For the first time in history the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage throughout the nation on Friday, June 26, creating a challenge for churches and Christian organizations that believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman.
David Hardage, executive director for Texas Baptists, which has around 5,400 affiliated Baptist churches, said: "The Baptist General Convention of Texas is committed to loving, caring and treating all people with grace and respect. Also, we continue to affirm our long held understanding of the biblical view of marriage as that between one man and one woman."
In the ruling, the Supreme Court determined that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and disallows states to ban same-sex marriage. This raises question as to how churches that oppose same-sex marriage are to respond when approached about renting facilities.
Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission, a ministry of Texas Baptists, said:
"Despite the Court's ruling today, the Christian Life Commission continues to support and affirm biblical marriage as a holy union between one man and one woman.
"In light of today's ruling, we encourage Texas Baptist churches to consider taking the following steps: First, we recommend churches adopt bylaws and employment policies that clearly define biblical marriage and protect church property from use in same-sex ceremonies.
"Additionally, ministers who do not agree with the state's understanding of marriage may wish to refrain from signing state marriage licenses and move to offering a covenant marriage consistent with biblical teaching.
"We respect the Supreme Court decision as the law of the land, but we believe in One who is higher than national laws, and ultimately we must submit to God's authority. Marriage is a God-designed and God-ordained institution, and no Supreme Court decision can redefine what has been defined by God."
The CLC offers examples of how churches can adopt bylaws and define their policies at the CLC website: texasbaptists.org/samesexmarriage.
The CLC speaks to Texas Baptists on various ethical and public policy issues from a Christian and biblical perspective. The CLC also promotes efforts to reduce hunger and poverty through various church ministries and the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering.