Helping all people become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ!
Statement Regarding the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Decision
Today is a sad day for America.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two
people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the
same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.
As a Christian minister and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, I
am deeply concerned with the Court's redefinition of marriage and the negative
effects that it may have on religious freedom.
Scripture, Marriage, and Religious Freedom
Scripture defines marriage solely in terms of the union of a man and a woman
(e.g., Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:5–9; cf. Genesis 1:27–28, 2:20–24; Ephesians
5:21–32). Not only that, Scripture prohibits same-sex intercourse (Romans
1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; cf. Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). When
it comes to same-sex marriage, Scripture prohibits what the Supreme Court
As Christians, Assemblies of God adherents affirm that the Bible determines
what we believe and how we behave. Our Statement of Fundamental Truths puts it
this way: "The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and
practice." And: "The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are
verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible,
authoritative rule of faith and conduct" (emphasis added).
Our Scripture-based definition of marriage and understanding of sexual morality
shapes what our Constitution and Bylaws require as behavioral standards for
credentialed ministers, finds reflection in the Assemblies of God position
paper on homosexuality, and provides the rationale for the conduct codes of our
denominational offices, affiliate organizations, and colleges and
I am grateful that in its decision the Supreme Court acknowledged that our
opposition to same-sex marriage and behavior arises from "good faith"
rather than animus. I am deeply concerned, however, about how the Court will
rule when government laws and regulations that reflect its redefinition of
marriage conflict with our biblical behavioral standards.
Will public accommodation laws be interpreted to require Assemblies of God
congregations to rent their sanctuaries to same-sex weddings if they also rent
their sanctuaries to weddings involving a man and a woman?
Will Assemblies of God ministers be required to solemnize same-sex marriages?
Will Assemblies of God colleges and universities be required to enroll same-sex
married students, even though that constitutes a violation of their student
Will our schools be able to access federal student loans and grants if our
student conduct codes prohibit same-sex behavior?
Will Assemblies of God organizations that provide psychological counseling,
adoption services, or other services that require professional licenses be
stripped of their licenses because of their faith-based opposition to same-sex
marriage and behavior?
Will Assemblies of God organizations lose their tax-exempt status because of
their opposition to same-sex marriage because of the Bob Jones precedent?
The answer to these questions based on the First Amendment should be a
straightforward, "No!" But in oral arguments about Obergefell before
the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli himself admitted, when asked
a question such as these:
I don't think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but
it's certainly going to be an issue. I—I don't deny that. I don't deny that...
It is–it is going to be an issue.
And that is my deepest concern. Although it should not be, religious freedom
itself is "going to be an issue." In this way, the Supreme Court's
ruling regarding so-called "marriage equality" will be used as a
wedge to narrow the scope and weaken the protections afforded by the free exercise
of religion guaranteed to Americans by the First Amendment. No religious
person—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.—can view that possibility as good news.
No freedom-loving American should.
A Judicial Usurpation of Politics
As an American, I believe that this decision represents a judicial usurpation
of politics. Proponents of same-sex marriage like to draw analogies between
their movement and the Abolitionist and Civil Rights Movements. The analogy is
false, but it is nonetheless instructive in this particular case.
Whereas abolition and civil rights were enacted democratically by amending the
U.S. Constitution in the 1860s and passing national civil rights legislation in
the 1960s, same-sex marriage has been democratically enacted in only 11 States
and the District of Columbia. It has been imposed on 39 States and American
territories by State and Federal Courts that overturned democratically enacted
definitions of marriage as a man-woman union.
I cannot help but think that this is an unhelpful way to resolve the political,
social, and moral conflicts that divide the American people.
Closing Words of Advice
I close with three words of pastoral advice:
First, to Assemblies of God ministers: Politics reflects culture, and culture
reflects religion. If you are concerned with the political drift of American
culture, preach the gospel! As it sends out roots in the lives of believers,
the seed of the gospel will change hearts and minds.
Second, to Assemblies of God adherents: You are privileged citizens of a
blessed nation. Use your citizenship well! Seek the common good. Advocate for
the last, the lost, and the least. Speak the truth in love. And vote for
candidates and issues that reflect a biblical perspective on issues. The
difference in so many conflicts in American politics and culture turns on who
turns out to vote.
Third, to all Christians: If you are troubled with the Supreme Court's
decision, keep perspective! In this and every other matter, always remember the
words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world
Let us all pray for a great spiritual awakening in our country!
May God bless you richly today and every day!
George O. Wood
Assemblies of God (USA)