How Churches Can Avoid the Nightmare of Lawsuits over Wedding Ceremonies

WEDDING

This is simple and perhaps even simplistic, I admit, but, I guarantee you it is at least one first step to avoid legal problems, that is, if you object to performing gay marriages.

(Disclaimer: I have voiced my opinion as to gay marriage plenty of times in different ways with the same main thrust, so, this is not an opinion on gay marriage but an advice to Churches that want to avoid the nightmare of lawsuits.)

Many Protestant churches reject the idea of marriages as a sacrament. Too bad that they perform and require that marriages be performed by their ministers as if it were a sacrament. However, many of these Churches use wedding ceremonies as a revenue generator for the Church and even rent their facilities for other ministers to perform marriages of people outside of the host Church membership. Well, that was fine and dandy up until now, but, unless Churches find a way not to “have it both ways” or, a quasi sacrament, whereas saying is not one, which they charge everyone to offer, and even offer it to people whose spiritual life they do not oversee, Churches will be open for all kinds of lawsuits because now we have a different, uncommon before, group of people who feel that, in spite of the fact that they never cared for that church facility in their neighborhood, and even when it is not in their neighborhood, they want to challenge that Church by wanting to have their gay marriage in that specific facility. In my not expert opinion, as it is plain to see, and as I consult friends of mine who are attorneys, it will be hard for that Church ministers to deny their facilities to perform a gay marriage on the basis of religion, since they only have an “expectancy” that the people whose weddings are performed in there are indeed religious people. My discussion here is not whether it is right to sue a Church for that or not, my discussion is that it will be hard for a Church to prove that they are not discriminating!

What then can be done?

Number one, from start, Churches should get out of the business of performing marriages. By that I mean, they should not charge for that which they believe to be a function of the Church. Otherwise they have to deny that such ceremonies are relevant and the function of the Church. They can’t have it both ways. They cannot charge; perhaps a nominal fee is fine for “maintenance” purposes, such as removal of flowers, or things of this nature, or cleaning the “social hall”, if the reception is also carried in its facilities, but charging a fee for the marriage itself, should be a “no, no”.

Then, not only should Churches not use weddings for a revenue generator by charging wedding fees, but also they should perform, or bless marriages of members of their congregations only, or the people whom the Ministers of that Church oversee spiritually. That means that they would not rent their facilities for marriages of people outside those who are under spiritual supervision of the ministers of that Church, whom they know, counsel, pray with, and to whom they offer communion regularly. I know that this will hurt churches financially, but it will hurt even more to have a lawyer in their payroll or to pay expensive legal fees to dispute lawsuits. All that is happening may be a Sovereign act of God in turning Churches more like the Body of Christ, and turn to their main purpose here on earth than to simply “server” the community as a venue for community indiscriminant celebrations.

In fact, Churches who want to avoid lawsuits, as long as it is legal to present issues (which is about to be legally debated in America) to your members, you should have a formal teaching plan where you teach your members about sin, sexuality, marriage, along with all your doctrinal foundations such as justification, the Trinity, etc. That alone will prevent anyone who disagrees with you from even the desire to be in your zip code, let alone get married in your Church!

Lastly, Churches should write all the above in their Constitution and By-Laws and ensure, assure and reassure that such is being followed to the letter!

How can this protect a Church?

Some may ask how these measures will help a Church avoid lawsuits; let me ask them that if you want to fly shirtless in an airplane there will always be a hard nose flight attendant, or steward, whatever they call it nowadays, to tell you that “it is not the company policy that people fly shirtless”. Churches need to know what their policy is. Whether they choose to perform gay marriage or not, they have to enact a policy that is understood by the community so as not to invite anyone even to consider attempting to violate such policy. That, added to the Constitutional provisions will aid a Church to be protected against most of the lawsuits and local ordinances that ultimately violate the Constitution right to assemble, which may be interpreted with “right to associate with likeminded folks”, freedom of speech, or religion and freedom to worship as one desires.

The advantages of a well established policy in their Statutes and By-Laws will be that Churches will get out of the “wedding business”, will be able to bless only the marriages of whom they oversee whereas being kindly and legally able to sustain a claim that any rejection of weddings of the general public within their walls is not discrimination.

The time has come, and again, I think by God’s Sovereign Act of disciplining the Body of Christ, that His Churches function more as the “assembly of those who worship God” and are under the supervision of a duly established Pastor or Bishop (the overseer) and not a community pleasing organization in the sense that, instead of “Christianizing the community, they are allowing the community to worldanize the church.”

Whatever has befallen to some Churches and Ministers in facing lawsuits from gay activists because of denial of facilities and ministerial blessing of a gay wedding (if such lawsuits are still in vogue…) is often the Churche’s fault for not safeguarding the mission that God commanded them to fulfill. Now a couple, from that church or not, can walk up to a minister, “rent” the church facilities for the wedding, either pay the minister of that Church for the wedding or bring their own minister and all is good. How is that not a fertile ground for all kinds of legal problems, including discrimination, if these same Churches deny the same facility and ministerial blessing to anyone? How is that not transforming a religious act, or a quasi sacrament for some, and a real sacrament for others, into a business? Want to keep your wedding revenues coming? If they do, save them because you will have to spend it all in lawyers and lawsuits and it will be your fault; you will lose! Sadly, the only way to avoid discrimination lawsuits is to discriminate by performing ONLY marriages of people within your Ministerial Oversight, or, the members of your congregation who agree to your definition of sin, marriage, sexuality, etc.

Christianity is a faith with no temple made by man’s hands; however this cannot be an excuse to consider a place of worship a “party hall” for the community and not even the “favorite wedding chapel” of the community. Without transforming church buildings in shrines, Churches must understand the difference between an exclusive worship place and the “community center”. This is old fashion but efficacious in swatting away lawsuit bugs. That can be achieved starting by ending the urge to generate revenues by providing a venue for non-member weddings.

A mental disease? #transgender

Dr. Paul R. McHugh

Dr. Paul R. McHugh

“…transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.”

(Former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry)

Well, this guy is a doctor on the subject… So, don’t kill the messenger!

read more here

What Is Expected And Reasonable?

Reason has more than one side. That which is reasonable and fair has to have other considerations than simply an “imposition” which is what “reasonable” is when it is one sided. A very poor constructed sentence, but it depicts exactly the mistake many are making today when they claim that “modern changes in societal rules and even laws” cannot be challenged by those who have benefited for centuries by the old ways even if it has been proven for centuries that the old ways have worked well and may not require changes.

Christians, and all kinds of conservatives, or other derogatory names one wants to use for this group not only have the right, but the duty to, and in fact, are doing society a favor, when they contest, protest and manifest against the rapid changes in society today because some of these changes have no track record of benefiting humanity. It seems that scholars and scientists will always appeal to history, evidence and a track record of fact to ascertain that whatever issue they are attempting to establish is feasible and that its implementation will be of a benefit to all. Except when it comes to issues where religion and/or tradition is involved. Then, who needs evidence, who needs history, who needs facts? It is almost as if they have made up their minds: “If it is religiously or traditionally prescribed, then it is wrong; let us change it”, even when in fact, there is history, a time span as old as history itself, that the old ways have worked so far.

No, this is not to say that we should not change and modernize society and make if fairer and comfortable to all! This is simply to say that it is fair for Christians and all kinds of conservatives to struggle with the idea of change for “change’s sake” in that which they perceive to be a threat to what they have known as the best for humanity in general. Not always stating that something is wrong is purely a religious exercise. Although I acknowledge that more frequent than not it is a religious exercise, some are sincerely concerned whether the recent changes in society, such as marriages, rules about “respecting other cultures to the point of surrendering to them” may not be solely basing their concerns on religion. People can protest for other reasons and it is fair and good that they do so when changes are in the process of proving itself as useful to society as it is for a group within that society, who, because of factors beyond our understanding, decided to impose their view of society upon all others.

I am a firm believer that one cannot legislate religious beliefs, no matter how well intended they are. Equally, I am a firm believe that one, or a group, cannot legislate their religious unbelief on others. In both counts protest is fair and acceptable. A great scholar is all over social media spreading the notion that Christians are attempting to legislate their beliefs upon society. Well, the facts belie such a scholar, who is not and cannot be a scholar in predicting the future consequences of changing society on society itself! Non-Christians are indeed imposing their beliefs, rather, their unbelief upon Christians with the aggravating circumstance that they practice such imposition against the will of the people of the community they choose to impose their unbelief. I am fully aware that we have to check if an acceptable degree of legal fairness is being afforded to all citizens and not only those who would prefer that tradition would remain as it has been for ages. However it is not by winning in courts that the imposition occurs; the imposition occurs when business, people who exercise their individual conscience, religious or not, have to comply with the peripherals of their victory and now have to act totally contrary to what they have held as truth functioning and comfortable to their own life styles all these years. So, by imposing, forcing, people to comply with their wins, those who win by the act of a single often non-elected office of the court, with his own biases and prejudices, reverse the issue of unfairness and begin themselves to act unfairly. Again, the facts have proven that Christians and other conservatives are adapting to the world that now surround them, but they should not have to live as a blind man by the road side taking whatever others dish out to them; they can rightfully establish limits. Certain services and profession when exercised to a person or group imply endorsement of that group or person. If you do not understand that you have never been in business, and your position is fully understandable. The refusal, however, of a businessman to provide services that automatically imply his endorsement and participation in that which he does not agree should be expected and understood and such understanding would be reasonable!

By now most presume to know that about which I am talking. No, for your surprise it is not only the issue of gays; it is also the celebration of America, American values, supposedly Christian symbols (that are not really Christian), and those that are indeed genuine Christian symbols, the liberation of drugs, and now some ridiculous rulings, which are too ridiculous to mention. People of faith and out of faith who want to preserve a certain heritage without waiving, who love to wear shirts that extol the quality of their military relatives, American Flags, etc. who feel threatened by lawsuits and other artifices of the “indignation industry”, and yes, those who do not agree with abortions and the gay issue, should not now, all of a sudden, be forced to comply or else. What is reasonable? If we want a fair society, then lets offer fairness rather than demanding it and in the process progress in an environment without hostility and division, and such environment is not a fertile ground for corrupt politicians, but not having corrupt politicians coming out of every sewerage is a fringe benefit of this new world of fairness!   That is expected and reasonable!

Don’t ask me! Ask this lesbian and academic!

I dind’t say it! Don’t kill the messenger!

camille paglia“Homosexuality is not ‘normal.’ On the contrary, it is a challenge to the norm; therein rests its eternally revolutionary character Queer theorists – that wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders – have tried to take the post structuralist tack of claiming that there is no norm, since everything is relative and contingent. This is the kind of silly bind that word-obsessed people get into when they are deaf, dumb, and blind to the outside world. Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina; no fancy linguistic game-playing can change that biologic fact.”

Read more here - this is only one web site that quotes her on that. If you are interested in the issue through her perspective you will have to check for yourself!

My point in publishing this here is, to my self-acknowledged ignorance of her work, and knowing that many of you are aware of her writings on the issue, and perhaps other articles are published about her in this and many other blogs, I didn’t know that within the “gay” campsite there was someone as “not so fond” of gay activist as I am. Note: I object to gay activism! All the accusations that I receive for saying this are a violation of the 9th Commandment and pure slander! I have stopped defending myself for my view both to the fundamentalist as well as to the activists, including some academics, since I get it from both sides. I just submit this for perhaps you will find that what activists proclaim (again, including some academics) about gays is still open for discussion; at least is still in the realm of theories, which is not and should never be a reason for Christians simply to bash a gay person whereas still debating the issue as they see through the perspective of their faith.

Refrain form primarily drawing and posting conclusions about my views in your comments. I pride in having a good record in dealing with persons and the issue. Deal with her view here as quoted in this doctor’s Web Site, which I used because I founded to be the less clouded and cluttered one. Comment at length but don’t kill the messenger just yet…

Local Catholic Leader and Women in the RCC

Inside of the Roman Catholic Church in Újkér

Inside of the Roman Catholic Church in Újkér (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In calling only men as his apostles, Christ acted freely, emphasizing the dignity and the vocation of women, unafraid to challenge the prevailing customs and laws of the day.

via Msgr. P. Edward Sadie: Women and the Catholic Church  – Op-Ed Commentaries – The Charleston Gazette – West Virginia News and Sports -.

This is the standard line, of course, but overall the article is a pretty good one about the role of women in the Roman Catholic Church.

I have maintained for a while now that while I disagree with this position, it is logical and follows a pattern. It is not just about ‘women are second class.’

Anyway, thought some of you could use a read of it.

Or three.

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Women Warriors: Deborah and Daenyerus

Sand and palms, breeze rolls in off the sea, sun beats down and she hears the cries of her children. She settles land disputes, answers the widow’s claim and listen’s for God on the wind; Israel, Yahweh’s ever unfaithful bride and Deborah her prophet and mother. Her story a bit obscure, tucked inside the history of the shophatim eclipsed by the conquest of Joshua, the sun standing still, the bloodshed and battlecries of men; Deborah’s is a story of faithfulness, a witness to shema, to hear and obey God. We tug at the threads of the Tanak to find her and the song of her victory to know her more, this woman and warrior.

Considered some of the oldest material in the Hebrew Canon, this ancient poetry, the Song of Deborah found in Judges chapter 5, is shaped by the actions of female characters around whom the story is fashioned. Deborah, the mother of Israel who leads the armies to battle at Meggido, Jael who is blessed among women and Sisera’s mother who waits in vain for the return of her son.

For those of us currently obsessed with the Game of Thrones series–and who isn’t–perhaps Deborah is an ancient Daenyerus Stormborn type, if only with more clothing and much darker hair and skin. Both are women who step into their destiny, who rule and lead and rescue those placed in their care, those who call them Mother or Mhysa. While Deborah’s beast is a mule not a dragon such as is Daenyerus, both are women driven by providence to rise.

It seems important to tell Deborah’s story maybe now more than ever after the dust has settled and many have forgotten her song. It seems important to remind ourselves of her strength and courage even now while the battle rages on about women and if they can be used by God and if the ways in which they might be used are limited because of their own Divine image bearing gender.

There are books to tell us how we should live, Christian Women’s Bible Studies fashioned around idols of perfection held up as our standard, we women who love God. But before all that, before stories were interpreted and illustrated according to the context and cultures of the modern era, there was a woman who ruled the people of God.

Deborah of course, would not have had any sort of military training, would never have run drills or have learned how to lead armies of men into the fray. It is true, God’s call met her, led her outside of the norm, counter to a proscribed female role but that’s what God’s call will do, take you outside of yourself, carry you into lands you do not know, ask you to depend on God rather than what you know or where you’ve been or how much you can do.

The Hebrew word shema is to hear and obey. Different than the English equivalent, there is no need for a second word, to hear God was to obey God. How would our lives change if upon hearing God’s call we did that crazy, unreasonable, unbelievable, illogical thing, answered the tug in our spirit that cries, “Go, Be, Do.” For Deborah it meant leaving the palm trees, exchanging her perch for a saddle and finally 40 years of peace for Israel.

Today I am praying for all my sisters, women and warriors, for clarity of call and certainty of mission even as you trod uncharted territory and leap into waters unknown. May you find comfort in Deborah’s song and know that God has always called and the faithful have always answered, that gifts usurp gender, that fear and doubt are not from God. Today as you rock babies and close deals, prepare dinner, wash laundry and convene committees sing her song and find the will to rise.

kimberlymajeski.com

Is The Christian Concept of Gay Conversion Therapy Fundamentally Flawed?

Following my earlier post on an upcoming Christian seminar pushing the validity of ‘Reparative Therapy’ or ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ I received the following Tweet:


This set off a lightbulb within me and a chain of thoughts.

If Christians regard homosexuality as a spiritual issue – and the practice as a sin – then why turn to ‘gay conversion’ psychological therapy.

Is it that some Christians believe homosexuality to be a mental disorder that can be treated? This explanation is the only reason I can think of to advocate psychological therapy.

If not a mental disorder, then continuing this line of reasoning, if psychological therapy is appropriate for this particular ‘spiritual problem’ then why not all spiritual issues?

Why is psychological therapy not advocated for all sinful temptations?

Could it not be equally argued that all sinful temptations are environmentally produced – as opposed to hard-wired – and in need of rectification through psychological therapy, as is posited for sexual orientation.

If sexual orientation is a mental disorder to be ‘cured’ through therapy, can we confidently even consider the practice of homosexuality as sin any longer?

Are sexual orientation temptations in some way qualitatively different to any other temptations of the flesh?

Of course, the irony is that those Christians pushing for Conversion Therapy are usually to be found most ardently in the anti-psychology camp.

These thoughts have only just occurred to me and so I’m thinking on the fly.

Feel free to chip in.

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Women should be seen and not heard… at Christian Colleges

Biola University professors Brad Christerson, M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall, and Shelly Cunningham, authors of “Women Faculty at an Evangelical University: The Paradox of Religiously Driven Gender Inequalities and High Job Satisfaction” attribute this paradox to “benevolent sexism” and the high value evangelicals place on personal relationships. Karen Swallow Prior, chair of the department of English and Modern Languages at Liberty University and a regular contributor to Her.meneutics, interviewed the scholars about their findings.

via The ‘Benevolent Sexism’ at Christian Colleges | Christianity Today.

Gotta tuck this away for a bit… but, a quick read reveals what we are identifying with women in general… equality is not all that equal.