“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4 NASB)

Those are some strong words from God to His believers. But if you were to strip those verses of chapter and verse and attribute them to a regular person, “Christianity Today” may do a write-up on you, calling you unloving.

For the Bride of Christ, this comes as no surprise. After all, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” as 2 Corinthians 6:14 asks rhetorically.

The church has always been controversial in the world. If it isn’t, it ceases to be the Bride of Christ. And in this increasingly litigious and tolerance- or acceptance-happy society, the church is in a battle.

“How dare a church refuse to ordain a lesbian minister?” the world demands. “How dare the church refuse to ordain a woman?” others ask. “The church’s staff is not diverse enough,” worldly critics claim, “there are no openly bisexual transgender people leading the church.”

Think no one would sue a church for these issues? Think again. It’s happening. If your church runs a daycare, a school, or any program that deals with the world, it is open to attack.

What are we to do? Hide our beliefs?

Not at all! “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15 NASB) If we change our beliefs to avoid conflict or hide them to make the world happy, we become friends with the world and make ourselves enemies of God. 

That is not to say Christians are not called to love those in the world. What we are supposed to do is to not be anything like the world or be friends with the world. And yes, I had to throw that disclaimer in there before “Christianity Today’s” ardent readers come after me.

While studying for my J.D., I also studied for and obtained my LLM (the equivalent of a doctorate in the legal world) in alternate dispute resolution. In doing so, I took a class on arbitration, writing a paper on dispute resolution in the church. As a result, I learned that there is a clear line of defense for churches.

For starters, churches should write a statement of beliefs specifically addressing the issues of sexuality, gender, marriage, and sexual behavior. One could simply point to the Bible for this, but we do not wish the Bible to be a subject of interpretation by the court.

Next, this document should be well presented to the church and public. The elders need to read it to the congregation from the pulpit, it should be on the church website, and the pastor should preach on it. Live stream these messages and release the video so the church’s positions are well known.

Finally, in every contract the church needs to make, include a clause stating the signer has read and understands this statement of faith. For some contracts, it is necessary they agree with it. Even for facility use agreements, this should be in there. A clause should also be added stating that those wishing to sue the church must go to arbitration using the rules of Christian Conciliation and the panel of arbitrators be elders from that church and another church.

In following these steps, a church may avoid costly litigation and undue conflict, gaining a shield so that Christ’s Bride may shine as brightly as she is intended to shine. To implement this in your church, I recommend contacting your attorney and asking him or her to draft the clauses.

Laura Clark is a wife, mother, and community activist. She currently serves as the interim president of Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, a conservative nonprofit law firm that fights for limited government, free markets, and strong families in the courts.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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