Today is a sad day for America.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled:
“The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.”
As a Christian minister and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, I am deeply concerned with the Court’s redefinition of marriage and the negative effects that it may have on religious freedom.
Scripture, Marriage, and Religious Freedom
Scripture defines marriage solely in terms of the union of a man and a woman (e.g., Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:5-9; cf. Genesis 1:27-28, 2:20-24; Ephesians 5:21-32). Not only that, Scripture prohibits same-sex intercourse (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; cf. Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). When it comes to same-sex marriage, Scripture prohibits what the Supreme Court permits.
As Christians, Assemblies of God adherents affirm that the Bible determines what we believe and how we behave. Our Statement of Fundamental Truths puts it this way: “The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and practice.” And: “The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct” (emphasis added).
Our Scripture-based definition of marriage and understanding of sexual morality shapes what our Constitution and Bylaws require as behavioral standards for credentialed ministers, finds reflection in the Assemblies of God position paper on homosexuality, and provides the rationale for the conduct codes of our denominational offices, affiliate organizations, and colleges and universities.
I am grateful that in its decision the Supreme Court acknowledged that our opposition to same-sex marriage and behavior arises from “good faith” rather than animus. I am deeply concerned, however, about how the Court will rule when government laws and regulations that reflect its redefinition of marriage conflict with our biblical behavioral standards.
- Will public accommodation laws be interpreted to require Assemblies of God congregations to rent their sanctuaries to same-sex weddings if they also rent their sanctuaries to weddings involving a man and a woman?
- Will Assemblies of God ministers be required to solemnize same-sex marriages?
- Will Assemblies of God colleges and universities be required to enroll same-sex married students, even though that constitutes a violation of their student conduct codes?
- Will our schools be able to access federal student loans and grants if our student conduct codes prohibit same-sex behavior?
- Will Assemblies of God organizations that provide psychological counseling, adoption services, or other services that require professional licenses be stripped of their licenses because of their faith-based opposition to same-sex marriage and behavior?
- Will Assemblies of God organizations lose their tax-exempt status because of their opposition to same-sex marriage because of the Bob Jones precedent?
The answer to these questions based on the First Amendment should be a straightforward, “No!” But in oral arguments about Obergefell before the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli himself admitted, when asked a question such as these: