Reply and Answer to Question 2
Some very relevant questions among many others for a church who desires to please our Lord are:
(1) Do your documents of church governance conform with Bible principle and example? For example, are your documents designed to address a law of man such as state non-profit incorporation law or federal IRC Section 501(c)(3) or 508? Even if your documents state Bible principles, is not the authority who decides contested issues should the civil government challenge your stated policies the relevant civil government agency with provision for appeal to civil court? In other words, who is the ultimate authority over the issue (this is the question to be answered, not, “Will your civil authority rule correctly should they contest your statements and practices?”)
(2) Does not a church who incorporates voluntarily contract with civil government? Does not that church agree to abide by all the law of incorporation under which they freely choose to incorporate? To understand church corporate 501c3 adn 508 status see https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/separation-of-church-and-state-gods-churches-spiritual-or-legal-entities/index-from-god-betrayed/. Does not a church who applies for 501c3 status agree that her authority as to the rules that she freely agree to will be the federal government? Does not a church who assumes 508 status agree that she is placing herself under the authority of a law of man for many purposes? See https://jeraldfinney.com/2014/04/28/church-internal-revenue-code-%C2%A7-508-tax-exempt-status/.
(3) Do not New Testament principles for church organization make clear that God, even though He gives man free will to go by His commandments and principles, desire that a church be under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ only? See, e.g., Ephesians 1.22, Ephesians 4, and the whole book of Ephesians (See https://jeraldfinney.com/2017/10/05/ephesians/), Colossians 1.18.
(3) Does not the First Amendment separate church and state (not God and state) in conformity to Bible principle? See, e.g., https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/god-betrayedseparation-of-church-and-state-the-biblical-principles-and-the-american-application/, https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/an-abridged-history-of-the-first-amendment/, https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/god-betrayedseparation-of-church-and-state-the-biblical-principles-and-the-american-application/online-version-of-the-book-god-betrayed/the-history-of-the-first-amendment/.
(4) Do not the constitutions of all states give churches a choice: operate outside the authority of state non-profit corporation law or become non-profit corporations (or other types of legal entities) under the authority for many purposes of man’s law?
(5) Does earthly, temporal, legal church organization (incorporation (aggregate or sole), 501c3 and 508 status and other types of legal entity status) conform with Bible principles for church organization? Does not Bible principle make clear that a church is to be under the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ only? Does not incorporation and any other type of legal church organization (organization under man’s law) place a church under the authority of man’s law for many purposes? Does not church legal status transform a church from spiritual, eternal, heavenly status only to a hybrid organization partly spiritual, eternal, and heavenly and partly worldly, temporal, and earthly?
(6) Who is a church to obey – God or man? See, e.g., the epistles of Paul, 1 and 2 Peter, https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/god-betrayedseparation-of-church-and-state-the-biblical-principles-and-the-american-application/online-version-of-the-book-god-betrayed/the-history-of-the-first-amendment/.
(7) Do Romans 13, 1 Peter 2.13, etc. require that churches obey every ordinance of man except, possibly, a proscription against preaching the gospel? See https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/render-unto-god-the-things-that-are-his-a-systematic-study-of-romans-13-and-related-verses/
The above are a sampling of questions which a church and a “Christian” attorney should ask when deciding how to organize. The answers to the questions will determine what documents a church drafts and what she puts in those documents. Will she draft, for example, a church covenant? Will her controlling document be the Word of God only? Will her controlling documents for many purposes be a charter, a constitution, by-laws, Internal Revenue Code Section 501c3 or 508? The choice belongs to the church. Their choice to remain under God only is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions.
I humbly submit that, according to Bible principle, a church should be a spiritual organism, not a worldly organization. Using man’s methods (which do not conform to God’s methods) always ultimately results in dire consequences. Taking a first step in dishonoring one’s lover, the Lord Jesus Christ, puts a church on the slippery slope down toward heresy and apostasy. Revelation 2:4-5: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
God bless you and all ADF staff and lawyers as you seek to please our Lord.
As to the proper response by believers and churches to the Obergefell decision, I respectfully offer the following: RESPONSE TO OBERGEFELL, THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT SAME SEX MARRIAGE DECISION