Numerous Southern Baptist, Evangelical Leaders Respond to 5-4 Marriage Decision: Christians ‘Will Stand Fast’

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Among reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling to declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right in all 50 states are numerous statements by Southern Baptist leaders and other evangelicals.

Following are statements by Southern Baptist leaders Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas; Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee; O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources; Roger S. Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations with the Executive Committee; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, and Travis Coleman Jr., president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and senior minister of First Baptist Church in Prattville; John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention; David Hardage, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Gus Reyes, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission.

From other evangelicals are statements by Jerry A. Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters; Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary; Jim Campbell, Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel; Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage; Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Institute president; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com.

Ronnie Floyd:

“I deeply believe in biblical and traditional marriage. The court has determined otherwise. Our #1 concern at this point is that religious freedom is protected in every way, honoring our God-given conscience, and that we not be discriminated against for our biblical and traditional stand. This decision shows one thing: Our desperate need for the next Great Awakening and the hope of the Gospel given to all persons. We must rise up like never before with great urgency, to forward the message of Jesus Christ to every person in America and across the world.”

Russell Moore:

“I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling handed down by the Court today, believing, along with millions of others, that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman and that it is improper for the Court to redefine an institution it did not invent in the first place.

“I believe this action of finding some illusory Fourteenth Amendment right to same-sex marriage will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion. In the wake of this decision, we must ensure that the American principles of pluralism and religious liberty are maintained, as the religious convictions of millions of Americans necessarily cause us to hold a different, more ancient, view of marriage than the one the Court has imposed. Additionally, today’s decision reminds us of the importance of electing a president who knows how to appoint jurists rather than would-be legislators to the bench.

“Despite this ruling, the church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. We will not capitulate on this issue because we cannot. To minimize or ignore a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed down to us, and we have no authority to do this. At the same time, now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. Marriage in the minds of the public may change, but marriage as a reality created by God won’t change at all. The church must now articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage and work to rebuild a culture of marriage.”

Frank S. Page:

“Our hearts are saddened to hear of the Supreme Court’s decision to ignore the desire of the American people, to ignore legislative processes and most of all to ignore God’s clear and unambiguous Word.

“Much like the Old Testament times where ‘the people did what was right in their own eyes,’ we have entered into a time of deep spiritual darkness. If there was ever a time when we need believers to be salt and light, it is now. God help us all, but especially our children and grandchildren.”

O.S. Hawkins:

“We find ourselves much like Peter and the apostles in Acts 5 as they told the leaders of their day, ‘We must obey God rather than men. …’ GuideStone Financial Resources continues to recognize that marriage is a God-ordained institution of one man and one woman united for life. Any other definition is unacceptable.”

“The cultural and legal landscape, which has been shifting for some time, has made a radical change with this ruling, perhaps as large or larger a shift than Roe v. Wade. GuideStone remains committed to advocating for the churches, ministries and pastors we serve during these days and will share information to help churches remain compliant in their health care and retirement plans.”

Roger S. Oldham:

“When courts legalize actions that contradict the commandments of God, the commitments and life choices of genuine Christ-followers will not change. It should not be surprising when they respectfully express their disagreement with the Court’s decisions, declaring their continued allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives as did the Apostle Peter when he said, ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).

“Our two dominant concerns about this Court’s decision are that personal religious liberty will be further eroded and that modern society will be increasingly confused about and led away from the enduring value of the natural family in God’s design and plan for humanity’s well-being. We hope and pray that, despite the Court’s flawed ruling today, it will continue to act in ways that will sustain the God-given and constitutionally-protected rights for citizens who disagree with the Court’s definition of marriage, especially when they exercise their religious values in the marketplace as well as in the church house.

“We believe that the natural family — a husband and wife, with children as granted by the Lord, whether through birth or adoption — reflects God’s design for humanity to flourish and prosper. We’re aware, of course, that families often fail to achieve this ideal. We thank God that He is never limited in His ability to create something beautiful out of human failings. However, we believe it is our spiritual responsibility to continue to uphold and abide by His ideal standards for marriage and family life.

“The power of being fully and freely forgiven of our sins through Jesus Christ can neither be supplied nor suppressed by governmental action, judicial decree, or cultural pressure. The Christian faith will continue to shine brightly despite this dramatic shift in society. We remain committed to Jesus Christ and His Word as revealed in Holy Scripture. We will continue to point people to Jesus Christ, the focus of our Christian faith. Only through His atoning death and resurrection can we receive the gift of salvation from our sins in this life and the promise of eternal life in the life to come.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr.:

“Everything has changed and nothing has changed. The Supreme Court’s decision today is a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman and in a five-to-four decision the nation’s highest court has now imposed its mandate redefining marriage on all fifty states.

“As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent, ‘The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment.’

“The majority’s argument, expressed by Justice Kennedy, is that the right of same-sex couples to marry is based in individual autonomy as related to sexuality, in marriage as a fundamental right, in marriage as a privileged context for raising children, and in upholding marriage as central to civilization. But at every one of these points, the majority had to reinvent marriage in order to make its case. The Court has not merely ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to marry — it has fundamentally redefined marriage itself.

“The inventive legal argument set forth by the majority is clearly traceable in Justice Kennedy’s previous decisions including Lawrence (2003) and Windsor (2013), and he cites his own decisions as legal precedent. As the Chief Justice makes clear, Justice Kennedy and his fellow justices in the majority wanted to legalize same-sex marriage and they invented a constitutional theory to achieve their purpose. It was indeed an act of will disguised as a legal judgment.

“The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the land, and its decisions cannot be appealed to a higher court of law. But the Supreme Court, like every human institution and individual, will eventually face two higher courts. The first is the court of history, which will render a judgment that I believe will embarrass this court and reveal its dangerous trajectory. The precedents and arguments set forth in this decision cannot be limited to the right of same-sex couples to marry. If individual autonomy and equal protection mean that same-sex couples cannot be denied what is now defined as a fundamental right of marriage, then others will arrive to make the same argument. This Court will find itself in a trap of its own making, and one that will bring great harm to this nation and its families. The second court we all must face is the court of divine judgment. For centuries, marriage ceremonies in the English-speaking world have included the admonition that what God has put together, no human being — or human court — should tear asunder. That is exactly what the Supreme Court of the United States has now done.

“The threat to religious liberty represented by this decision is clear, present, and inevitable. Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. This threat is extended to every religious citizen or congregation that would uphold the convictions held by believers for millennia.

“In that sense, everything has now changed. The highest court of the land has redefined marriage. Those who cannot accept this redefinition of marriage as a matter of morality and ultimate truth must acknowledge that the laws of this nation concerning marriage will indeed be defined against our will. We must acknowledge the authority of the Supreme Court in matters of law. Christians must be committed to be good citizens and good neighbors, even as we cannot accept this redefinition of marriage in our churches and in our lives.

“We must contend for marriage as God’s gift to humanity — a gift central and essential to human flourishing and a gift that is limited to the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We must contend for religious liberty for all, and focus our energies on protecting the rights of Christian citizens and Christian institutions to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction.

“We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman. … We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.

“We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us. Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again. God’s truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church’s mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”

Rick Lance and Travis Coleman Jr.:

“We are deeply saddened by the United States Supreme Court ruling which changes the legal definition of marriage and, as a result, is a radical departure from the biblical definition of marriage. We believe that this action has far-reaching moral and legal implications, even beyond the stated intent of the ruling itself.

“In the wake of this highly-anticipated decision, we as Alabama Baptists need to remain faithful to our calling to be the people of God, even in a culture that is becoming increasingly adverse to the biblical views of marriage and family. Our mission has not changed. Our beliefs have not changed. Our calling to be the people of God has not changed. Now more than ever, we must be the voice of authentic biblical Christianity.”

(A video response by Lance can be seen at https://vimeo.com/131897095.)

Click here for more.

SOURCE: Baptist Press
Art Toalston

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