FRESNO, Calif. (ABP) — The California Southern Baptist Convention is offering advice that churches revise their bylaws to anticipate possible changes in the legal definition of marriage.
An article on the convention website advises that “a simple bylaw amendment can avoid confusion and could protect the church from future legal battles should the definition of marriage change under California law.”
A sample bylaw recognizes marriage as the “uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.”
“Accordingly, this church, its pastors, staff and members will not participate in same-sex unions or same-sex marriages, nor shall its property or resources be used for such purposes,” the sample language reads.
According to the website, a church is incorporated in California when its articles of incorporation are filed with the secretary of state. Those articles of incorporation contain basic information about the church such as its name and purpose, but it is the church’s bylaws that contain the rules for how the church will operate.
Bylaws should have a section dealing with doctrinal matters, the statement says, including language about what the church believes about marriage.
“As the battle for biblical truth about marriage rages, every local congregation should take some simple steps to clarify its position on the marriage issue,” the statement says.
In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. In August, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in a lawsuit that the proposition violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling is under appeal.
is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.