Copyright 2013, 2015, WLF. All rights reserved.
MODEL CHURCH POLICY ON MARRIAGE
Prepared for the Missouri Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist churches around the country are considering ways to re-affirm God’s unchanging Word regarding Christian marriage, while some politicians are embracing an “evolving” legal redefinition. Religious liberty advocates are encouraging churches to practice “preventive law” by clearly defining the biblical basis for their marriage policies and by placing such policies in their important governing documents. Such a policy may become important evidence of the deeply held religious beliefs of the church concerning marriage and sexuality, should such issues arise in a legal context in the future. Legal counsel for the Missouri Baptist Convention has drafted the following model policy for informational and educational purposes. 
The policy may be adopted at a church business meeting as an amendment to the Articles of Incorporation, or the church constitution, or bylaws, and/or in a stand-alone wedding policy. 
STATEMENT OF FAITH
The sole authority for faith and practice in this local church is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience. This local church adopts and affirms as its Statement of Faith the Baptist Faith and Message, current edition, of the Southern Baptist Convention. We commit ourselves to make decisions about membership, personnel and other matters consistent with the biblical passages and principles expressed in this statement.
HUMAN SEXUALITY AND GENDER
This local church affirms God’s original design to create two distinct and complementary sexes, male and female, to glorify Him. (Gen. 1:27; Isa. 43:7; Matt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6) Marriage is the first divine institution, essentially rooted in the created order, uniting one man and one woman in an exclusive covenant commitment for their joint lifetime, for their good and for the good of any children who may be conceived and born into this union. (Gen. 1:28, 2:19-24; Malachi 2:13-16; Mark 10:11-12) The assignment of biological sex at birth is a gift of God and part of God’s glory in creation. The Fall of Man into sin and God’s subsequent curse have introduced brokenness and futility into God’s good creation (Gen. 3:1-24; Rom. 8:20). We extend love and compassion to those whose experience of this brokenness includes a perceived conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity (Rom. 8:22-23). We affirm God’s good design that gender identity should be determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception—a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God’s design. (Eph. 4:17-18) We affirm distinctions in masculine and feminine roles as ordained by God as part of the created order, and that those distinctions should find an echo in every human heart. (Gen. 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor. 11:7-9; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Tim. 2:12-14) We believe that efforts to live contrary to birth sex, whether by behavior, attire, cosmetics, or even medical or surgical therapy, are resisting or rebelling against the gift of God and a central dimension of His will for that person, and therefore such behavior is sinful. We condemn efforts to alter one’s bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to bring it into line with one’s perceived gender identity. We love our transgender neighbors, seek their good always, welcome them into our congregations as they repent and believe in Christ, and spur them on to love and good deeds in the name of Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20; Gal. 5:14; Heb. 10:24). We continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any court, or legislature or policymaker to validate transgender identity as morally good, right or praiseworthy (Isa. 5:20). We commit ourselves to make decisions about membership, personnel and other church matters based on this biblical perspective of human sexuality.
MARRIAGE AND CIVIL UNIONS
This local church affirms the biblical truths that marriage is the first divine institution, essentially rooted in the created order, uniting one man and one woman in an exclusive covenant commitment for their joint lifetime, for their good and for the welfare of any children who may be conceived and born into this union. Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the lived experience that children need both a mother and a father. Re-defining marriage to fit popular norms rejects these truths. By encouraging the norms of true marriage—man-woman monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and promotes human flourishing, including the well-being of children.
Christian marriage is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His Church, as illustrated by the wedding of a Christian man and woman in this exclusive and permanent covenant relationship. As such, this local Church believes that Christian wedding ceremonies on Church property are spiritual observances of worship of God who created this divine institution. As worship services, weddings on Church property shall be officiated by one or more ordained ministers of the gospel approved by the pastor.
The Church may decline to make its facilities or ministers available for any wedding if it is determined that one or both of the parties are not biblically qualified to marry. Such determinations may be made by the [pastor, Church council, or wedding committee, etc.], subject to the direction of the Church.
The Church may also decline to participate in or recognize in any manner any marriage, so-called marriage, civil union, commitment ceremony or other activity which may, directly or indirectly affirm, approve or communicate behavior or beliefs which are contrary to the Church’s beliefs about biblical morality. Such actions would violate the religious conscience of this Body and its members. We must obey God, who is Lord of our conscience.
No minister [or employee] of the Church shall officiate at any marriage or similar ceremony unless such event or ceremony is consistent with this policy. No minister [or employee] of the Church shall officiate at any civil union or commitment ceremony that is not approved by the Church as being consistent with this policy.
FACILITIES USE POLICY
__________ BAPTIST CHURCH
All real property facilities of ____________ BAPTIST CHURCH (collectively, the "Church Facilities"), including without limitation its sanctuary auditorium, fellowship hall, gymnasium, educational facilities, conference rooms and other meeting rooms or facilities used for the mission of the Church, wherever located,
(1) when used by the Church, its ministers, officers, staff or employees or its congregation members or Church attendees, and
(2) if used by other persons or groups with the permission of the Church or the ministerial or administrative staff of the Church,
shall be used solely for purposes consistent or compatible with the mission, faith and doctrine of the Church, as defined in its Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and Bylaws, or in Statements of Faith adopted by the local Church from time to time, it being acknowledged and understood that the Church Facilities are intended not to be facilities of “public accommodation” as defined by law, but are facilities owned by the Church, a Missouri Non-Profit Corporation, dedicated solely for such permitted uses.
The Church’s facilities were provided through God’s benevolence and by the sacrificial generosity of Church members. The Church desires that its facilities be used for the fellowship of the Body of Christ and always to God’s glory. Although the facilities are not generally open to the public, we do on occasion make our facilities available to non-members, both individuals and groups, after approval by the Church consistent with this policy.
Facility use will not be permitted to persons or groups holding, advancing, or advocating beliefs, or advancing, advocating, or engaging in practices that conflict with the Church’s faith or moral teachings, which are summarized in, among other places, the Church’s [Articles,] Constitution, Bylaws and other policies or statements of faith adopted by the Church. Nor may facilities be used for activities that express viewpoints that contradict, or are deemed by the pastor to be inconsistent or incompatible with the Church’s faith or moral teachings. The Church designates the pastor as its final decision-maker on whether a person or group is allowed to use Church facilities for particular activities.
This restricted facility use policy is necessary for two important reasons. First, the Church may not in good conscience materially cooperate or participate in activities or beliefs that are contrary to its faith. Allowing its facilities to be used for purposes that contradict the Church’s beliefs would be viewed by some as material cooperation with that activity and complicity in that viewpoint, and would be a grave violation of the faith and religious practice of the Body and its individual members. See 2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:22.
Second, it is very important to the Church that it presents a consistent message to the community, which the Church staff and members conscientiously maintain as part of their witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To allow facilities to be used by groups or persons who express beliefs or engage in practices contrary to the Church’s faith would have a severe negative impact on the message that the Church strives to promote. It could also be a source of confusion and scandal to Church members and the community because they may reasonably perceive that by allowing use of our facilities, the Church is in agreement with the beliefs or practices of the persons or groups using Church facilities.
Therefore, in no event shall persons or groups who hold, advance, or advocate beliefs, or advance, advocate, or engage in practices that contradict the Church’s faith use any Church facility. Nor may facilities be used in any way that contradicts the Church’s faith. See Colossians 3:17.
The foregoing policy shall apply to any ceremony, whether or not recognized by law, involving persons of the same birth gender or transsexual persons, including a civil union, commitment ceremony, or so-called same-sex marriage.
This Policy was adopted by vote of the membership of _______________ BAPTIST CHURCH on this date: _____________, 2015.
For ______ BAPTIST CHURCH
 MBC cannot give legal advice to a local church or its members. This memo is not a substitute for individual legal counsel. Consult a qualified non-profit attorney for advice about the law and your church’s circumstances. Different procedures are required, depending upon whether the church is incorporated under Chapter 352 or Chapter 355 of Missouri Non-Profit Corporation law.
 For advice on other policies regarding membership, church discipline, employees, volunteers, and facilities use, a church may contact MBC’s general counsel, the Whitehead Law Firm, LLC, or another qualified non-profit attorney of the church’s choice.
Copyright 2013, WLF. All rights reserved.