FBCTroy, Pastor Mike Harding
Pastor Mike Harding of First Baptist Church of Troy, Michigan, offers a recently approved statement on marriage which was adopted by his church. We offer it here in light of current controversies as a resource for other churches who may wish to consider adopting a similar position statement.
Marriage is an exclusive God-ordained institution between one man (husband) and one woman (wife) in a mutually consented “one-flesh” relationship, consisting of mutually supportive companionship and physical union (Gen 1:27; 2:24; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Cor 7:1-6; Rom 1:26-27). As such marriage is a life-long, monogamous, heterosexual, covenant relationship between the man and the woman, publicly entered into before God as witness (Prov 2:17; Mal 2:16; Matt 19:4-6) and normally recognized by God’s institution of human government (Deut 22:13-17; Gen 29:25-26; Rom 13:1; Matt 22:21). The marriage covenant is authoritatively based on divine law and typically sanctioned by civil law. Thus, marriage is not a matter of mere social convention, but rather is a sacred bond between one man and one woman, defined by God alone in the Sacred Scriptures.
Based on the biblical definition of marriage and its necessary implications, the following convictions represent the clear teaching of Scripture and, therefore, are the sincerely held religious beliefs of the First Baptist Church of Troy and all its ministries.
- Marriage is the legal joining of one man (born anatomically male) and one woman (born anatomically female) in an exclusive union (Scripture cited above).
- Any sexual activity outside of the biblical definition of marriage is clearly prohibited by Scripture, including fornication (“any sexual activity outside of marriage” 1 Cor 7:2; 1 Thess 4:3), adultery (“with someone other than one’s own spouse” Ex 20:14; Matt 5:28; Luke 16:18), homosexuality (“any same-sex sexual activity” Gen 19:5-7; Lev 18:22; Rom 1:27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; Jude 7), incest (“sexual activity with family members or relatives” Lev 20:11-21; 1 Cor 5:1), obscene behavior (Eph 5:3-4), pornography (Matt 5:28; Mark 7:21-22; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Thess 4:5; Rev 18:9), prostitution (Prov 5:1-23; 7:4-27; 1 Cor 6:18), transvestitism (Deut 22:5; 1 Cor 11:1-16), or criminal sexual behavior (rape, molestation, pedophilia, bestiality, polygamy, necrophilia, pederasty, prostitution, etc. Rom 13:1-6; Lev 18-22; Gen 1-2; Deut 24:1-4).
- Since all human beings are God’s creation offspring (not children necessarily), any attempt to change or refusal to conform to one’s biological sex is clearly prohibited by Scripture (Deut 22:5; 1 Cor 11:1-16).
Due to the image of God in all people, it is the clear will of God for all human beings to abstain from immorality. This is especially true for professing believers in Christ (1 Thess 4:1-8). His image-bearers must abstain from immorality and refrain from approving immoral behavior (Rom 1:21-32). Those who practice sexual sin and/or give approval of such will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Eph 5:3-5; Rom 1:21-32; cf. Gal 5 and 1 Cor 6).
Thankfully, God in His grace offers His gospel to all sinners. All human beings are sinners; there is none righteous (Romans 3:23). God promises to spiritually cleanse, sanctify, and justify any sinner who comes to Him with repentant faith in the Person and Cross-work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Though sexual sin carries severe consequences in this life and eternal judgment in the life to come, all sin, including sexual sin, can be forgiven via the grace of God available to all people on account of Christ’s infinite atonement for sin (1 Cor 6:9-11; Acts 17:30-31; 1 John 1:9; Romans 6:1-7).
In light of the above, all marriage ceremonies under the auspices of the First Baptist Church of Troy (including any of its pastors/licensed ministers) must conform to these marriage guidelines and sexual ethics policy. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Both bride and groom must have a clear testimony of salvation in Christ and give biblical evidence of regeneration in their lives.
- Either the bride or the groom must be an active member of the First Baptist Church of Troy and in good standing with the church.
- Neither the bride nor the groom shall have been previously divorced, with the possible exception of being an innocent party divorced on the basis of clear biblical grounds (i.e., unrepentant adultery or desertion [Matt 19; 1 Cor 7]).
We believe that in order to preserve the theological and functional integrity of our church, including all its related ministries, as a local representative of the Body of Christ and to provide a biblical role model to our church members and local community, it is imperative that all individuals employed by our church, Christian School, music academy, as well as all church members, parents (legal guardians), students, and volunteers abide by and agree to this Policy Statement on Marriage and Sexuality.
Because of our Scripturally-based beliefs, we reserve the right to refuse to provide any marriage related services in situations that do not adhere to this stated biblical view of marriage. These services include but are not limited to: conducting premarital and marriage counseling, officiating wedding ceremonies, or using our facility/property for showers, weddings, marriages, receptions, and other related events.
We also believe that every person must be afforded grace, compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity regardless of our theological disagreements. Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of the church (Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Luke 10:25-37; Rom. 12:18; 1 Pet. 2:17).
Mike Harding is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Troy, Troy, Michigan.