Southern Baptists will be gathering in Alabama’s capital on Monday to discuss how to teach about issues such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and how to discuss former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner’s transformation from man to woman.
The Church and Sex Conference will be held at First Baptist Church in Montgomery on Monday, Feb. 29, 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The keynote speakers include Beeson Divinity School Dean Timothy George, from Samford University in Birmingham, and the Rev. Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. That’s the agency that helps express where the nation’s largest Protestant denomination stands on social issues.
AL.com interviewed Moore today to discuss issues relating to the Church and Sex Conference, organized by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. Admission to the conference is $25, which includes lunch and a copy of Moore’s book, “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.” We also asked Moore about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the current frontrunner in the upcoming presidential primary on March 1, and about how he advises Christians to vote. The interview has been edited and condensed.
AL.com: Why is there a need for a conference on The Church and Sexuality?
Russell Moore: We’re in a moment where Christians can’t expect people to understand what we mean when we talk about marriage and sexuality. We have to explain, explicitly, what we mean. We can’t count on the culture to be pre-evangelized. Training churches to be able to speak truthfully and with grace and kindness is critically important. From the beginning, Christianity has been counter-cultural on marriage and sexuality issues. We cannot change our stance. We don’t have the authority to do that. We really believe that Jesus has told us what sexuality is and why it matters.
AL.com: How would you explain to Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner your objection to his/her gender transformation?
Moore: It would take a long time to explain. There is a contemporary view of gender that wants to disconnect gender from bodily reality. That’s a tendency we’ve seen at other times in church history, with the heresy of Gnosticism. I don’t deny that some of us feel alienated from our gender. We all at times feel alienated from our physical realities. That’s what it means to be human beings post-fall. We have to learn to submit to our created-ness and the limits of our created-ness. The church cannot address the transgender question with stereotypical views of masculinity and femininity. The church at times has done that. That confuses the issue. Many times we have responded with cultural stereotypes, not biblical teaching, embracing cultural stereotypes of masculinity and femininity in a way the Bible never does. A young woman who doesn’t want to dress up in lipstick and high heels but wants to be in the deer stand with her dad, she has a femininity that we need to be able to embrace. She shouldn’t have to live up to the ideals of Madison Avenue. The same is true for men. David is a warrior; he’s also a harpist.
AL.com: How do you see the church responding to the court rulings legalizing same-sex marriage?
Moore: There are a lot of people outside the church who just assume that Christians will capitulate on those issues. We don’t have the authority to revise our views on sexuality. The sexual revolution is making a lot of promises it can’t keep. We are advising our churches to be ready for the refugees from the sexual revolution, for people hurt by the redefinition of sexuality and marriage. There are many people who have been hurt by it. Hold to the biblical view.
AL.com: Could marriage be further redefined in the future, maybe to allow polygamy?
Moore: Polygamy was tolerated in the Old Covenant. The union of a man and a woman is established in the New Covenant and strictly enforced. Biblically, we cannot go towards polygamy. Legally, there is no logical reason why a future court would not affirm multiple-person marriages. That’s exactly what Justice Scalia predicted in his dissent. Once marriage is disconnected from an objective natural reality and the best interests of children, there is no reason to define marriage in a way that limits individual autonomy.
AL.com: Do you worry that many evangelicals say they support Donald Trump?
Moore: I’ve spoken very publicly about concerns about Trumpism. I think there’s a myth that evangelicals are driving the Trump phenomenon. If you look at who is supporting Trump, and who regular churchgoers are supporting, the differences are stark. The number one predictor (for opposing Trump) has been church attendance. Evangelical has become a meaningless term, because people may identify themselves with a religious tradition of their family, while not attending church themselves.
AL.com: Do you think Donald Trump understands Christian faith?
Moore: He does not understand what Christian faith is or is about. Many of the primary religious liberty concerns we face come because people don’t understand religious motivation. Many of the people in Washington who disagree with me are not trying to restrict Christianity, they just don’t understand what it means to feel that you are going to stand before the Lord and be judged.
AL.com: Kirk Cameron has said in an interview with us that adultery in the church should worry the church more than same-sex marriage. Do you agree with that?
Moore: We have to speak consistently about sexuality morality and about God’s grace, and about forgiving people. That means addressing issues within the household of God as well. That includes a divorce culture that is all too common in our own churches. Internet pornography has become ubiquitous in a way that’s harming families.
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SOURCE: AL.com – Greg Garrison