name trick that was foisted on the Southern Baptist Convention by one of the moderates, back in the 1980s I think. A nomination from the floor was made that Hastings Sehested be the convention preacher. Moderates were numerous in those days and any reasonable alternative, Rev. Donald Duck, was preferable to the conservative nominated. But there was quick thinking of no nonsense moderator Adrian Rogers (himself with a gender neutral given name) who said, "Nancy Hastings Sehested has been nominated." But I digress.

And you thought your decisions about marrying divorced people was your only wedding issue?

It's a new day, brethren.Get it down in writing and adopted by the church.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“... relying on thousands of years of civilization, actually specify that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

While there is support for such over time, is there only support for such over time? Your own bible will cause you a bit of trouble on this point. Moreover, and what of other issues, both considered healthy and unhealthy (perhaps two evaluations of the same phenomena) that have been around for thousands of years, should they continue because they have? While there is pragmatic theme running through your words, pragmatism must also be subject to ethical judgment, but what is considered foundational that all would accept? It is not just a question of between faiths or between faiths and no faith, but within faith, as well.

“... Rev. Donald Duck, was preferable to the conservative nominated.”

At least Sehested was remembered, as well as Donald Duck. Too bad the conservative person nominated lost a share of mind to both a presumed liberal and a cartoon character. Perhaps she would have been a better choice after all?

“Get it down in writing and adopted by the church.”

Much ado about nothing. Get the folks riled up at Wednesday’s Church Council meeting, which is going to make it harder to love them up for homosexuals on Sunday; that is, the work will be counter-productive. But, if renting the church out is done as a way to raise funds, then the decision has been made that it will sometimes be used by people that it may find disagreement. I won’t say there is no line that reasonable cannot find a good deal of agreement, but on this population, drawing the line here is a loser for the congregation. Don’t wag economics then cry morality.