How Churches Confront the New Reality of Gay Marriage

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 29, 2015 | Go to article overview

How Churches Confront the New Reality of Gay Marriage


Byline: Rachel Zoll AP Religion Writer

At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling "an affront in the face of Almighty God."

The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent "depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion," the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.

"But we are not discouraged," Jeffress said. "We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it."

On the first Sunday after the high court ruling, theological conservatives grappled with their new status as what the Southern Baptists call "a moral minority" on marriage. Ministers were defiant about publicly upholding their views, and warned church members to prepare themselves for a rough time ahead.

"Welcome to the new world. It's just changed for you Christians. You are going to be persecuted," Alabama's Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said from the pulpit at the Kimberly Church of God, in Kimberly, Ala.

Moore, who fought a losing battle to keep a Ten Commandments monument he erected inside Alabama's state judicial building, said the decision went against the laws of nature.

"Is there such a thing as morality anymore? Sodomy for centuries was declared to be against the laws of nature and nature's God. And now if you say that in public, and I guess I am, am I violating somebody's civil rights? Have we elevated morality to immorality? Do we call good, bad? What are we Christians to do?"

In their dissents to the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, each expressed similar concerns. First Amendment protections for clergy and worship are clear, leaving churches to decide who they will marry. But religious liberty protections are less certain for faith-based charities, schools and hospitals that want to hire and fire based on religious beliefs.

At liberal churches, pastors and congregants rejoiced, as gay pride celebrations were held around the country.

"In one decision we've swiftly moved people from being second-class citizens to first-class," said the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas, who was leading Sunday's worship at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, a megachurch formed years ago as a spiritual refuge for gays. …

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