Marriage ruling: What now for the church?

Meredith Flynn —  June 26, 2015

Church_blogNEWS | Following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, Christian leaders quickly weighed in on how churches should respond to the ruling.

“The challenge for Christians now is to speak the truth in love & to speak love in truth. Love of neighbor means we cannot lie about marriage,” tweeted Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, released a statement calling himself a “conscientious dissenter” from the Court’s decision.

“Despite this ruling,” Moore continued, “the church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. We will not capitulate on this issue because we cannot. To minimize or ignore a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed down to us, and we have no authority to do this.

“At the same time, now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. Marriage in the minds of the public may change, but marriage as a reality created by God won’t change at all. The church must now articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage and work to rebuild a culture of marriage.”

Moore also issued a statement Friday along with other evangelical leaders, opposing the ruling and offering six “points of engagement” for churches:

1. Respect and pray for governing authorities.
2. Teach the truth about biblical marriage.
3. Affirm all persons are created in God’s image and deserve dignity and respect.
4. Love our neighbors regardless of disagreements over marriage.
5. Live respectfully alongside those with whom we disagree.
6. Cultivate a common culture of religious liberty.

Other leaders who signed the statement include Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, author and radio host Nancy Leigh DeMoss, pastors Tony Evans, David Jeremiah and Matt Chandler, and theologian J.I. Packer. For the full statement and a list of signatories, go to

Prior to the Court’s decision, several past SBC presidents at the June 16-17 Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio, signed a statement vowing they would not participate in same-sex unions. The presidents also stressed the need for churches to be prepared with clear bylaws and constitutions that say what it means to be married in their churches.

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said what concerns him most are the small and medium-sized churches “that have never thought through their bylaws and constitutions. Challenges will probably come to those small churches that are ill-prepared.”

GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention said Friday in a statement that while it will likely take weeks to determine the impact of the decision and next steps, “In the meantime, churches should work with their legal and accounting advisors to determine whether their governing, employment, building use and other documents or policies need to be reviewed in light of the expanding definition of marriage.”

GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said, “GuideStone remains committed to advocating for the churches, ministries and pastors we serve during these days and will share information to help churches remain compliant in their health care and retirement plans.”

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.