November 11 2014 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

    On Monday, Nov. 10 at the North Carolina Baptist State Convention (BSC) annual meeting, Lynn Buzzard led a discussion related to potential challenges facing churches in light of the recent actions of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding same-sex marriage.
     
    Buzzard, a retired professor from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University, said that like Ezekiel we may see our culture as a valley of dry, dead bones.
     
    "Yet God says to Ezekiel, 'Now, speak to the Spirit and ask Him to give life to the bones.' God gives life to bones," he emphasized.
     
    Buzzard walked through five different levels of issues same-sex marriage creates.
     
    Churches need to begin by "clarifying church policy about solemnizing gay marriage," said Buzzard about the first level. This requires how churches can clarify, protect and prevent gay marriage from entering their local churches.
     
    Policies should also include statements about what a Christian understanding of marriage is and why same-sex marriage is inconsistent with God’s view of gender and the family.
     
    At level two, he said, church policies and practices should adopt official stances toward gay and lesbian individuals both inside and outside the church. “Are they welcome to come [to worship] or not welcome to come? Are they welcome to come if they aren’t allowed to promote their agenda? But welcome otherwise? What’s the policy going to be about people in the church who are well known, but gay? How’s the church going to minister to someone who comes to the church and says, ‘Yes, I have homosexual impulses and those kinds of orientations.’ How do we respond?” asked Buzzard.
     
    The Gospel of John talks about truth and grace, said Buzzard. “Remember, it’s not grace without truth or truth without grace. It’s both.”
     
    At the third level, Buzzard said churches need to recognize the impact of gay marriage and radical agendas on freedoms of religion and conscience. These are more radical, agenda-driven movements by same-sex marriage proponents.
     
    Buzzard emphasized that level four is by far the most important. This is the church's biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
     
    "A lot of marriages in churches are in trouble because we don't teach about it. ... Before we start listing all the bad marriage policies of someone else, we should start listing them in our own communities."
     
    The culture and world is full of materialism, relativism and hedonism, said Buzzard. "If you think fifteen minutes of Sunday school can undo the hours of movies, music and professors, then you're wrong.” This is why in level five that churches need to recognize the nature, scope and impact of radical shifts in culture.
     
    Buzzard provided a few helpful points for churches and church leaders:

    • Policies need to be shaped by doctrine.
    • Don't blindly copy but think through your policies.
    • Don't adopt policies you won't follow.
    • The rule itself is not the highest level of God's order. God is.
    • Frame your policies in positive terms.

    Directors of missions across North Carolina have received resources developed by BSC staff in consultation with Buzzard, titled, “Samples and Templates for the Development of Position Statements on Marriage, Wedding Policies and Facility Use Policies.” This resource was provided to use as they assist church leaders with legal issues.
     
    “The gospel cannot and should not be reduced to a policy. There will be great opportunities to share the life transforming truths of Jesus, while standing firmly upon the teachings of scripture about marriage, as we engage our communities and culture,” said Brian Davis, BSC associate executive director-treasurer.
     
    Buzzard agreed.
     
    He said, "We cannot attract people to our understanding of marriage simply by pointing out bad marriages. This is true of anything. If someone is engaged in destructive behavior, it doesn’t do much to simply pass resolutions against their destructive behavior. If something is ugly, people aren’t going to see that it’s ugly until they see something beautiful."
     
    Buzzard asked, "How do we disciple and equip ourselves and believers to thrive in a cultural captivity?”
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Churches can download the resource, “Samples and Templates for the Development of Position Statements on Marriage, Wedding Policies and Facility Use Policies” at http://blog.ncbaptist.org/clpa/.)

    11/11/2014 4:11:59 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: annual meeting, BSC, same-sex marriage




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