The following document outlines the position of Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church with respect to our beliefs concerning marriage, gender and human sexuality. The document does not exhaust the extent of our faith. Our policies are founded upon the inerrant Word of God as outlined in the Bible. As followers of the Christ, the fully divine and fully human incarnation of God, we are compelled to make all application of His teachings to our faith, to life and practice. For purposes of church doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, our Elder Board is the church’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
What We Believe About Marriage, Gender and Sexuality
We believe, based on the teaching of the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments, that marriage is an institution ordained and defined by God from the foundation of the world, and intended as a lifelong union of one man and one woman. This idea is supported by the account of creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. We believe that God has created humans in his image and that image is reflected in both male and female. Gender is determined by God at the moment of conception as marked by the individual’s chromosomal makeup and physical genitalia at birth. Genesis 1:26-28 provides that God created both male and female, two distinct co-equal complementary genders, together to reflect the very nature and image of God for the purpose of procreation and partnering in life together. Genesis 2:15-25 clearly states that God created male and female as partners. This passage implies that a unity of one man and one woman is in some way necessary to fully represent the image of God in mankind. God did not create a second man to be Adam’s helpmate, or an assortment of multiple women, or other configuration of partnerships; but rather one woman. Together they were man and wife and had “no shame” or sin in their union with each other.
Jesus himself, supported the teaching of the Old Testament when He said, as recorded in Matthew 19:4-6,
“Haven’t you read, he replied, that at the beginning the creator made them male and female and said for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The Apostle Paul, writing authoritatively under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, states in Ephesians 5:22-32 that marriage is not merely a human institution, but is a special divine metaphor that is supposed to illustrate the union of Christ and the church. For this reason also, only a union between a man and a woman can be a proper marriage because a union between two men, two women, or one man and multiple women or any collection of people and/or animals could not properly illustrate the relationship between Christ and His church.
We believe that our church must strive to adhere to all Biblical principles. We are obligated to follow the teachings of Christ and his apostles as outlined in the inspired Biblical text (Matthew 7:24-29 and I Corinthians 14:37). The church is called to instruct and practice these teachings. We see them as foundational truths. We are not at liberty to depart from them for a different authority if the church is to authentically bear the name "Christian." Though we strive to live peaceably with all people and to obey legitimate government authority, in instances involving matters as foundational as marriage we must ultimately obey God rather than man if the two come into conflict (Acts 4:18-22).
Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church Faith Based Policy on Marriage, Gender and Sexuality
As a result of these above described religious beliefs, we believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning as defined by God our creator. That is, the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as outlined in Genesis 2:18-25. Further we believe that sexual intimacy is to be confined to one man and one woman joined in marriage.
We believe that any form of sexual immorality to include adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bi-sexual conduct, sexual conduct with children, bestiality, incest, use of pornography and/or attempting to change one’s biological sex (or otherwise acting upon any disagreement with one’s biological sex) is an abomination before God, seen as sin, and is offensive to Him. (Matthew 15:18-20; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Therefore, it is the policy of Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church, that the facilities and resources of this church may not be knowingly used for any ceremony that in any way approves of, solemnizes, supports or allows a same-sex and/or transgender union. It is also the policy of Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church, that no pastor or member of the church staff shall officiate at any ceremony designed to solemnize, promote, create, or approve of a same-sex and/or transgender union. Further, no member of Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church may enter into such a union without being subject to church discipline and potential removal from the church.
We believe that gender is determined by God biologically created at the moment of conception as marked by the individual’s chromosomal makeup as well as physical genitalia at birth. Rejection of one’s biological gender is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:19-21; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31) Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be rejected and are not in accordance with Scripture nor the doctrine or belief of Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church.
We believe that it is imperative that unity be preserved within the church. Therefore, to preserve the function and integrity of the church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the church members and the community, it is imperative that all employees, members, and volunteers will agree to and abide by the above statement regarding marriage, gender and sexuality.