Applicants for Ministry – Same-Sex Marriage: Discussion on Church of God General Assembly

Historical and Biblical Position:

  • The institution of marriage was established and ordained by God (Genesis 2:24).
  • Therefore “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27).
  • Therefore, “marriage is honorable” (Hebrews 13:4).
  • In spite of the progressive normalization of alternative lifestyles and the growing legal acceptance of same-sex unions, opposition is declared to to any deviation from traditional marriages of male and female.
  • Notwithstanding the rulings of the court systems of the land and state legislatures or laity in support of same-sex unions, it is resolve resolutely firm to never allow the sanctioning of same-sex marriages by its clergy or laity nor recognize the legitimacy of such unions.

Adopted by the 75th International General Assembly (p. 158-159, S63) in GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR MINISTERS

II. Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships

A. The Church of God rejects the cultural, political, and theological pressures to change the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. We affirm this definition based on God’s Word and the truth that Christian marriage between a man and a woman reflects the theological truth of Christ’s love for His Church.

B. Church of God ministers, whether an ordained minister or ordained bishop, shall only perform or participate in marriage ceremonies or marriage blessings between one man and one woman, as marriage is defined in the Bible. This policy also is applicable to Church of God ministers who serve in capacities outside the scope of normal pastoring, such as military, hospital, and corporate chaplains.

C. Local Church of God churches and the local Church of God ministers who serve them shall only hold, provide facilities for, conduct or preside over weddings, wedding receptions, and anniversaries (and other gatherings related to weddings, receptions, and anniversaries) that celebrate a marriage or blessing between one man and one woman, as marriage is defined in the Bible.

D. Church of God ministers shall maintain a Christ-like attitude of love, mercy, and grace, when counseling or otherwise dealing with individuals in same-gender relationships. A Christ-like spirit will maintain the truth of God’s Word, the policies of the church, and avoid inappropriate remarks or attitudes that do not reflect the Holy Spirit.

E. Church of God ministers shall seek to find godly counselors to whom they can refer individuals in same-gender relationships for additional ministry and guidance.

F. Failure of Church of God ministers to adhere to these biblically based guidelines will result in forfeiture of ministerial credentials.

Statement of the Church of God Regarding Same-Sex Marriage Court Decision [dated June 26, 2015]

Steps to avoid a lawsuit after U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage [by Brotherhood Mutual]

1) Include a spiritual purpose provision in your governing documents/bylaws. Be sure your organizational governing documents clearly state your ministry’s spiritual purpose, your reliance on scripture, and the intent to advance the ministry in accordance with scripture. Where appropriate, quote scripture within the purpose statement.

2) Include a morals clause in your employee handbook. Be sure your employee handbook includes a policy telling your organization’s employees that the church expects them to support its spiritual purpose and behave in accordance with it. Including such a clause in your handbook, when applied consistently, can go a long way toward protecting the church from employment-related lawsuits.

3) Respond with sensitivity. Train your clergy, staff, and volunteers to approach individual needs and requests with empathy. Although you cannot meet every request or demand, the manner in which you convey your response is sometimes as important as what you have decided.

4) Consult with local counsel. When revising organizational documents and ministry policies and procedures, involve a local attorney. A wide variety of federal, state, and local laws apply to employment and facilities use, and consulting with a local attorney can provide guidance on any state-specific and local legal issues that you may encounter. You also should contact your attorney and your insurance agent any time you anticipate a claim against the church.

All ministries, whether supportive of same-sex unions or not, should recognize and understand the potential impact of this ruling. Following the steps listed above can help ministries continue to operate in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs and avoid claims of improper discrimination. Contact a local attorney for assistance with creating policies and procedures and for help in understanding how the law applies to your ministry.

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98 thoughts on “Applicants for Ministry – Same-Sex Marriage: Discussion on Church of God General Assembly

  1. Randy Buchanan says:

    “He’s saying believers should lose their spirits of condemnation when a young person gets pregnant out of wedlock and celebrate the life being conceived. This would go along with what Paul taught in Galatians 6 as well.

    As far as Mary is concerned, to the public at large she was having an unwed pregnancy.

    Our focus as followers of Christ is to provide love and restoration not condemnation and pointing of fingers which drives people out of the church when they are at their most vulnerable moments.

    If we are truly pro-life we can celebrate the life of an unborn regardless of whether it was conceived in marriage or in fornication.”

  2. Melody Cates Kinzer says:

    Comparing Mary’s unwed pregnancy to that of any other woman was foolish of the author. Mary’s was an immaculate conception by the Holy Spirit. With that being said, I do understand the rest of the article. No, unwed pregnancy is not a sin but the act that led to the unwed pregnancy is. Premarital sex IS a sin. However, the unborn child has not sinned and his/her life should be celebrated. Condemning any sinner, unwed mother or whoever, is NOT out job. Even Jesus said “I come into the world not to condemn the world but to save it.” If we, as a church, shun an unwed mother, we are sending out a very poor message of Jesus’ love. Condemning a young women…or an older woman for that matter, will surely push her away from Christ. Showing her the love of Jesus will bring her closer to Christ. Should we condone sex before marriage? Absolutely NOT. If a pastor is doing what most pastors that I have known do, he is preaching the word and somewhere, sometime she will or has already heard that premarital sex is a sin. It is up to her to repent and ask forgiveness. It is up to us to love her and show her that she is loved by Jesus, who died for her sins.

  3. Charlink Tomson says:

    My point exactly – except if you’re pregnant by the Holy Spirit there can be no comparison with Mary and the point Steve Webb made is #TRUE

  4. Charlink Tomson says:

    Misleading is when you tell people the church van would run and it does not. When you start telling them Mary was just another teen pregnant out of wedlock, there’s much more in question – like our Savior’s nature and this is just for starters

  5. Melody Cates Kinzer says:

    “This is where I was heading: mis·ledplay -ˈledmis·lead·ing

    transitive verb

    : to lead in a wrong direction or into a mistaken action or belief often by deliberate deceit
    intransitive verb

    : to lead astray : give a wrong impression”

  6. Timothy D McCune says:

    I believe the meat of the article was to have the church open its eyes to stop judging unwed pregnant young people and or single ladies. To stop whispering behind their backs and instead to come alongside them to guide them with love , grace and mercy. If you want to point the sin of the young lady that put “her” there, y’all left out one Big detail the young man that participated in the sin with her. Yes it is a sin but we as the church must move past it show the love of Jesus or more young people will leave our churches and more abortions will follow these unwed pregnancy. God bless you all. Go in Peace.

  7. Charlink Tomson says:

    John Ruffle “It is telling that Jesus himself was an unwed pregnancy. Mary became the most vulnerable of women—an unmarried pregnant teen” Do you feel this is an appropriate example for the topic?

  8. Timothy D McCune says:

    I think that while it makes most Christians cringe to put Mary in the same category as an unwed pregnant Mother, that is what she was. I feel the author could have used more tact or respect showing Mary as the engaged bride to be of Joseph pregnant by Immaculate conception. There is a difference between Mary and teens willingly sinning, there doesn’t seem to be a difference in people’s hearts in the way they judge them. If we put Mary and a local pregnant church teen next to each other not knowing who they are , they will both get the same looks the whispers the same judgments.

  9. Charlink Tomson says:

    Richard Johansen Judgment expressed was most certainly not toward the subjects of the article, but against the author’s comparison between the virgin’s Mary immaculate conception of Christ with unmarried teen pregnancies, which are obviously neither virgin, nor immaculate and most certainly not of Christ.

  10. John Ruffle says:

    Sure but just think of the social stigma Mother Mary must have gone through. When she said the divine “yes” she was risking getting stoned to death. Joseph, whom she was engaged to, had to get convinced via a dream. Things were not looking good for the Mother of Our Lord cirumstantually. So if one oerson xan identify wuth fear and rejection, it’s Mama Mary. Only, she overcame by her faith (read: unwavering confidence God), so therefore pregnant, unmarried teenagers can draw strength and succor through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  11. Dan Woods says:

    Evocative, but needs a fuller treatment. The mother and baby (and father and grandparents-to-be) must be loved, but the precipitating sin must not be swept under rug. By grace we must love without measure, but in truth without compromise.

  12. Link Hudson says:

    Peter A Vandever, it’s a good topic for conversation as this sort of stuff comes up with Pentecostal and Charismatic types from time to time. Why does it have to die? Btw, you could just say, “Hey, I was wrong about that.”

  13. Link Hudson says:

    “Peter A Vandever Hmm. You seem to be rejecting parts of the New Testament and Old Testament as ‘cultural elements.’ At the least, the cultural elements that God regulates would have to be neutral, not evil. Why would bride prices, for example, be evil if God give commandments to Israel about paying them. It demonstrates thet the bride is valuable. Christ even bought us, his bride.

    I dont’ think i get your ‘reject the cultural element’ like of reasoning.”

  14. Link Hudson says:

    Peter A Vandever if a marriage ends in divorce over it, because one of them believes their marriage is ‘prostitution’, then it is definitely not a minor issue for them.

  15. Francisco Arriola says:

    Link you are coming across as someone who is knit picking the bible to attack common christian practices (knit picking is not in the bible, nor is practices) to prove how deeply immersed you are in the scriptures

  16. Francisco Arriola says:

    Link share with us your powerful Acts 4:32 event when you divested yourself along with your brethren of your 401K and other monetary assets and willingly shared them among those who did not or could not save enough for their retirement etc.

  17. Francisco Arriola says:

    pastoral ministry has changed over time, get over it and accept it-make it better, but don’t act like you are above it all by citing all the nt texts of how they did ministry before the telegraph, the newspaper, the telephone, television, and the internet

  18. Link Hudson says:

    Francisco Arriola, understanding Biblical ministry roles and functiong Biblically as a church in these areas may not resonate much with you, but it does resonate with some other people.

  19. Link Hudson says:

    Francisco Arriola, telegraph is irrelevant. Some cultures still have bride prices or other kinds of dowries. These are contemporary issues.

  20. Link Hudson says:

    Francisco, since I own next to nothing but household items and a couple of cars and little more than that, I don’t have a 401 K. Do you have a 401 K? Di dyou give it all away?

  21. Link Hudson says:

    Francisco Arriola, i can relate. i’ve got 4 kids, too. Do my comments on marriage hit a sore spot with you? I’ve spent a lot of years overseas, and I’ve lived in countries that have had some arranged marriage, though it didn’t seem to be the dominant way.

  22. Link Hudson says:

    Francisco Arriola, I’m wondering where the judgment and accusations against me are coming from. I dont’ think I’ve ever even addressed you and you start accusing me of something. Please, can you keep the thread on topic instead of making personal attacks.

  23. Link Hudson says:

    Peter A Vandever, If you called a man’s wife a prostitute just because he was old, and he hit you because of that, then you weren’t suffering for righteousness sake when he hit you.

  24. Byron Benefield says:

    How do you deal with polygamist when they become believers? Do they divorce all but their favorite wife, youngest, or oldest? Keep them all? What about the woman? Should she divorce her husband if she is one of several wives? This too is very real in many parts of the world.

  25. Link Hudson says:

    Byron Benefield, oh, wow, that is a big issue, probably too big for this thread. If someone else wants to take a stab at that, maybe I can join in tomorrow.

  26. Jim Price says:

    It seems that every other day or so the subject of homosexuality comes up on this site and the attitude and the blanket condemnation is the same as I have heard all my christian life. I think that I never knew a homosexual ( that is for sure ) until maybe the last ten years or so. Now I know of and have observed about six for the past decade. They live quite lives, have adopted children, take care of their aging parents and go to work each day.
    It seems to me that only about 2% of the population are homosexual and that the percentage has held steady as for as we can tell by studying history. In no case do they fit the description we find in Genesis 19: 20 where we read; ” extremely evil and that everything they do is wicked.”
    We find many strange things in Genesis, with questions still unanswered. So Abram slept with Hagar. Why did God allow that if He knew that He was going make Sarah pregnant? Then we have the conversation between Abraham and the Lord where the Lord said that He would spare the city if only ten could be found that was innocent. Surely the percentage of righteous people in our country is greater than in Sodom.
    Another observation is that the men acted more like a gang or gangsters V 5 and then this unbelievable statement by Lot; ” I have two virgin daughters. Do with them as you wish.” V 6
    I have read this story over and over again for years and it still is a puzzle and made even more so when one reads about the overwhelming love and mercy one finds in the New Testament.

  27. John Conger says:

    whaaaaaa???? you mean ministers and leaders who commit adultery, embezzelment , or thef and simply get moved from church to church deserves as much outrage as homosexuals???? thats crazy talk

  28. Steve Webb says:

    Overwhelming love and mercy is fine. Homosexuality, though, like any other sexual sin, is a sin. That’s also in the New Testament. Should we condone sin just because they are “good” citizens? Should we warn that good without Christ and turning from sin still leads to hell?
    Sin is a condemnable offense, period. We can’t condemn, but we also can’t condone. Romans is very clear that if you condone homosexuality then you are equally guilty of the sin.

  29. Bro. Jim says:

    Bro. Jim Are you saying homosexuality is not bad. What exactly are you saying? Such bills are complected. Just look at the GA pastor protection but I cannot agree that the Bible is wrong about the spirit of homosexuality being aggressive and destructive to our humanity

  30. Jim Price says:

    That’s a complicated bill and is likely to make things worst for all party’s concerned. When I was in the printing and publishing business I refused to print for the KKK, they could have sued but I explained in a kind way that I just didn’t feel right producing their material. I did the same for a night club. State legislators are known for creating work for their lawyer friends.

  31. Steve Webb says:

    Why is it suddenly terrible to ban immoral behavior. For many years, in every state, deviant sexual behavior was a punishable offense in society. It isn’t complicated. But too often we’ve lost sight of important matters. If the church stood strong we wouldn’t need illegal interference from government to dictate our lives.

  32. Ricky Grimsley says:

    Homosexuality is a sin. It is not consistent with a christian lifestyle. That said, we have to make sure that we have a consistent gospel. Two preachers slapping each other on that back and lusting after a pretty girl that goes by is just as much a sin being gay. We all have flesh and with that comes desires that we have to say “no” to to live holy. We have to preach the truth but we need to live the truth as well. Are we as quick to call out alcoholics, dirty joke tellers, gossipers, fornicators, non-tithers, people in adulterous marriages, etc.?

  33. Terry Wiles says:

    Read “After The Ball”, they’re own manifesto and understand their agenda or “Making Gay OK” and you will discover the reason for God declaring it a sin. The issue of gay marriage is about far more than sexual practices. It is about the transforming of the very fabric of society; the radical reordering of society’s views of reality.

  34. Karen Lucas says:

    For Pentecostals, especially Wesleyan Pentecostals who traditionally place a high value on scripture and consider the nature of scripture to be instructive and transformative, the issue is not whether homosexuals are sinning. That’s a given for anyone who takes scripture and the tradition of the church as being a good indication of what orthodoxy should entail. The issue is how we should treat homosexuals and prepare to minister to them and what role should they or any blatant sinner or addict be permitted to engage in on the local church level. The question is, how should churches respond to the LGBT community? How do we speak truth in love to them? Are we able to have a “Come as you are.” mentality?
    Jim Price, I think the problem you keep bumping into is the way you interpret God’s will in scripture. Good dies not intervene in human decisions, he tries to influence them instead. He wants us to choose him. Soon confess when we don’t. Destruction of various kinda come add a result of poor decisions. The Bible merely recorded that fact with much of these stories you are referencing from the Old Testament. The New Testament also contains several very clear references to homosexuality and other sexually deviant behavior as sin and also as an indication of a society or a mind that had reached a point of moral depravity. The guesswork confess in to say, “This is what some of you were!” In other words, there is redemption. Many Christians are former homosexuals, adulterers, liars, thieves, etc…. God knows how to redeem people’s lives and the time. That’s the good news….even for homosexuals who think they were born that way. We are all born in sin. All of us are born bent towards one or more particular types of sin…..BUT God who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from All unrighteousness. That’s the good news.

  35. Louise Cummings says:

    Sorry. I haven’t heard if it ever changed. So many things has been changed. But I haven’t heard if that one has. That’s what the Bible said. And I know it hasn’t changed. I know I don’t need to speak behind everything. But I wanted to say if someone has been delivered from that sin. I really don’t know how the Church Of God feels about that. Or if you have been delivered I really don’t know how God would feel about it if you have been washed and cleansed by The Blood Of The Lamb.

  36. John Conger says:

    God sent fiery serpents to kill thousands for fornication. And I think it’s safe to say more damage has been done to the family and by extension children of divorce. no restoration for homosexuals. I don’t see any justification for it. Isn’t repentance repentance? Now having said that I don’t care how much a child molester repented I’d never let him lead a boys club

    1. Jackie Moody says:

      Repentance means to be remorseful, regret, and also yo turn away.
      The word of God says in Jeremiah31:3. With love and kindness have I drawn thee.
      God wants us to draw everyone, regardless, with Love, and kindness.
      God Bless

  37. Louise Cummings says:

    The Bible says He cast our sins as far from the east is from the west. Or the sea of forgetfulness. Never to remember them against us any more. So if you are forgiven I believe they are forgiven. If they feel they are called to preach. All I know pray until you get an answer. But I see well what you are saying. I feel the same way. But it seems like they have changed and forgiven. God would lead in a different way. But I really don’t know what God would do. The Scripture just came to me. In The Lords Prayer. He said led us not into temptation. He also tells us not to give place to the devil. Seems to me if that has been a life style for you. That would be putting yourself in a place of temptation. Even if you are forgiven , don’t give place to the devil.

  38. David Lewayne Porter says:

    I believe we are too light in handling sexual sins of all natures. There is a reason God Labels homosexuality as a sex of abomination and not just a sin. Notice this, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. Notice according to this series of Scriptures sexual sin is a different classification of sin and has different results “done against the body, ye temple of The Holy Ghost”. (Notice sinning against the body the temple of the Holy Spirit). Who are we to re-classify God’s classification? Here’s one for you, “Why did Acts 5:1 Ananias and Sapphira his wife, have to die (unless lying to God and to His Spirit is Blasphemy)? Here is another one, Acts 12 Herod died instantly for receiving praise…. Here is the point, God created us, He set the limits, He set the requirements, He alone knows. Our job is to keep His standard and walk as close to Him and what He requires, instead of around the edges and outer fringes. If they are genuine repentant and doing the ministry of God then God will open the doors “and their gifting will make room for them”.

  39. John Conger says:

    If we are going to talk about more destructive sin, does anyone believe homosexuality has destroyed more than adultery? Used to be an abomination

  40. Randy H Johnson says:

    I believe that church law develops sometimes after years of experience with an issue and what we read in the Minutes is a distillation of that experience in just a few words. For example, the judgment of James in Acts 15 illustrates this regarding how the Gentiles were to be received into the church. The indication is that there was quite a lengthy debate about the issue.

  41. Ricky Grimsley says:

    There is no scriptural basis to deny restoration to homosexuals nor any to deny past sinners from getting credentials once they have be saved. Its ludicrous. Paul was a murderer.

  42. Louise Cummings says:

    He didn’t commit the murder himself but set it up where Bathsheba husband Uriah would be put on front , the most dangerous place in war. Where he knew he would get killed. But one thing about David. He was always quick to repent. Even through his mistakes , you can tell he had a heart for God. Because the Bible says He was a man after Gods Own Heart. I’m sorry some where I thought you were talking about David. I don’t know how I figured that. It was when I read about Apostles. I realized you were talking about Paul. I’m sorry. I think I get my mind on more than one thing at a time. But I apologize. I’m sorry I didn’t have my mind on the same subject.

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