On June 26, U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision that allow same-sex couples the right to marry. This ruling put an end to same-sex marriage bans in 14 states and “provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation’s social norms in recent years,” according to the Washington Post. It also put churches, including those who are part of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, who believe that the biblical definition of marriage involves one man and one woman, in the position of responding. Below are comments of several Grace Brethren pastors and leaders following the landmark decision (and shared here with their permission).
While their remarks are consistent with the stand of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC), these are not official statements on behalf of the FGBC. The Fellowship has previously taken a position on the subject of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Click here to read the continuing resolution on homosexuality (first adopted in 2000). Click here to read the resolution on Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, which was adopted by the national conference of the FGBC in 2014.
Randall D. Smith, pastor of Grace Church, Sebring, Fla., posted on his Facebook page on Saturday, June 27:
“When someone glibly asks: ‘How does the court redefinition of marriage affect your family?’ Answer them without delay. ‘This was not about who you love. Since the sodomy laws were struck down, it has not been about legal protections on how you act out your ideas about love. It has been, and will be about one thing: This is about the education of our next generation on the basis and foundational principles of moral behavior. This is about textbooks and state paid teachers instructing our children on what is right and what is wrong with no right to ‘opt out’ of attacks on their core beliefs. This is about redefining the most formative relationships of their young life with new parameters, forcing my children and grandchildren to learn this view, and leaving no room to tolerate the view they have learned in our home, at our church and from our Holy Scriptures. Forgive me if I take any affront to that work both seriously and personally. I have come to believe that is an essential part of the job of a responsible parent.’ The issue isn’t about a bedroom; it is about a classroom, and it directly affects my family.” (Reflections on cultural conversation).
He Who Loves First Wins!
This will most likely NOT be my most popular post. In the face of a historic decision concerning the sanctity of marriage and those who consider themselves Gay, we the Church MUST look and respond like Jesus.
I love that my Jesus did not come to ‘condemn’ the world but to SAVE IT. I am first in line for a need of a Savior.
I love that my Jesus chose to lavish me with His unconditional love. I am the first in line who needs the kind of love that is not ‘because’ or ‘if’ but truly from the heart of a Father who longs to have relationship with his son.
I love that my Jesus chose to sit in the house of a crooked tax collector or the home of a whore or can dwell in my heart that is often cluttered with the vestige of the sinful world that I have grown up in. I am first in line for a true Friend.
In His presence people were ‘safe’ yet Jesus never condoned sin. In His presence people were welcome, yet Jesus never supported the ideals of a fallen world.
Is it the worlds ‘fault’ that they are living in darkness, when the nature of darkness is that it is DARK?
The true problem is that the Jesus has extended to the Church the commission to be the LIGHT of the world. YOU are the light of the world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden. When the light comes into the presence of darkness, the darkness is dispelled. ALWAYS!
JESUS is LOVE. We have an opportunity. We can LOVE or we can hate. We know what is right. There are two and only two spaces in this world; sacred space and desecrated space. It is our job to redeem desecrated space and make it sacred.
How can we show people the light when we are standing in the darkness. Hatred is darkness. The Church has a wide open door of opportunity. Let’s quit fighting the government and start fighting for the hearts of men and women searching for LOVE and Truth.
Are we surprised that the world does not know right from wrong? Are we surprised that they look at the Bible as irrelevant and untrue? Are we surprised that they see Christians as a joke and hypocritical? Wake Up! The ‘god’ of this age has blinded those who have not come into the light of the gospel. They cannot see!
The decisions that men make have consequences. I am perfectly content that the Jesus who loves me and has offered Grace upon Grace and cannot be emptied of Grace or Truth is capable of avenging evil according to His plan. It is true historically that God can wreak havoc on our world due to sin as he did in the days of Noah. It is true that God can choose to take His hand of blessing off of a nation, like He seemingly did in the decision of Roe vs Wade and taking prayer out of the public school system.
It is also true that His blessing belongs to him and is not ours to give or take.
We must simply be faithful in the commission AND the commandment to His followers. The commandment is to LOVE the Lord your God AND to LOVE your neighbor as yourself.
People don’t warm up to haters. People warm up to lovers. People need love.
Let the Church rise. Let’s BE the Church.
He who loves first wins!
Bruce Barlow, lead pastor of the Winona Lake (Ind.) Grace Brethren Church, shared these thoughts from the pulpit on Sunday, June 28:
Few were surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday. Nearly everyone has posted or blogged or tweeted something about it.
I have good news for you: God is not wringing His hands, caught off guard by this! Neither should we be.
A percentage of our nation and culture no longer considers marriage a covenant before God between a man and a woman for life. That’s not new. Marriage is re-defined legally and is now a social, rather than moral or familial, construct. OK, so now what?
Can I suggest this morning several very important next steps for you and me?
- Be rooted in God’s Word. If you aren’t able to name and dialogue about the six passages of the Bible that address this issue, now is the time to dive into God’s Word. Let’s be grounded in what God says before any human opinion.
- Read. You WILL have opportunities to talk about this. Everyone is. So, read up and be prepared. I’m sending you a number of e-mail links that I think will equip us well for dialogue – these are articles on the ruling itself and some of the best, in my opinion, biblical responses since Friday. (links and comments on the articles are below)
- Respond, don’t react. God is not wringing His hands, this is not a surprise. This is a natural next step and consequence in an idolatrous culture. That’s been true in cultures throughout history and is increasingly true in ours now.
- Don’t think about the issue as “out there.” It is “in here.” If the stats are even close – 1 to 1.5 percent of the population dealing with same-sex attraction – it means our church family of more than 1,000 has 15 men or women struggling with this at one level or another, plus others with extended family who are. And for sure, our students have classmates who are struggling with it. These things help me remember this is an issue, a struggle, “in here.”
- Be on mission. Al Mohler wrote this Friday: “We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us. Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again. God’s truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church’s mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”