Since the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage June 26, many North Carolina Baptist leaders haven’t shied away from voicing their disappointment on the controversial issue. They’ve also addressed how Christians should move forward.
The following is a series of quotes from N.C. Baptist pastors and seminary professors who shared their thoughts on the High Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In another case, the Court also essentially allowed to stand a federal judge’s invalidation of a California amendment that limited marriage to heterosexual couples. Though the Supreme Court stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the country, many N.C. Baptists remain uneasy about the future of the nation and the Church.
“A dark day in American history,” is how John Attaway, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in State Road, described the Supreme Court’s handling of the issue.
“I believe this ruling shows the depth of America’s rebellion against God and what He defines as moral and right,” Attaway said. “As a nation, we continue our headlong march toward total rejection of God’s truth and law. Like Israel, we refuse to do what is right in the sight of the Lord. The church, more than ever, must stand on God’s Word without wavering. We must proclaim it and live it unapologetically. It comes down to a question of authority and truth, and the church must uphold both as found in the Bible. We can expect opposition, even persecution, for doing so. We will be marginalized, criticized, and demonized for proclaiming ‘thus saith the Lord,’ but say it we must! These are ‘Noah days’ and perilous times, and we must remember that God is faithful, and will not abandon His people!”
“The Supreme Court’s recent ruling has been attributed to the shift in public opinion,” said Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville.
“Why wouldn’t public opinion be changing on this issue? You can’t watch a sitcom on television without seeing a character who is portrayed as a nice, friendly, normal, caring, responsible, funny person who just happens to be homosexual. Homosexuals are held with the highest of respect and admiration and even called ‘heroes’ when they ‘come out.’
“At the same time, Bible-believing Christians are portrayed as mean-spirited, narrow-minded homophobes. When we have been fed a steady diet of this propaganda from Hollywood – and Washington – for the last 20 to 30 years, it is no mystery why public opinion, particularly among our younger generations, have been largely won over to the homosexual agenda.
“There is a growing softness of this issue from within the church,” he added. “The softness toward same-sex marriage has come from many parents who have seen their children drift into this lifestyle as well as their own lack of biblical foundation. Sadly, many church members gain their perspective and insight more from the media than from God’s Word. … The recent High Court’s ruling should be a reality check for the church for the days ahead. … There has never been a time in our nation’s history for a greater need of holiness and cross-bearing from within the church. The church will either be a catalysts for spiritual renewal across our nation, or one of the sad reasons for its downward spiral.”
“As our culture becomes increasingly comfortable with homosexual marriage, the church must consistently and winsomely proclaim two complementary messages,” said Nathan Finn, associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
“On the one hand, we need to communicate the biblical vision of marriage as a lifelong, covenantal commitment between one man and one woman. This view of marriage is a picture of the gospel itself (Ephesians 5:22-33), so we must not retreat, even if our views seem bizarre or even insulting to many in our culture. America, like much of the West, is in a moral free fall. The church must be salt and light.
“On the other hand, we need to be diligent in applying the gospel to three types of people affected by this issue. Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction need to be reminded that no temptation is too great for them to bear with God’s help and the support of other believers (1 Corinthians 10:13). Believers who have engaged in same-sex sin at some point need to be reminded that all those who are in Christ have been forgiven of their sins, cleansed by the blood of Christ, and need not be haunted by the past (Colossians 2:13-14). Those who identify as homosexuals and pursue that lifestyle should be urged to repent of their sins and look to Christ for their salvation because homosexuality is unacceptable to God and leads to spiritual death (Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
“In the land of the free and home of the brave, disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage should be left to the people as instructed by conscience, tradition and faith,” said Daniel R. Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
“But what the Supreme Court majority has done is enshrine into the Constitution a radical redefinition of marriage under which sexual difference makes no difference.
“This is a tragedy that exalts private desires over the public good and sentiment over God’s ordering of creation. … The DOMA decision brands faithful Christians as un-American bigots driven, not by faith or even reason, but by nothing more than ‘bare … desire to harm.’ Such aspersion is not only completely false but demonstrates deeply rooted animus toward those who cling to faith in the wisdom and power of God.”
“It serves as a reminder of our fallen world but it also reminds us of our God-given task,” said Marty Jacumin, pastor of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh.
“Our gospel message has not changed, and we must continue to proclaim that message with conviction and purpose. It will be the gospel that changes hearts, not legislation.”
“When I think of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, one word comes to mind … opportunity,” said Ryan Pack, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville. “… When darkness gets darker, light shines brighter. Remember that the New Testament church grew and multiplied under some of the worse sexual perversions in history. This is an opportunity for the church to expand. Secondly, I believe this is an opportunity for revival. The American church is asleep and needs to wake up. Could this be our wake-up call to repent of our sins, fix our marriages and set a better example to a watching world? May God send revival!”
“The recent decisions by the Supreme Court and the reaction of the American people to them should serve as a wake-up call to the church in America,” said Joel Stephens, pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in Westfield.
“We cannot afford to live in denial anymore. Biblically-based morality is the minority opinion, and its ranks are shrinking exponentially. But this is not a time for despair. As the darkness deepens, the Light of Christ shines more brilliantly.
“Perhaps at no point in our nation’s brief history has the church been so needed as now. It’s time to rise up and be the church Christ desires – ‘a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but … holy and without blemish.’ America doesn’t know it, but she desperately needs a revived Church. But there will be no revival in the Church unless there is first an emphasis on holiness.”
“The decision of [the Supreme Court] was discouraging,” said Rit Varriale, pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby.
“Yet, the general apathy and cowardliness of the church in America is even more discouraging,” he added. “If we want revival in America, then we need the courage to obey God before we obey the government. When that happens, we’ll have revival” (Acts 5:29-32).