The Sanctity of Marriage:
Out of a growing concern on the part of your pastor and Board of Deacons, the following statement is an expression of our basic opinion on Christian marriage and divorce:
- The Bible clearly teaches that God’s ideal design is that every marriage should be a lifetime commitment (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6, 8).
- When couples recognize that their marriage has problems, they should take action personally to resolve the difficulties and, if necessary, seek out competent Christian help (a mature Christian friend, a church leader, the pastor, a professional Christian counselor). The couple should not wait until the problem seems beyond repair, and they should not consider divorce as a viable solution (Gal. 6:2).
- Whenever the pastor or Board of Deacons are made aware that a couple is considering divorce, they will schedule a meeting to confront the couple with the biblical teachings on divorce and to urge them strongly to seek other avenues for help (Heb. 13:17). Couples experiencing marital difficulties will be expected to resign from church leadership positions. This does not preclude the possibility of future service.
- When a marital break-up does occur and there is clear evidence of open immorality on the part of one or both of the partners, the pastor and Board of Deacons will confront the sinning party directly. They will remove the individual(s) from church membership and from fellowship if the sinful action continues without evidence of true repentance (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:1-5). Such removal may be done publicly. The purpose of such severe discipline is to lead the person(s) to full restoration (2 Cor. 2:6-8).
- When divorce does occur, the pastor and Board of Deacons will seek to minister in compassion and love toboth of the wounded partners. The pastor and Board of Deacons will continue to guide prayerfully the partners towards possible reconciliation (1 Cor. 7:10-11).
- We recognize that the issue of divorce and remarriage is a very complicated subject, and that not all Bible teachers take the same basic position. Allowing for such differences, we trust this statement of concern will be used to help those who are experiencing difficulties in their marriages. We also trust that those who are contemplating marriage will regard this institution as sacred and permanent.
The Sanctity of Life:
We, the pastor and the Board of Deacons of Grace Baptist Church of Millersville, acknowledging the sovereignty of God and His absolute authority over all living things, believe:
- that God is our Creator (Gen. 1:26, 27) and the Giver of all life.
- that biblical evidence (Luke 1:41, 44) makes it clear that an unborn child has personhood, and therefore, has life.
- that the unborn child is known of God (Psalm 139:13-16).
- that the unborn child has a right to life equivalent to any other person in God’s creation (Ex. 21:22-25).
- that abortion is a life-terminating act.
- that humanistic and subjective evaluations of unwanted pregnancies have no place in the Christian ethic.
God is gracious, forgiving, and compassionate; when an abortion does occur, the pastor and Board of Deacons will seek to minister in compassion and love to the individual. The pastor and Board of Deacons will continue to guide prayerfully the individual in the healing process.
We believe that abortions are ungodly and to be abhorred. Abortions should be rejected as an alternative by those who have accepted God’s gift of eternal life. Furthermore, we submit that as Christians, we should speak out regarding our beliefs and offer truth to counter the worldly rhetoric surrounding the issue.
The Sanctity of Sexuality:
Regarding the issue of homosexuality, it is the position of the pastor and the Board of Deacons of Grace Baptist Church of Millersville:
- That homosexual behavior is sinful. “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Lev. 18:22). “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable” (Lev. 20:13). “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals” (1 Cor. 6:9).
- That homosexual behavior is abnormal. “… for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts” (Rom. 1:26-27).
- that homosexuality is not biologically determined, i.e., an individual is not born a homosexual. To believe otherwise would be inconsistent with our basic tenet that homosexual behavior is sinful.
- that homosexual individuals can be changed through spiritual conversion and Christian growth (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
The church should minister to homosexuals, admonishing them to repent of their sin and aid those who wish to have victory over it (1 Thess. 5:14; Gal. 6:1).
Any attempt to legitimize homosexuality as an alternative life-style through legislative or executive action is unworthy of Christian support and should be actively opposed.
Approved by the Board of Deacons
December 22, 2003
On the basis of our relationship with Jesus Christ, God has made us accountable to one another. One of the ways the local church expresses this accountability is through church discipline. While the word “discipline” refers broadly to all of the training provided by the church to help believers grow in the faith, the phrase “church discipline” usually has a negative emphasis, describing actions by the congregation that may result in dismissal from membership.
Church discipline is a confrontational process done, not out of anger or revenge, but in love and with the hope that an unrepentant member of the congregation will confess and renounce their sin. Scripture describes church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-11, Galatians 6:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:19-20, Titus 3:9-11, Hebrews 12:1-14.
Scripture enjoins followers of Christ to “cover sins” (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8). By “covering sin,” we believe the Bible calls us, as much as possible, to forgive unilaterally minor faults, unverifiable sins, and personal offenses. By covering another’s sins, a believer chooses to forgive without confrontation, demanding an apology, or mentioning the matter to the offender or anyone else in the congregation. This is the norm for much of our interaction with one another.
Matthew 18:15-17 provides the basic pattern for church discipline when covering the sin is insufficient to deal with the offense. For example, if the offense has significantly damaged a relationship between believers or become so disruptive that it harms the church, attempting to forgive unilaterally is unwise. The offended person must first discuss the matter privately with the offender in hopes of reconciliation. If the offender refuses to confess and ask for forgiveness, the offended believer must choose again either to forgive or to proceed in the discipline process.
The second step involves taking another member (or two members) along to discuss the offense with the offender. Should this bring no positive result, the offender must report the matter to the entire congregation. This will be done through the leadership of the Board of Elders. After the congregation is informed and if the offender fails to repent, the church is responsible to dismiss the offender from membership. The unrepentant offender will not be eligible to serve in the congregation nor will he or she be served the Lord’s Supper.
Members of the church must recognize that such public announcements, while extremely unpleasant, are mandated by Scripture as part of the church’s responsibility toward each believer.
In cases of flagrant, public sin, the issue may be dealt with immediately and directly by the Board of Elders. The ultimate decision of dismissal must come from the membership.
Church discipline is a serious matter that involves weighty sins. Grace’s constitution offers three reasons why someone may be dismissed from church membership: failure to attend services for one year, flagrant sin, and deviating from Scriptural teaching as summarized in the doctrinal statement.
The author of Hebrews says that discipline is a painful, not a pleasant, experience. For the good of the church and the glory of God, we affirm our commitment to this biblical practice.
Approved by the Board of Elders
January 22, 2007