Sunday, February 16, 2014

The 3 - February 16, 2014

This week here in my week-in-review feature, I want to take a look at a key event that was being promoted to churches in association with Valentine's Day in an effort to celebrate and strengthen marriages.   Also, there was news about same-sex marriage ceremonies being performed by members of a large Christian denomination.  And, there was more news regarding the attempt to redefine marriage as something other than one-man, one-woman.

3 - Art of Marriage events scheduled at churches across America

Since 2011, some 400,000 people have discovered The Art of Marriage, a video resource from the ministry of FamilyLife.  And, this weekend, churches were being encouraged to sponsor events surrounding The Art of Marriage.  The resource has six video sessions, addressing topics such as the purpose of marriage, the drift to isolation, roles, communication, romance and sex, and legacy.  In addition to Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife and his wife, Barbara, noted experts who are featured include Paul David Tripp, who spoke to hundreds recently in a conference in Montgomery, Voddie Baucham, Mary Kassian, Crawford Loritts, his son, Bryan Loritts, and more.   Find out more about how your church can be involved by going to

Valentine's Day also marked the end of National Marriage Week, which is actually an international event that is designed to highlight the benefits of  marriage. It was begun in the the U.K. by Richard and Maria Kane. It has been a collaborative project and has the backing of a number of Christian organizations, according to a report on the Christian Today website. A huge emphasis is given to local events, which is where churches really come into their own running and hosting these and offering support and advice where necessary.

The week also provides churches with opportunities to engage and celebrate with their communities, and to launch other marriage resources and events off the back of it.

The report says that last year one and a half million people attended a Marriage Week event worldwide. Last Saturday, the organizers launched what is called the Big was National Marriage Week's World Record attempt to get the most couples renewing their vows simultaneously.

You can learn more about the U.S. effort at the website

2 - United Methodist clergy violate denomination's ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies

Two United Methodist Church clergy of Washington state were recently suspended for a day for officiating same-sex marriage ceremonies, considered a violation of the denomination's rules, according to a report on The Christian Post website.

It was announced this week that the Rev. Cheryl A. Fear of Bellingham and Rev. Gordon Hutchins of Tacoma were suspended for 24 hours without pay for performing gay marriages in 2012.   The one-day suspensions come instead of a church trial, which would have led to the possibility of being given a heftier punishment by UMC officials.

United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline states that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and that, "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."

John Lomperis, the Institute on Religion & Democracy's United Methodist Action Director, told the Post that, "Such flaunting of our denomination's biblical standards is not new for this region, which has operated with a sort of ecclesial anarchy for quite a number of years."  He said, "Thanks to its liberal leadership, the Pacific-Northwest Conference has long been one of the fastest-dying UMC conference, losing a whopping 5.3 percent of its members just within the last reported year."

There's more news concerning gay marriage from the United Methodist Church.  A church trial for retired seminary dean Rev. Thomas Ogletree, set to begin March 10, has been indefinitely postponed.   Ogletree performed a same-sex weeding for his son in New York state.

Last December, Frank Schaefer of Pennsylvania was defrocked for officiating his son's gay marriage back in 2007.

And, in October, reported on a same-sex ceremony performed by retired Bishop Melvin Talbert in Birmingham, in a state where gay marriage is illegal, despite being requested not to do so by the presiding bishop of the conference.   The couple were legally wed in Washington, D.C. in September.

Despite the talk about the UMC being increasingly divided over the issue, Lomperis told CP that the biblically conservative viewpoint was winning due to changing demographics.  He said, "United Methodists on both sides now admit that given the demographics of our global denomination, no General Conference in the foreseeable future is expected to change our denomination's 'on paper' affirmation of biblical teaching on marriage and sex."

1 - Same-sex marriage rulings prove discouraging for advocates of traditional marriage

Just days after the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages and give such unions “full and equal protection, to the greatest extent under the law," two Federal judges issued rulings concerning the marriage amendments in two southern states

This week, a Federal judge struck down a part of the state of Kentucky's marriage amendment, approved by 75% of the voters there.  CitizenLink reports that the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn means Kentucky would have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries. He cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer that struck down part of the federal marriage law. The court will set a hearing soon to discuss when the order will take effect.

And, reports that U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk, Virginia struck down the marriage amendment in that state, approved by 57% of the voters. She stated in her opinion that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the right to due process and equal protection afforded under the U.S. Constitution.  However, Allen stayed the execution of her order pending appeal.

She asserted, “Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family.

There have been 4 court rulings within the past few months concerning states that are generally thought to be socially conservative - Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Virginia.   These have all been handed down by singular Federal judges who are using this opportunity to attempt to redefine an institution that has been a key building block of our society.

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