COLUMBUS, OH, June 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) agreed that marriage is God-created and is exclusively between one man and one woman.
Five thousand delegates from the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. passed a pro-natural marriage resolution last Wednesday, entitled, “On The Call To Public Witness On Marriage.” Their annual convention, called “AVANCE 2015,” met at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio.
“God in His divine wisdom created marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman,” the joint statement began, then quoting both Old and New Testament scriptures, as well as the words of Jesus, to back up their claim.
The statement recognized “the biblical definition of marriage” as a heterosexual union lasting “for a lifetime.” The official document then described marriage as “God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman…the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression…and the means for procreation of the human race.”
The assembly agreed, that since “God ordains government to promote and honor the public good,” and that “the public good requires…defending marriage,” then a Supreme Court's potential “redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples will continue to weaken the institution of the natural family unit and erode…religious liberty and rights.”
The Southern Baptists resolved, because “the Bible calls us to love our neighbors, including those who disagree with us,” that they “prayerfully call on the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the right of the citizens to define marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman.”
“Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God’s definition of marriage,” the denomination concluded. “No matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to [natural] marriage.”
The resolution called upon “all Christians” to “stand firm” to defend natural marriage.
“This is a momentous time in our national life,” Denny Burk, who co-authored the resolution with Andrew Walker, commented. “In the aftermath of the sexual revolution, Christianity in America stands at a crossroads. We are finding out what it means to bear witness to Christ in a culture that grows increasingly intolerant of our ancient faith.”
“Nowhere is that conflict more acute than in what Christ teaches us about sexuality and marriage,” Burk said. “With the Supreme Court poised to rule on the matter later this month, the conflict will only grow more pronounced. Christ’s teaching about these matters has become in our day a line in the sand.”
Burk continued, “Even among those who call themselves Christian, people are choosing either to stay faithful to Christ’s teaching or to array themselves against it…It is for this reason that faithful Christians are having to retrench and restate with clarity what Christ has taught us. And that is what Southern Baptists have done today.”
Burk quoted First John 2:19 as describing those Christian leaders who “forsake Christ's teaching on marriage.” First John 2:19 reads, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us.”
Burk also quoted the Gospel of John, chapter one, verse five, to illustrate that Christians must bring the light of truth even though the world may misunderstand or mischaracterize our love: ” The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not comprehended it,” Burk quoted. “But it shines nonetheless.”
The SBC concluded that “the religious liberty of…citizens or institutions should not be infringed as a result of believing…the biblical definition of marriage.”
The resolution ended with an affirmation of love for all people, whether they agree with Southern Baptists or not.
We “love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.
SBC President Rev. Ronnie Floyd powerfully addressed the convention before they voted on the resolution. He described the cultural climate in the U.S. as “spiritual warfare,” and said his denomination would not back down in the face of a Supreme Court ruling and shifting public opinion on same-sex marriage. “This is not a time for Southern Baptists to shrink back in timidity or shrink back with uncertainty,” he said.
“This is not the time to retreat,” Floyd, the pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas, said. “The need is great, the hour is late, and now is the time to lead…The alarm clock is going off around the world. Now is not the time to hit the snooze button.”
With enthusiasm, Floyd said Southern Baptists “need to stand up and pray like never before, even as other churches bow to political correctness and cultural pressures…May the world never have to ask again, where are the leaders?”
Floyd predicted the effect of a Supreme Court decision authorizing homosexual “marriage” “would add more fuel to the already sweeping wildfire of sexual revolution and move it beyond all control.” He preached that Baptists should lead society on the issue.
“While we affirm our love for all people, including those struggling with same-sex attractions, we cannot and will not affirm any behavior that deviates from God's design for marriage,” said Floyd. “Our first commitment is to God.”
“I humbly remind everyone today, that the Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority, nor is the culture itself, but the Bible is God's final authority about marriage,” he said, quieting his voice somewhat.
He then laid down the gauntlet: “I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies.”
In response, the convention erupted in thunderous applause.
Floyd also spoke about abortion, the advance of ISIS, human trafficking, Boko Haram, the persecution of Christians as well as crippling domestic problems. “Abortion is a glaring desecration of the unborn child's purpose and value,” said Floyd. “We must be vigilant in this fight for…all human life and human dignity —from the womb to the tomb. God has created all of us for His glory, and when we devalue human life, we are robbing God of his intended glory for every person in the world.”
Floyd concluded that he was praying for the next great spiritual awakening, stating, “We need a Jesus revolution!”
One of the delegates, called “messengers,” former Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright, said he was keenly aware that what they are preaching is misunderstood. “We understand how fully unpopular our view is,” he said. “But we must stay true to God’s Word.”