A lesbian couple expressed outrage over a Tennessee church’s refusal to violate doctrine and recognize them as core members because of their homosexual marriage.
Jessica and Courtney Wright stopped attending Faith Promise church after church leadership informed them that they were not eligible to be core members because their marriage violates the church belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, according to WATE. The couple attended the church for two years.
The couple and their daughter moved forward with the initial requirements for core membership, including being baptized, before leadership told them their marriage precluded them from being members.
“Our marriage doesn’t agree with their core beliefs. That’s the reason why we wouldn’t be allowed to move forward and be in leading roles,” Courtney told WATE.
“We could attend, be a seat, give money and be attendance numbers and that was it,” Jessica added.
The church’s website lists the requirements for core membership as attending a Next Steps class, accepting Christ as Lord and Savior and receiving baptism, active and ongoing service in one of the church’s ministries, current attendance in a particular small group, and that the potential member “read and agree to the church doctrine.”
The church’s doctrine, also listed on its website, regarding family says, “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.”
Courtney and Jessica told WATE that they were drawn to the church by the statement on its website’s “What To Expect” section that reads in part :”We decided to be a church with a heart for those outside the church. A place where anyone can come and connect with God without the risk of being judged.”
“They are saying they still love us, they still want us to come. And then in the same breath, saying you can’t be a part of church, though,” Courtney said.
The church, however, said that Courtney and Jessica are more than welcome to be a part of the church community. The couple can attend the church but cannot become core members since they do not strive to live in accordance with the church’s doctrine.
“At Faith Promise we love and embrace all people because people are made in the image of God. We welcome anyone who desires to take their next step in search of the God of the Bible and invite them to be our guest at any of our campuses,” the church said in a statement. “Although we believe the Bible defines marriage, sharing this view is not a requirement to be a part of our faith community.”
Jessica and Courtney said, however, that they were at a loss as to why church leadership would wait to tell them that they could not be core members until after they had already gone through most of the steps for membership and were about to sign the papers.
As for the legality of the church’s decision, Akram Faizer, a law professor at Lincoln Memorial Univeristy, told WATE that the church was well within its rights in light of “freedom of religion and freedom of association” and the fact that sexual orientation is not a protected class.
The couple is currently seeking church membership elsewhere.