Earlier this week, we looked at the controversy in North Carolina where the very liberal United Church of Christ has filed suit against the state of North Carolina, alleging that that state’s amendment identifies marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman violates religious liberty by preventing clergy from performing same-sex ceremonies and weddings.
Now as we have considered over the last several days, there could well be religious liberty complications in such a law, but in the case of the amendment in North Carolina, there is no such concern, and the statutory law there in North Carolina should not operate in such a way that it would violate religious conscience and it never has. In other words, that law in North Carolina has never been employed or used in any way but to regulate how legal marriages are performed by ministers in North Carolina. Analyses by Ryan T. Anderson at the Heritage Foundation and by Mollie Hemingway, writing at The Federalist, have made this point very clear.
R. Albert Mohler
But we also see in this situation that there are religious liberty complications on the horizon every time the intersection of marriage and law comes about because as the church operates on its understanding of marriage and as Christians committed to the Bible operate on an exclusively biblical understanding of marriage, we see a conflict on the horizon. And even a law like that on the books there North Carolina could, if in the wrong hands, in the wrong way, be used against evangelical ministers.
The principle is simply this: what the law enjoins, the law can also require. And that’s why we’re going to have to look at these things very, very carefully. What happens, for instance, when a state says to a minister, if you’re saying, “By the authority granted to me by this state, I declare you man and wife,” if that minister as an agent of the state says, “I will refuse to say you’re husband and husband or wife and wife,” how long is it before the state shows up, as it has in the offices of county clerks, and says, “As an agent of the state, you’re going to have to do what the state says and you’re going to have to be nondiscriminatory when it comes to marriage.”
That hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. And that’s why those who care for religious liberty, who want to defend marriage as a pre-political institution that has and must always mean the union of a man and woman, are going to have to watch these things very, very carefully. The debate in North Carolina is just one indication of the kind of conversation we’re going to be having state-by-state in years to come.
This, too, is the chaos spawned by moral revolution.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Biblical Recorder received the following statement from the office of R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a transcript of his comments in the Friday, May 2 edition of "The Briefing.")