Official CBMW Statement on the DOMA Decision: How Should the Church Respond?

Official Statement by Owen Strachan
Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (CBMW)
RE: DOMA and Prop 8 decisions
June 26, 2013

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Today, the Supreme Court of the United States of America released two rulings on the matter of marriage. The first related to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the second to Proposition 8 (Prop 8). The court ruled 5-4 in favor of the unconstitutionality of DOMA, which had protected biblical and traditional marriage. The court essentially “passed” on Prop 8. It will take time for all the effects of these cases to be sorted out and enacted. Speaking generally, the outcome of the DOMA ruling is that biblical and traditional marriage will not enjoy federal protection. The outcome of the Prop 8 decision is that the way is clear for same-sex marriage in California.

It is impossible to predict the future, but three things seem clear. First, the court did not, on this day, opt for a ruling that would have required all states to recognize same-sex marriage, as some same-sex marriage advocates predicted and as the legal team opposing DOMA desired. Second, these decisions do not lend cultural strength to the pro-marriage movement. It is possible that the door is now open, through various legal challenges, to the kind of sweeping policy decision that will enshrine same-sex marriage at the federal level. It is not wrong to expect just this kind of initiative in coming days. Third, 37 states presently recognize marriage as marriage. This may shift in the near future, but for now there will be an ongoing debate about marriage across America. The argument for same-sex marriage’s inevitability must now be put to the test at the state level, where results in either direction are not assured.

The decisions of the Supreme Court on this momentous day are not encouraging in light of the clear teaching of Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 19:3-6, Romans 1:26-27, and Ephesians 5:22-33. With many thousands of evangelical churches across denominational and geographic lines, we at CBMW understand marriage to be a picture of the gospel, a display of cosmic complementarity and union between Christ and his bride, the church. Every marriage– the loving union of a man and a woman per Genesis 2–is, whether consciously or unconsciously, a living embodiment of this relationship.

To define marriage in any other way is to do great damage to this institution and to disobey Almighty God. Per Romans 13, no government possesses the authority to contravene or redefine God’s law. Doing so will ensure the spread of grave practical consequences. Biblical and traditional marriage is the only institution that promotes human flourishing by bringing a man and woman together for life, allowing them a true and pure bodily union, and providing for any child who comes from their union with the security and nurture that only a father and a mother can give. Society divests itself of marriage at great cost, with children bearing the worst effects of an unbiblical home.

As an organization deeply committed to the promotion of marriage, CBMW encourages all Christians and churches of the Lord Jesus Christ to do three things. First, we should pray for leaders and neighbors. There is no more powerful form of public engagement than prayer. Second, we should speak courageously in defense of marriage, connecting the issue to human flourishing. Third, if married, we should recognize that we are  living advocates of the wisdom and beauty of God’s plan and thus pour energy into our God-honoring unions as a witness.

Courage demands that the church speak up on this issue, whether at the personal, ecclesial, or political level. Pastors are not exempt from this great call, but must appropriately and humbly summon their people to stand for truth on this issue. Love demands that we seek the upholding of just, God-glorifying public laws, for there is no division between public law and private good. The laws of a society will invariably shape the conduct of individuals. To enshrine sin into law is fundamentally to act in a publicly unloving way. From a posture of courage, and out of love for our neighbor in fulfillment of the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:27), CBMW will continue to champion biblical and traditional marriage. We encourage every Christian and church to do the same.

Every church is an outpost of the kingdom and a gospel-created well of beauty, truth, and goodness. The involvement of congregations on the matter of marriage, and similarly great issues like abortion and religious liberty, will vary, but no church is excused from prophetic witness. As the church preaches the gospel, gives voice to biblical ethics, and welcomes all who abandon slavery to sin for the grace of Jesus Christ , it offers the world what it desperately wants: true liberation.

It is right for Christians to view today’s events with a sense of sadness and sobriety. If the hour seems dark, however, we are reminded of the infinite hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. We are not scared or on our heels, for we know that he will strengthen and preserve his people in this hour of need, even as he has countless times before.


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