Are Southern Baptists Ceding Ground in Natural Marriage Debate?
A Pew survey, released just this month, reveals that an overwhelming majority of Democrats (69 percent) approve of unnatural marriage. However, only 39 percent of Republicans do. Pew also breaks those numbers down further by age group. 61 percent of Republicans aged 18-29 approve of unnatural marriage, and 43 percent of those aged 30-49 approve.
So, what kind of Republican presidential candidate can we expect in 2016? Will the GOP field a candidate who takes a strong stance in favor of biblical marriage, or will they try to dupe a majority of their conservative voting bloc by opting for a deceptive, nuanced stance? In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Byron York writes that “a hint came this week, not from a politician, but from a leading evangelical.”
At a conference of journalists, Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was asked to describe his ideal presidential candidate with regard to the same-sex “marriage” issue.
“I would want a presidential candidate who understands the public good of marriage,” Moore responded, “and one who is not hostile to evangelical concerns, and who is going to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience.” Moore’s answer did not, however, include a firm requirement that a Republican presidential candidate be a vocal supporter of natural marriage. Later in his speech, Moore stated that he believes evangelicals are “beginning to realize that the American culture is moving toward same-sex marriage.”
Moore continued, “We have been saying, ‘Look, same-sex marriage is inevitable in American culture.’ It doesn’t mean we should stop talking about it … It means we need to start preparing our churches for a new generation.”
As Byron York observed, “Moore’s fallback position — there’s no other way to describe it — is to insist that once the marriage fight is lost, the beliefs of Americans who oppose homosexual marriage on religious grounds be respected…There’s little doubt he’s putting new emphasis on liberty and less on manning the barricades against gay marriage.” However, Moore did wisely acknowledge that sin-based marriage activists, who have filed numerous lawsuits against Christian businesses and organizations across the country, are not going to willingly respect the religious freedom and conscience rights of those who do not support the reckless redefinition of marriage. He admits we are going to have to fight to protect our First Amendment rights in the courts.
Additionally, Moore explained that he thinks a constitutional marriage amendment is “a politically ridiculous thing to do right now.” Many Christians, who disagree with that premature assessment, would actually argue that this is not the time to concede defeat. It is absolutely critical that we continue our fight for true marriage at every point. The soul of America and the future of the family are at stake.
“As time goes on, the illusion of a moral majority is no longer sustainable in this country,” Moore said, “I don’t think the culture wars are over … but are moving into a new phase.” Moore’s new “phase” sounds an awful lot like retreat to me, and the homosexual activists will definitely see this as further evidence that they should double down on their destructive efforts.
Protecting religious liberty is certainly very important, but to do so, while at the same time, ceding the rest of the country to the homosexual activists is not a position that evangelicals should adopt. We are called to a transformational role for the entire world, and that includes all of America. Merely protecting our turf is not the Christian thing to do.
Moore represents an influential voice, but let’s just hope he doesn’t speak for most concerned Christians.
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