By Bob Allen
The Southern Baptist Convention called on the U.S. Supreme Court to leave it up to the states to decide whether or not to permit gay marriage in a resolution adopted June 16 in Columbus, Ohio.
With a landmark ruling expected any day now on whether there is a constitutional right for same-sex couples to wed, Southern Baptists asked the high court “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 statement said. “No matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage.”
In his address to messengers, SBC President Ronnie Floyd said a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage “could be a watershed moment” in American history, changing the nation’s moral trajectory unlike anything since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing a woman’s right to abortion.
“I want to say to all evangelicals today, you can count on Southern Baptists,” said Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. “We will contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once and for all.”
The resolution, titled a “call to public witness on marriage,” said the religious liberty of individual citizens or institutions “should not be infringed as a result of believing or living according to the biblical definition of marriage.” It called on Southern Baptists and all Christians “to stand firm on the Bible’s witness on the purposes of marriage, among which are to unite man and woman as one flesh and to secure the basis for the flourishing of human civilization.”
Floyd said the Bible, not the Supreme Court or culture, is God’s final authority concerning marriage.
“As for me — and I also believe for thousands of pastors in this nation, but you are going to have to speak for yourself — but as for me, I declare to everyone today, as a minister of the gospel, I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies. I completely refuse.”
Other resolutions passed by messengers called for greater ethnic diversity in SBC churches and leadership roles, opposed abortion and pornography and denounced religious persecution around the world, with special attention to North Korea.