Church leaders back marriage amendmentPublished 8:33pm Saturday, November 3, 2012
Just about everyone has an opinion on the marriage amendment Minnesotans will find on Tuesday’s ballot, and local church figures are no exception.
Mike Sager, senior pastor at Faith Evangelical Free Church who has served in Minnesota for 26 years, encouraged Austinites to vote “yes” on the marriage amendment not as a political issue, but as a way to acknowledge and uphold God’s model for society. He called it one of the most important issues Minnesotans will have to decide.
“Marriage is something God has designed for us,” he said. “God’s word states that we as humanity were created in God’s image, and in that image we were created male and female. It was on that basis being male and female that marriage was established.”
During services, Sager has referred to the book of Genesis in the Bible, and another spot where Jesus describes how a man and woman become one when joined together through marriage as part of Matthew 19:4-6.
“The fact that we are created male and female is what gives a basis for the marriage relationship,” Sager said. “Marriage is not simply about any two people who love each other and want to spend their lives together. It is pat of God’s design and provision for humane society.”
Children thrive in an environment where they have both a mother and a father, he said, and traditional marriage helps ensure they get it. In this way, Sager believes marriage can strengthen the whole community.
Part of what marriage, as an institution, is depends on its limits, he said. A mother can’t be married to her son, nor can first cousins wed. It is not for the sake of playing favorites or dislike for the individuals, but because it falls outside the limits of what God has defined as marriage.
“If you remove the gender dynamic, then why should a marriage be only two?” Sager said. “How about three or four or more?”
“From a biblical standpoint, there is no such thing as same sex marriage,” Sager said. “Redefining marriage will simply get us into deeper trouble as a culture when it comes to building healthy marriages, families and community.”
David Johnson, recent pastor at First Baptist Church, also wants to see the amendment pass.
“I’m totally in favor of the amendment,” Johnson said, adding he did not want the government legislating matters in people’s personal lives.
At First Baptist, talk of the amendment has stayed separate from services.
“It really hasn’t been a point of discussion here,” Johnson said. The church itself already believes marriage is solely between a man and a woman, so the congregation does not feel the need to talk about it, he said.
Instead of looking at changing marriage, Sager would like to reinforce the existing definition. He believes society should be encouraging a better understanding of what exactly it is as a stable, nurturing relationship.
Various other churches in the Austin area, including Holy Cross Lutheran and Queen of Angels, have sported their opinion with yard signs in support of the amendment, causing some to question whether such organizations are allowed to do so.
While endorsing a specific political candidate could cause churches to violate their 501(c)(3) status in the Internal Revenue Code, the Internal Revenue Service allows some lobbying for constitutional amendments as long as it’s not a “substantial” part of the church’s activities. While the IRS declined comment as to exactly what constitutes substantial, inexpensive yard signs are unlikely to meet the requirement.