Churches and religious organizations face a rapidly-changing American culture. Many churches are confronting things they never thought they would a decade ago. The issues of same-sex marriage, homosexual behavior, and gender-identity, are among the emerging issues that confront churches today. The legal impact of these issues on churches can appear confusing.
In responding to a culture seemingly bent on fulfilling every whim of the sexual revolution, today’s churches must take the time to revise or implement their statement of faith on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. Churches who know their position on these issues may think it unnecessary, but every church must understand that culture at large no longer subscribes to a Judeo-Christian sexual ethic or morality. As one pastor recently put it, the church is no longer the “home team” in America. As a result, it is important for a church to put in writing what it believes on the issues confronting culture. And from a legal perspective, it is always better to act in advance. If a church is ever required to legally prove its religious beliefs on these issues, having written evidence will ensure that it can do so easily.
So, here is some advice and resources to start the process at your church:
1. Adopt or revise your statement of faith to include the church’s religious beliefs on marriage and human sexuality. Alliance Defending Freedom has a resource that explains the importance of including these issues in your statement of faith. Feel free to download and print this document for your church leaders.
2. Use the suggested language put together by Alliance Defending Freedom as a guide for statements of faith on marriage and human sexuality for your church.
3. Put it in your own words as your church would state it. There is no “magic” or legally required language to adopt in your statement of faith. Instead, this simply state the church’s religious beliefs on the issue of marriage and human sexuality
4. If you are in the process of revising your bylaws, review the resource by Alliance Defending Freedom entitled Protecting Your Ministry.
Taking proactive steps to update or implement your church’s statement of faith will strengthen a defense should one be legally necessary in the future. Please take advantage of these resources or call us at (800) 835-5233 if you have specific legal questions.