Seminary Did Not Prepare You For This

Who would have thought that the church would be looking at same-sex marriage, transgender restroom use and sexual harassment policies as part of its church documentation.  But this is the new reality in which the church must function.  Although the new Supreme Court decision imposing same-sex marriage on our country provided some language letting the church know that the First Amendment religious protection was still available to it, rest assured that the same-sex activitists will try to force the church to have to accept their lifestyle by having to perform same-sex marriages in the church officiated by the church’s pastor.

The church needs to be prepared in advance for this attack.  It not a matter of ‘if’ the church will be challenged to have to perform same-sex marriages but ‘when’.  The church needs to begin now to protect itself.

To start with, look to see what if anything your Statement of Faith has to say about marriage in general and human sexuality in particular.  You need to make sure you have a clear statement backed up by scripture as to your position on marriage and human sexuality.  This statement should also be in your bylaws where you limit marriages by the church to a marriage between one biological created man and one biological created woman.

The church needs to establish a marriage policy in writing that limits marriages by the church to church members or those in fellowship with the church.  Such policy should require several weeks of pre-marital counseling before the marriage ceremony. Once established, the policy should be followed to the letter.  Any variance from the policy could void the policy as a protection for the church.  Obviously, the church also needs to have a clear statement as to who qualifies to be a church member which is based on biblical standards of morality and which provides for member discipline including termination of membership.  The membership section of the bylaws should be printed and be available to the members and signed off by each person before they become members.

The church also needs to establish a facilities use policy as to who can use the church facilities.  Limit the users to church members or those in fellowship with the church.  Also limit the uses of the facilities to those activities which are not contrary to the Statement of Faith of the church and its biblical beliefs.

The church needs to be aware of a push by transgender individuals who want to use the restroom of their ‘identified’ sex rather than their ‘biological’ sex.  If the church wants to have their restrooms only used by the same biological sexed individuals, then they should establish a restroom policy which backs up its position by scripture and have it posted at each restroom.  They also might chose to provide a unisex restroom so transgender individuals have a restroom of their own.

Last but not least, make sure you have as part of your employee manual an appropriate sexual harassment policy which sets forth how any sexual harassment shall be reported.  Even in the church, such a policy must be established to protect the church as best as possible.

Times have changed.  As Alice once observed about things, they are getting “Curiouser and curiouser!” Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

We are entering a new period where religious liberty is under attack.  Pastors need to make sure they have access to someone who knows what can be done to protect the church.

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