On Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 President Obama declared “unequivocal support” for gay marriage. This made front page news on both the Chicago Tribune and The Daily Herald Kane County edition on Thursday morning. This is an historic pronouncement. There will be people asking about it, talking about it, and wondering where the Church and all the many different churches stand. The Evangelical Covenant Church as a denomination teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that marriage so described is the only appropriate setting for a sexual relationship. This is our position as the Evangelical Covenant Church of Elgin, Illinois, and it is my personal conviction as its pastor. A Covenant Pastor who performs a solemn union or a marriage of same-sex persons would be subject to discipline and censure.
As for what governments and empires must or must not legislate concerning individuals who bind themselves to common domestic interests, the Evangelical Covenant has taken no position. The interests of the secular power and the historic faiths of the religious bodies present in the United States will come into conflict on this matter if and when:
1. Government begins to insist that certified pastors who enjoy clergy tax benefits, and churches that enjoy exemptions, must perform such unions and marriages under “equal access” provisions.
2. The government defines the preaching of a religious body’s authoritative scriptures on sexual behaviors as “hate speech.”
Such things might never occur. It might be that all levels of government in the United States will continue to respect the long-standing presence and witness of religious fellowships in their communities, and continue to extend the freedoms which are both guaranteed by the nation’s constitution and constrained by the religious conscience.
Nevertheless believers in Jesus are called to stand up for our faith when the pervasive culture makes it easy to do, and we are called to stand up for our faith when the pervasive culture makes it hard to do. For more thoughts on this issue, please go to the “Hot Topics” page.