Now that marriage equality is the law in Delaware there are still those who wrestle over a conflict between their religious belief concerning marriage and the desire to make sure everyone in society is treated equally.
A Wilmington pastor who supports Delaware’s marriage equality bill is now on record stating that he will not be performing any same-sex marriage ceremonies. Pastor Derrick Johnson of Joshua Harvest Church says some people may take it as a contradiction but that’s definitely not the case.
Although the Delaware marriage equality bill, extends the freedom to marry, churches will also have the freedom to decide whether or not to perform a marriage under the bill.
“I supported the bill because I believe equality is God’s ultimate goal and that equality is essential, not only to the fabric of American life but essential to spiritual life, and church life so I support equality at every level,” said Pastor Johnson.
However, Johnson won’t perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples because of the preamble of marital ceremonies which begins with the words “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together in the sight of God to join this man and this woman in marriage”.
“I do not believe those are words I have the authority to change,” said Johnson.
The Wilmington pastor points to the holy bible as his book of faith which he says contains a number of biblical references and statements concerning marriage, leading him to believe that he is not authorized to perform same-sex marriages.
“Unless further enlightenment comes, then I will not be performing those services. However, I will certainly support the human beings right to make the choices to love whom they want to love and will not judge their sin any differently than any sin is judged including my own,” said Johnson who acknowledges that members of the gay community are apart of his congregation.
Meanwhile, some pastors flat out disagree with the bill and the idea of performing ceremonies for gay couples.
“First of all I feel that marriage is a sacred thing, I think that it is from the Lord and for me I feel led to protect the definition of marriage as raised in God’s word,” said Pastor Mark Lashey of Life House Church in Middletown.
Lashey says he supports what God defines as marriage and that it is between one man and one woman. His belief according to the Middletown pastor, doesn’t mean he’s against people having rights or that he’s favored more.
“I don’t believe that God loves me personally more or favors me more than someone who pratices homosexuality. I just believe that marriage is spelled out for us in God’s word,” said Lashey.