Russell Moore is the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is the face and the voice of the SBC on matters of public policy. His role is thus of enormous importance since the SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in America, after the Catholic Church.
According to a piece by Byron York in the Washington Examiner — “Evangelical leader shows how GOP can finesse gay marriage” — Moore has made public statements that beg for clarification and possible correction.
Just the title of York’s piece is troubling enough. Do we really want evangelical leaders who want to “finesse” the issue of sodomy-based marriage? Do we not instead want, in fact, need, evangelical leaders who will paint with bold colors on the issue of marriage rather than the pale pastels that apparently fill Moore’s palette?
According to York, when Moore spoke to journalists at a conference sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, he could not even bring himself to insist that his own ideal candidate for the presidency in 2016 must be a vocal proponent of natural marriage.
Why? Because in Moore’s tragically short-sighted and weak-kneed view, the battle for marriage is lost and there is no point in fighting any more.
Moore contends that we must simply run up the white flag of surrender and embrace our dismal fate, apparently kind of like Poland in 1938. Says Moore, we must resign ourselves to accepting that “same-sex marriage is inevitable in American culture.”
Rather than standing our ground as the Scriptures instruct us to do, Moore instead urges us to meekly surrender and prepare for subjugation. “[W]e need to start preparing our churches for a new generation.” This is a generation apparently in which the normalization of sexual deviancy governs public policy while the church of the living God cowers in the fetal position in the corner.
Moore believes that fighting to protect natural marriage in our Constitution is “a politically ridiculous thing to do right now.” Adds Moore, “The illusion of a moral majority is no longer sustainable in this country.” Such pessimism is unbecoming for a man whose role is to be a leader in the task of returning our nation to its moral center. One begins to wonder exactly what the purpose of his office at the ERLC is. Put bluntly, Moore does not seem to believe that America can ever again be a shining city upon a hill.
This is a sadly defeatist attitude for an evangelical leader to take, particularly at a time when voters have gone to the polls in 31 states to elevate protection for natural marriage to their state constitutions. Only 4.5% percent of the American people live in states where voters have actually gone to the polls and voted to recognized same-sex marriage. It is absurd to believe that the battle is lost and that the debate is over.
Writes York, “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.” In other words, the best we can hope for is to plead on our knees for a few crumbs from the master’s table.
All we can dare hope for, according to Moore, is a presidential candidate “who is not hostile to evangelical concerns.”
This is flatly unacceptable. And even Moore admits that this throw-in-the-towel approach won’t even work. He is quick to admit that the Gay Gestapo will make absolutely no concessions to marriage advocates, say, on the issue of allowing adoption agencies to reserve placement for married households headed by a husband and a wife. Thus Moore concedes our enemies in the culture war will give us no quarter and our meekness will buy us no reprieve.
Even if Moore is right — and he is not — that evil will inevitably triumph, his position makes no logical sense. If we cannot possibly succeed, if all is lost, then why even have an Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission? And, on the other hand, if we cannot possibly succeed, then there is no reason not go down in a blaze of glory, by doing everything in our power to capture the flag. Assuming just for the sake of argument that we are going down to defeat, let’s at least make it a noble defeat, not the cowering, cringing one that Moore seems to picture here.
Moore is advocating that we surrender the high ground in the fight to protect the most fundamental institution in God’s economy, the institution of man-woman marriage, and retreat to the lowlands. Then, in his view, we will have to accept the likelihood that the totalitarian forces of Big Gay will push us into the sea where we, the cause of Christ, the family, and the kingdom of God will disappear beneath the waves.
Western Civilization once had leaders, who even when all seemed lost, absolutely refused to play the weakling. Leaders who, for instance, said things like:
We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
America, and the church in America, needs leaders like that again. The Southern Baptist Convention needs a leader like that. They need to ask themselves if they have one.
They alone can answer that question, but the question must be asked. And it must be answered.
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