By Bob Allen
New guidelines that bar Southern Baptist military chaplains from leading or attending same-sex wedding ceremonies may force Bible-believing Christians to choose between serving God or country, a seminary president says in a blog and audio podcast.
“The repeal of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy — and now the nullification of the Defense of Marriage Act — puts evangelical chaplains in general, and Southern Baptist chaplains in particular, in a very difficult position,” Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler said in his Sept. 18 “The Briefing” podcast.
Mohler said guidelines handed down in August by the North American Mission Board, the Southern Baptist Convention entity that handles chaplain endorsement, “make very clear that Southern Baptist-endorsed chaplains are to do nothing by word or act to endorse homosexuality or its normalization.”
“They cannot either attend nor solemnize, that is to conduct, a same-sex marriage ceremony,” he said. “Nor, according to these guidelines, are they to allow themselves to be put into a position where when conducting something like a marriage retreat they include a same-sex couple, in terms of that retreat and its ministry. That would, by obvious implication, normalize and accept that same-sex marriage, which on the basis of Southern Baptist biblical conviction, SBC chaplains simply cannot do.”
Mohler’s comments came in response to a Sept. 16 Associated Baptist Press commentary by Tom Carpenter, co-chair of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy, suggesting that for chaplains who feel compelled to follow the new guidelines “the only honorable course” is to return to civilian ministry.
“What we are seeing here is the moral revolution driven by those who demand the total normalization of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, and this crisis will not be the last,” Mohler said. “The crisis over military chaplains will soon be extended to many others in different sectors of society.”
Mohler called the “full normalization of same-sex relationships” in the military and culture at large “the great cultural and moral conflict of our times.”
“This is a moment of crisis for the chaplains, but if we’re honest with ourselves it is a moment of crisis for every single Christian and beyond that for the entire nation,” he said. “If religious liberty is denied to evangelical chaplains, if those chaplains are told that they have to surrender their convictions or their commissions, then religious liberty is lost in America, and the chaplains will be but the first casualties of this loss.”
While focused now on chaplains, Mohler predicted the issue will extend “to almost everyone in the U.S. military.”
“I’m hearing constantly now from officers and enlisted personnel telling me that they are being forced into certain kinds of moral re-education and put into positions where their ability to remain in the military or to advance in rank is being put at risk by their own biblical convictions and the fact that they simply cannot endorse homosexuality, even though they are quite willing to work with others who do,” Mohler said.