Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

Ohio Ministries Response to SCOTUS Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

Information Regarding the Supreme Court Ruling

The June 26, 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage has sent the church world reeling. Questions like, “How can we protect ourselves as the church?” already have been coming to me. I’ve done a bit of reading on the matter and I share with you a publication by the Alliance Defending Freedom that is free that outlines what you can do in your bylaws and other policy documents to protect yourself from being forced to perform same-sex marriages or from your facilities being used for the same purpose.

The booklet can be found at the following link:

https://erlc.com/store/product_detail/18876

The booklet gives the following as a checklist for churches to follow that necessitates the writing of a number of documents that then must become the official stance of the church. The checklist of documents needed is as follows:

  1. A Statement of Faith.
  2. Religious Employment Criteria
  3. Facility Use Policy
  4. Formal Membership Policy

Marriage Policy

My understanding (remember that I am not a lawyer) is that already there is some measure of protection for the local church and pastor given the resolutions previously passed by our national assembly. On June 26, 2014 the General Assembly of the Church of God passed the attached resolution that can be found at the following link:

http://www.jesusisthesubject.org/files/downloads/documents/ga/ResolutionMinisterial-FacilityProtectionAgainstForcedOfficiating-HostingOfSame-SexMarriages.pdf

However, if your local church wants to have assurance that you are protected, you may want to consider creating the documents needed as listed above and in making the necessary amendments to your church bylaws.

Your state office will attempt to get some example documents for you to follow as templates but, as in all such matters, we encourage you to seek legal counsel on whatever you do.

As Christian believers we need to be aware that while the Supreme Court has redefined the meaning of marriage, Jesus is still Lord and God is still sovereign. Take heart in that.

In service,

Randy Spence
Director of Ministries

2014 GA Resolution Regarding Same-Sex Marriage
Per the 2014 GA approved resolution, “Ministerial/Facility Protection Against Forced Officiating/Hosting of Same-Sex Marriages” the following wording changes have been made in the Credentials Manual 2011 Edition.

In section 6.11 under “Expected Aspirations of a Church of God Congregation” add “P” which will read:

Restricts the use of all properties owned from any event or program at odds with the mission or teachings with the Church of God movement (Anderson, IN), represented formally by the actions of the movement’s General Assembly in North America. This includes facility use for same-sex marriage ceremonies. (See Credentials Manual supplemental resource, “Restriction on use of facilities”, for sample wording for a facilities restriction clause in by-laws and articles of incorporation.)

In section 7.31 dealing with “Ministerial Actions Requiring Discipline”

Change the wording of ‘F,” to read: Promulgating or espousing teaching and practice contrary to the Word of God as commonly understood by the Church of God movement (see section 2.13). This includes the performing of same-sex marriage ceremonies and the offering of church facilities for such ceremonies.”