Among early reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling to declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right in all 50 states are several by Southern Baptist leaders.
Following are statements by Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church in northeast Arkansas; Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee; and Roger S. Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations with the Executive Committee.
“I deeply believe in biblical and traditional marriage. The court has determined otherwise. Our number one concern at this point is that religious freedom is protected in every way, honoring our God-given conscience, and that we not be discriminated against for our biblical and traditional stand. This decision shows one thing: Our desperate need for the next Great Awakening and the hope of the gospel given to all persons. We must rise up like never before with great urgency, to forward the message of Jesus Christ to every person in America and across the world.”
“I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling handed down by the Court today, believing, along with millions of others, that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman and that it is improper for the Court to redefine an institution it did not invent in the first place.
“I believe this action of finding some illusory Fourteenth Amendment right to same-sex marriage will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion. In the wake of this decision, we must ensure that the American principles of pluralism and religious liberty are maintained, as the religious convictions of millions of Americans necessarily cause us to hold a different, more ancient, view of marriage than the one the Court has imposed. Additionally, today’s decision reminds us of the importance of electing a president who knows how to appoint jurists rather than would-be legislators to the bench.
“Despite this ruling, the church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. We will not capitulate on this issue because we cannot. To minimize or ignore a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed down to us, and we have no authority to do this. At the same time, now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. Marriage in the minds of the public may change, but marriage as a reality created by God won’t change at all. The church must now articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage and work to rebuild a culture of marriage.”
Frank S. Page
“Our hearts are saddened to hear of the Supreme Court’s decision to ignore the desire of the American people, to ignore legislative processes and most of all to ignore God’s clear and unambiguous Word.
“Much like the Old Testament times where ‘the people did what was right in their own eyes,’ we have entered into a time of deep spiritual darkness. If there was ever a time when we need believers to be salt and light, it is now. God help us all, but especially our children and grandchildren.”
Roger S. Oldham
“When courts legalize actions that contradict the commandments of God, the commitments and life choices of genuine Christ-followers will not change. It should not be surprising when they respectfully express their disagreement with the Court’s decisions, declaring their continued allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives as did the Apostle Peter when he said, ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).
“Our two dominant concerns about this Court’s decision are that personal religious liberty will be further eroded and that modern society will be increasingly confused about and led away from the enduring value of the natural family in God’s design and plan for humanity’s well-being. We hope and pray that, despite the Court’s flawed ruling today, it will continue to act in ways that will sustain the God-given and constitutionally-protected rights for citizens who disagree with the Court’s definition of marriage, especially when they exercise their religious values in the marketplace as well as in the church house.
“We believe that the natural family – a husband and wife, with children as granted by the Lord, whether through birth or adoption – reflects God’s design for humanity to flourish and prosper. We’re aware, of course, that families often fail to achieve this ideal. We thank God that He is never limited in His ability to create something beautiful out of human failings. However, we believe it is our spiritual responsibility to continue to uphold and abide by His standards for marriage and family life.
“The power of being fully and freely forgiven of our sins through Jesus Christ can neither be supplied nor suppressed by governmental action, judicial decree, or cultural pressure. The Christian faith will continue to shine brightly despite this dramatic shift in society. We remain committed to Jesus Christ and His Word as revealed in Holy Scripture. We will continue to point people to Jesus Christ, the focus of our Christian faith. Only through His atoning death and resurrection can we receive the gift of salvation from our sins in this life and the promise of eternal life in the life to come.”
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has compiled resources to help explain the ruling and what it means for Christians and churches, available at ERLC.com/SCOTUS.