Statement of the Church of God Regarding Same-Sex Marriage Court Decision
The June 26, 2015, ruling by the Supreme Court legitimizes same-sex marriage in all 50 states and overturns all state laws to the contrary. In a 33-page opinion, five of the nine justices agreed that no difference exists between same-sex marriage and the traditionally held union of a man and woman. Based on their interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, they declared that no legal impediment should stand in the way of any couple who wishes to marry.
In a clarifying statement at the conclusion of the written opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy made it clear that the ruling did not forbid churches from continuing to oppose the idea of homosexual marriage.
He stated, “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
The Church of God stands with fellow Christians who understand that God intended marriage to be between a man and woman, as explained in Genesis and confirmed by Jesus, when He declared that the Creator has “made them male and female,” and that “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Our church joined in the Supreme Court case by means of an amicus brief requesting consideration for this millennia-old view of marriage propounded by Scripture.
We urge the pastors and members of the Church to continue to hold high the biblical standard for godly marriage. A legal definition of marriage may have changed, but the orthodox understanding based on God’s revelation has not changed. We call upon men and women to demonstrate to a confused world the fulfillment that results when they covenant in marriage to practice faithful and sacrificial love. Action by the International General Assembly in 2014 protects pastors and congregations who do not wish to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies, based on First Amendment rights to religious freedom. On that basis, we recommend that each pastor adopt the following personal statement that echoes the official church action:
- I am a minister of the gospel, credentialed by the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee).
- It is the long-established biblical/religious belief and polity of the Church of God, which belief and polity I adhere to, that marriage is a spiritual union in which a man and woman are joined by God to live together as one.
- Based on my personal religious beliefs and the beliefs and polity of my credentialing church, I refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
- I base this refusal on my First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom, and on any and all exemptions granted to me under Federal and State laws.
- This refusal shall extend to my church’s refusal to allow its facilities to be used for same-sex marriages or any celebration relating to same-sex unions.
The ill-considered opinion of the activist members of this Court will have far-reaching and threatening aftereffects in coming months and years. It evidences again the supreme importance of electing a president who will seek out and appoint constitutional jurists rather than judges who would rather be legislators.The Christian Church has understood during most of it existence that it is part of a kingdom that is not of this world. It has faced much hostility and endured much suffering, but it remains steadfast and victorious. We believe that despite the best efforts of antichristian forces, it will ultimately triumph.