On Friday morning, a mere two hours after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage the new law of the land, almost 100 church leaders signed onto an Evangelical Declaration on Marriage acknowledging “The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman” and “Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift.”
Among the signers includes J.I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College, Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Samuel Rodriguez, President of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Carmen Fowler LaBerge, President of Presbyterian Lay Committee, Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, Ramon Osorio, Hispanic National Church Mobilizer, and many more.
For people of faith, the Obergefell et al. v. Hodges ruling does acknowledge people of faith’s constitutional right to live according to their convictions. The majority opinion reads, “[T]hose who adhere to religious doctrines, and others have protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” However, only time will tell how this declaration plays out in reality for pastors, church sanctuaries, faithful florists, bakers, photographers, faith-based schools and religious individuals.
Here’s is a rundown of additional reactions and official statements by denominations and church leaders regarding the Supreme Court marriage decision:
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage decision to require all states to license and recognize same-sex marriage “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us.”
The USCCB’s statement read, “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable.”
George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, shared, “I am deeply troubled by the Supreme Court’s actions today in Obergefell v. Hodges. What the Court can make legal, they cannot make moral.”
Representing the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, Wood explained, “The Assemblies of God will continue to remain firmly committed to the understanding of marriage between one man and one woman — a belief founded in scripture that no court can alter.”
The Archbishop and Bishops of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) expressed their disappointment in the ruling stating in a press release, “While this decision grieves us, God’s truth and the goodness of the order established in creation have not been changed. The kingdom of God cannot be shaken.”
Currently gathered in Vancouver, British Columbia ACNA continued, “We cannot accept the Supreme Court’s decision purporting to find a fundamental right to same-sex ‘marriage’ any more than we can accept its claim to have found a right to destroy human life. We will work with others to overturn this decision, and we pray that others will join with us in this effort.”
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s president, Dr. Russell Moore, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, “This is a sober moment.” He continues, “The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?”
Dr. Moore points out this is not a time for faithful Christians to panic, but stand firm in knowing that the Gospel is still alive and well, and fully capable of transforming lives. “The church will need in the years ahead to articulate what we believe about marriage; we cannot assume that people agree with us, or even understand us,” For Moore, the Supreme Court marriage ruling, “gives the church an opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a press release offered, “Everything has changed and nothing has changed. The Supreme Court’s decision today is a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman and in a five to four decision the nation’s highest court has now imposed its mandate redefining marriage on all fifty states.”
Mohler continued, “The threat to religious liberty represented by this decision is clear, present, and inevitable. Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman.”
United Methodist Bishop Lindsey Davis of the Kentucky Annual Conference responded, “While I am personally disappointed in teh Supreme Court’s decision to alter the government’s definition of marriage to include same-gender couples, their decision is not much of a surprise.” He wrote, “I reamain hopeful that the United Methodist Church will remain faithful to the biblical understanding that marriage is a lifetime covenant between a man and a woman.”
Of course, not all denominations are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s disassembling of the definition of marriage.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori released an official statement declaring, “I rejoice that the Supreme Court has opened the way for the love of two people to be recognized by all the states of this Union, and that the Court has recognized that it is this enduring, humble love that extends beyond the grave that is to be treasured by society wherever it exists.”
Rev. Schori continued, “Our society will be enriched by the public recognition of such enduring faithful love in families headed by two men or two women as well as by a woman and a man. The children of this land will be stronger when they grow up in families that cannot be unmade by prejudice or discrimination. May love endure and flourish wherever it is to be found.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons celebrated the decision, expressing, “The PC(USA) has advocated for almost four decades for civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is in keeping with that work.”
Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson included, “Our task now is to educate congregations and address how the church is to engage society and our differences. It’s much more than a gay/lesbian issue. We are seeing laws overturned in favor of communities that have not always been represented.”
All hope is not lost. The Church now faces a greater need to offer Christ’s restorative mercy, love, healing and transformation. As Mac Brunson, pastor of the Southern Baptist convention affiliated church First Baptist of Jacksonville, Florida winsomely tweeted:
#SCOTUS just promised a nation/generation what it cannot deliver. The Church/Christians must be ready for the disillusioned & despairing.
— mac brunson (@macbrunson) June 26, 2015