Christianity & Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage has become legal throughout the United States for the first time in history. This change represents a culture shift that has been both rapid and momentous. American Christians who seek to build their faith from the Bible find that several ethical/theological positions are relevant to discussion of and response to the issue. Marriage, family, sexual behavior, church and state, religious liberty, and evangelism are all important to the discussion from a biblical Christian perspective.


Contact:

Ferrell Foster
Director, Ethics & Justice, Christian Life Commission

(512) 473-2288


A Guideline for Preparing your Church in the Midst of Cultural Changes

Each Baptist church is an autonomous religious and legal entity. While Baptists share core principles, individual churches have the responsibility for determining how they will function based on their theology and current law. While the law sets certain standards for operation, each church has flexibility within those standards.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot prohibit same-sex marriage. These questions and guidelines are designed to help your church think through ways to prepare for that ruling in addition to other potential religious liberty challenges.


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Please note all appendices are located in the downloadable PDF.

I. Does your church have a Constitution and Bylaws?

  1. Adopt a Constitution and Bylaws:The church constitution subjects the bylaws to Scripture and establishes the local church body's autonomy in faith and practice. Church bylaws provide stability and continuity of the church faith and practice while still allowing for amendments. These documents both provide structure for and protect the religious liberties of the church and its members.

II. Have the Constitution and Bylaws been updated recently to reflect current church practices and changes to state, federal and local laws?

  1. Review your Constitution and Bylaws regularly: It is important to modify and update your church bylaws to address both changes to your church and changes in society. As new laws are enacted and then applied by courts, churches need to update their bylaws to maximize their religious liberty protections.
  2. Uniformly apply church bylaws and policies: The law protects the "sincerely held" religious beliefs of churches and individuals. When churches make exceptions to their stated beliefs, the beliefs do not appear sincere. Make certain your church policies are consistent across all documents and your church practices are consistent with written policies.

III. Does your Constitution and Bylaws include a statement of religious beliefs?

  1. Include a statement of religious beliefs in the church bylaws: It is important that churches include a list of their foundational doctrinal beliefs in the church bylaws. Part of the reason for reviewing church bylaws is to allow for amendments to the statement of religious beliefs.
  2. Include specific statements about marriage: We recommend that every church include a definition of marriage in its statement of religious beliefs and a statement of how those beliefs will influence specific church actions in regard to marriages.* See Appendix A for sample definitions; located within the downloadable PDF.

*Bylaws that affirm the doctrinal statement of the Baptist Faith and Message as adopted in 1963 or 2000 will not alone protect a church. Bylaws should state the church's definition of marriage and also include language that limits the involvement of church staff and property in marriages that fall outside of the church's beliefs.

IV. Have you Established a Facility Use Policy?

  1. Establish a church wedding policy: Churches need to establish a comprehensive wedding policy to work in tandem with the statement of religious beliefs found in the bylaws. The wedding policy should repeat the church's beliefs and stance on marriage and provide greater detail regarding which marriages the church pastors and staff will solemnize. A good wedding policy can reduce confusion about church beliefs and practices regarding marriage and maximize church religious liberty protections. See Appendix B for a sample policy.
  2. Establish a broader facilities use policy: Every church that owns property and allows it to be used outside standard church operation needs a facilities policy. See Appendix C for a sample policy.
    • Review the ministries of your church and the manner in which the church is using its current facilities. Evaluating how the church is using its current property will assist the church in creating a policy that is customized to the church's specific ministry and mission.
    • Create a comprehensive facility use policy that clearly describes the religious nature of the building. This policy should work in tandem with the statement of religious beliefs in the church bylaws and restrict use of the facilities to those acting in a manner consistent with those beliefs.
    • The facilities use policy should repeat the church's beliefs and stance on marriage (or refer to and provide the beliefs statement) and provide greater detail on what uses of the facilities are inconsistent with the religious purpose of the building.
    • If your church rents to outside organizations, consider renting at rates that are below market value. Whether a church's use of the facility looks more like a ministry of the church or a for-profit business engaged in commerce can be significant in determining whether the church's religious liberty is protected. By renting church facilities at less than market rate, the church indicates to courts that the renting of the facility is a ministry.

V. Do church employees and volunteers understand the church bylaws ?

  1. Consider creating a comprehensive personnel policy that clearly describes how each position furthers the church's religious purpose: The personnel policy should include religious job descriptions for every employment position and religious descriptions of the responsibilities of volunteers. Connecting the work done by the employee or volunteer to the religious mission of the church will maximize the church's religious liberty when making employment decisions.
    • Require all employees and volunteers to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with church beliefs and practices as articulated in the church bylaws and policies. Churches should already be requiring employees and volunteers to sign agreements covering background checks, child/sexual abuse reporting, etc. Consider requiring employees and volunteers to sign an agreement to follow church beliefs and practices. Keep these agreements on file.
    • If the church is limiting employment opportunities based on religious grounds (e.g. choosing not to hire a minister of a different faith), clearly state the religious grounds in the job descriptions and personnel policy.
    • Uniformly apply all employment standards and practices as articulated in the bylaws and personnel policy.

This guideline has been provided for demonstrative purposes only. All church constitutions, bylaws, and policies should be carefully considered by church leadership to ensure it properly reflects church doctrine, practices, and beliefs. Legal documents including church bylaws should also be reviewed by an attorney.

Have more questions?

Contact:

Church Administration and Policies
David Adams, Director of Church Administration, (214) 828-5253

Bylaws
John Litzler, Legal Consultant, (903) 243-5576

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Marriage

What we call marriage today began as an act of creation. The Bible tells of God creating male and female persons. But God did not simply create them and put them in the garden; God told them to do something.

God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" (Genesis 1:28, NRSV).

This first marriage had as its God-given purpose the desired end of fruitfulness – children. This marriage and those to follow are to reproduce and to take on a responsibility for the whole of God's creation. Many couples give birth biologically, others take on the responsibility of fruitfulness by means that value the lives of children who need parents, such as through adoption and foster care.

A man and woman's togetherness does not and does not come without cost. Each must leave something behind in order to pursue their purposes together.

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24, NRSV).

Jesus referenced these words about one flesh and added,

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Matthew 19:6, NRSV).

Sex, of course, is part of marriage because it is required to fulfill God's purposes, to help a couple bond, and for basic pleasure in one another. The Bible is not shy about sex, and it also deals with the importance of fidelity within marriage. The following verses speak from a man's perspective, but similar words could be written from a woman's view.

Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
May her breasts satisfy you at all times;
may you be intoxicated always by her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, by another woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? (Proverbs 5:18-20, NRSV)

Marriage in the Old Testament, however, did not always measure up to the standards God established. Wealthy and powerful men in the Old Testament often reflected the reality of the broader world culture in that they had multiple wives and even concubines.

Despite what was, there always has been what ought to be. The Apostle Paul talked about the value of being single in order to do God's work, but he was also practical. If a person could not resist temptations to sexual immorality, then "each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband" ( 1 Corinthians 7:2, NRSV). Note the singular husband and wife.

Paul also spoke of how a man and a woman should relate to one another. In Ephesians, Paul compared the relationship of a husband and a wife to the relationship of Christ and the church. He spoke of love and submission. Specifically, he said men are to love their wives and women are to submit to their husbands, and he then adds the following:

This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband (Ephesians 5:32-33, NRSV).

The writer of Hebrews expressed the value of marriage and the dangers it faces in regard to sexual matters.

Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Hebrews 13:4, NRSV).

As our nation faces the issue of same-sex marriage, it is good for all of us to think again about God's ideal for marriage. Gender difference is a definite part of godly marriage, but faithfulness and fidelity between a husband and a wife also are critical.

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Family

As stated in the first chapter of the Bible, the purpose of "marriage" was and is to produce a fruitful family.

God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. . . ." (Genesis 1:28a, NRSV)

Fruitfulness produces relationships. Scripture says God created woman because "it is not good that the man should be alone" ( Genesis 2:18, NRSV). In other words, people do not need to be completely alone; they need others in their lives. Adam received a wife and then children; they all had each other.

The Psalmist spoke of this blessing of family in this way:

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;" (Psalm 127:3-5a, NKJV).

Family brings blessing, but it also involves responsibility – for parents and children. Parents are to teach, to discipline without provoking, and to be an example for their children.

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ( Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NRSV)

And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4, NRSV)

Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. . . . He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. (2 Chronicles 26:3-4, NRSV)

And children are to honor, to obey, to receive instruction from parents, and to care for parents with needs.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12, NRSV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1, NRSV)

Hear, my child, your father's instruction, and do not reject your mother's teaching; (Proverbs 1:8, NRSV)

If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God's sight. (1 Timothy 5:4, NRSV)

And then there is a broader responsibility to family and relatives.

And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8, NRSV)

The instruction from Scripture is so practical and so straightforward. The words guide Christians even as they are difficult to consistently follow.

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Sexual Behavior

The Bible provides guidance for our proper understanding of sex and for responsible sexual behavior. The Bible teaches that sex is neither a deity nor a demon. The Bible shows that sex is God's good gift, and God intends it for the enrichment and fulfillment of human life.

God created two genders, and they are part of God's good creation.

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NRSV)

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. ... (Genesis 1:31, NRSV).

The Bible teaches that the proper place for sexual intercourse is within the covenant of the marriage relationship between a man and a woman.

But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband (1 Corinthians 7:2-3, NRSV).

Within the marriage covenant, there are several purposes of sexual intercourse.

  1. Sexual intercourse establishes a "one-flesh" union.

    Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24, NRSV).

    He [Jesus] answered, "Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,'
    and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." (Matthew 19:4-6, NRSV).

  2. Sexual intercourse provides an intimate means whereby a husband and wife come to know each other physically and emotionally. The Bible even refers to sex as a matter of knowing a spouse.

    Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the Lord." (Genesis 4:1, NRSV)

  3. The procreation of children is another purpose of sexual intercourse.

    God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" (Genesis 1:28, NRSV).

  4. One purpose of sexual intercourse is the mutual pleasure of husband and wife.

    Let your fountain be blessed,
    and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
    a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
    May her breasts satisfy you at all times;
    may you be intoxicated always by her love. (Proverbs 5:18-19)

    The Bible teaches that sexual intercourse is not essential for a person to be fulfilled as a human being. God provides the grace for some to live without sexual intercourse.

    Jesus spoke directly to the facts that some people are not capable of sexual intercourse and that God has "appointed" some to live without sexual intercourse.

    "There are different reasons why some men cannot marry. Some men were born without the ability to become fathers. Others were made that way later in life by other people. And some men have given up marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. But the person who can marry should accept this teaching about marriage [that sexual immorality is the only acceptable reason for divorce]." (Matthew 19:9-12, NCV).

    Jesus noted that there is one acceptable reason for ending a marriage – sexual infidelity.

    The Pharisees asked, "Why then did Moses give a command for a man to divorce his wife by giving her divorce papers?" Jesus answered, "Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because you refused to accept God's teaching, but divorce was not allowed in the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery. The only reason for a man to divorce his wife is if his wife has sexual relations with another man." (Matthew 19:7-9, NCV)

The Bible warns against five misuses of sexual behavior.

  1. Premarital and extramarital sexual intercourse.

    … Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. … Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! … Flee sexual immorality. ... (1 Corinthians 6:13, 15, 18a, NKJV).

    It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality
    (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NIV).

    You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14, NRSV).

  2. Incest

    "No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord." (Leviticus 18:6, NIV).

  3. Bestiality

    "Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion." (Leviticus 18:23, NIV).

  4. Homosexual Behavior

    … God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
    (Romans 1:26-27, NRSV)

    … Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NIV)

  5. Lust

    "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27)

God is willing to forgive sin, including sexual sin.

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, NRSV)

… Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NIV)

God's redemptive action in Jesus Christ makes responsible sexual behavior possible.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, NRSV)

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4, NRSV).

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Church and State

When talking about the relationship of church and state, two New Testament passages most often come to mind. In the first, Jesus is speaking; in the second, Paul:

". . . Bring me a denarius and let me see it." And they brought one. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Jesus said to them, "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were utterly amazed at him. (Mark 12:15c-17 NRSV, also Mt. 22:21)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2, NRSV)

  1. The Romans passage is jarring, because we know of evil authorities, evil governments – Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and others. Were they instituted by God?

    In the United States, Americans generally have had no problem with seeing God as establishing our government. In fact, we have trumpeted it as a "light shining on a hill" and spoken of manifest destiny. Native Americans, however, may have seen it differently.

    Romans 13: 1 is tough, but we do not let Romans 13:1 stand alone as determining your theology of church and state. If you do, you will stand by as some terrible things happen.

  2. Paul also wrote this:
  3. When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels — to say nothing of ordinary matters? If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? (1 Cor. 6:1-4, NRSV)

    Paul is saying that genuine believers have a unique wisdom that far exceeds the understanding of the "unrighteous" state. You don't need the state or government to tell you what is right and wrong.

    Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ( 1 Cor. 2:6-8, NRSV)

    Paul dismisses the wisdom of "the rulers of this age" and reminds his readers that the rulers of his age "crucified the Lord of glory."

  4. Bringing Paul's Ideas Together
  5. How do we bring together Romans 13 with 1 Corinthians? The same man wrote about the same authorities from two perspectives. Paul seems to be saying this:

    Respect governmental authority for several reasons.

    A. God has allowed it in His providence.

    B. It serves an important function of bringing order.

    The state should not be resisted flippantly.

    A. Followers of Christ have a wisdom that is above that of rulers.

    B. Do not be surprised when rulers are unwise or even evil.

    Understand how important your role is.

    A. Governments' rule only for a certain time; they are doomed to perish.

    B. A government crucified our savior.

    Paul is mixing respect for governmental authority with the reality that it is limited both in time and in wisdom.

  6. Back to Jesus

  7. Now, back to the first passage. Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar.

    We sometimes take this as Caesar and God having an equal claim upon our lives. Jesus is saying your money belongs to the government. In other words, pay your taxes. Everything else is God's

    We give the state only one part of our lives, the things the state controls. But we do not give the state our whole lives. The United States is not equivalent with the Kingdom of God, which holds our ultimate allegiance.

    Following Paul in Romans 13, we can say that God has allowed all the nations of this world to enjoy certain limited authority for this time in history. In the midst of these temporal authorities, God has raised us up. God has commissioned us to shine His light in this dark world.

    We respect government, but it does not have our final allegiance. For we have given our lives to God. We respect government; we worship only God.

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Religious Liberty

We like to quote the United States Constitution regarding religious liberty, but American Christians proclaimed religious liberty before the Constitution acknowledged its importance. The New Testament speaks a great deal about the importance of freedom in revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Paul spoke of this freedom and the responsibility that comes with it.

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. (Galatians 5:13, NRSV)

Peter strikes the same cord.

As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. (1 Peter 2:16, NRSV)

Paul gives a nod to religious freedom in referencing the legal requirements of Judaism, the religion from which Jewish Christians emerged.

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. (Colossians 2:16, NRSV)

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. (Romans 14:5-6, NRSV)

In his various letters, Paul gave specific instructions on many issues, but when it came to religious practice he offered what some might seem as surprising freedom for people to honor the Lord as they saw fit.

Not all Christians throughout history have been so freedom loving, and this resulted in them even killing fellow Christians, including Baptists, for not worshipping as they did. Baptists and others saw in Scripture that followers of Christ have great freedom, not to do wrong but to pursue worship of God as they determined best. These freedom-loving Christians sought not only their own religious liberty but the freedom for others, as well.

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Making Disciples

Jesus famously told his disciples to make more disciples.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

People who would follow Christ today have a responsibility to do these four things:

  • Go and make disciples,
  • Baptize them,
  • Teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded, and
  • Remember Christ is with us.

We are not merely to get people to say they accept Jesus as their Savior; we are to help them become, like the first disciples, genuine followers of Christ. Imperfect, of course, but they will be learners and imitators of the One who gives salvation.

We are to baptize them in the Trinity, thus symbolizing their death to self and new life with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are not alone any longer. The one God is manifested in our lives as the giver and sustainer of life, as the living Word, and as the ever-present Spirit breathing life and comfort into our souls.

We are to teach these new disciples that part of following Jesus is obeying His commands -- doing what God has told us to do. This deals with all aspects of our lives as we seek to apply the truths of Scripture.

And we are to never forget that Christ is with us. The truth is that sometimes when we follow Christ we can begin to feel all alone in a hostile world. We are not.

As Christians seek to live for Christ, it is good to remember that we live in such a way as to draw others to life in Christ. People came to Christ because they sensed His love and compassion for them. People today should sense the same love and compassion coming from Christ followers.

As we seek to obey Christ and the teachings of Scripture, it is good to remember that non-Christians do not have the same guiding principles at work in their lives; they do not seek to obey the Lord because they have not accepted His lordship. Many non-Christians are good people in many ways, but they are not looking to Jesus and the Bible as a guide for what is right and wrong.

We should not be surprised when non-believers do not see life as we do. We should seek to help them come to know this Jesus whom we seek to follow.

Of course, even among Christians, we will differ because none of us have arrived yet at Christ's perfection. We are still seeking to understand and to obey and to love as Jesus did. In our seeking, we learn to appreciate God's grace toward us and pray we can have this same grace toward others.

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Civil Discourse

Scripture speaks about how we should deal with one another. James gives us simple yet powerful advice:

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. (James 1:19-20, NRSV)

The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the Christians in Ephesians, but we can apply it to all of our relationships:

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32, NRSV)

Humility is such an important virtue. The writer of Proverbs said, "Before destruction one's heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor" ( Proverbs 18:12, NRSV). And Paul wrote these words:

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ( Ephesians 4:1-3, NRSV)

Scripture tells us to guard our words, but it also tells us to speak to God about our concerns and to listen to God's voice through the Word and the Spirit. Timothy wrote the following:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:1-2, NRSV)

Jesus said His followers listen to Him, and He promised to guard them.

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28, NRSV)

As we deal with issues in the broader society, Scripture should guide us both in helping us shape our worldview and in helping us know how to relate to others, especially to those with whom we disagree.

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Talking about Same-Sex Marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage throughout the nation. Surveys also indicate a growing acceptance of same-sex marriage by people throughout the country.

The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission stands by the position that homosexual behavior is outside the will of God, just as are premarital and extramarital heterosexual behavior. Also, the CLC affirms the biblical position that marriage is to be between one man and one woman.

For those who hold these two positions, it is good that we be caring and compassionate in how we speak about this issue. Here are three brief suggestions on how to address these issues, especially when talking with non-Christians:

  1. God loves all people and desires the best for us. In order to express this love and to help us, God has communicated principles of right and wrong.
  2. The Bible says there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to express sexual desire. Sex is to be between one woman and one man in a committed relationship, what we call marriage.
  3. The Bible also says all people have sinned; we mess up. Such behavior hurts us and offends God, but God is willing to forgive all of us of our shortcomings and to help us live a God-honoring life.
  4. I believe homosexual behavior is wrong and same-sex marriage does not promote a healthy family environment for children, but I genuinely care about people involved in such lifestyles, just as I love those involved in other lifestyles about which I disagree.

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