HOUSTON – Russell Moore is inviting Southern Baptists to a conversation on the nature of marriage.
“As evangelical Christians,” Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), noted, “we’ve surrendered on marriage in too many ways: on its permanence, on fidelity and even too many times on its nature rooted in sexual complementarity.
“Just because we’re not marrying two grooms or two brides doesn’t mean we’re standing firm on marriage,” Moore noted in a May 24 column.
Moore will be hosting a panel discussion – titled “Marriage on the Line: How the Church Can Reframe a Marriage Culture in a Troubled Time” – Tuesday morning, June 11, in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Houston. Joining him will be David Platt, pastor of Birmingham’s The Church at Brook Hills; Susie Hawkins, author and women’s speaker; J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Moore hopes the discussion will spark similar conversations in churches in order for Southern Baptists “to get serious about thinking through the next 50 years of discipleship on marriage.”
Saying that he doesn’t believe evangelical Christians are fully prepared to answer the question of what defines traditional marriage, Moore noted that Christians respond well to the issue within amicus briefs before the courts and in the public square but fare poorly when offering up an apologetic for God’s design for marriage within the confines of the church.
“Are we really the culture warriors we pretend to be?” Moore asked. “Even as we advocate for the sanctity of human life, advocate for the stability of the family and even as we talk about the importance of natural marriage – do our own marriages really reflect what the scriptures call the mystery of Christ and His church, that gospel picture the apostle Paul wrote of in Ephesians 5?”
There are theological as well as practical issues in standing against cultural trends and fostering a marriage culture that is distinctly biblical within the church, Moore said. It is not enough to simply have a position on what constitutes marriage, he said, citing a critical need for churches to help foster “marriage cultures that matter.”
“We not only need to shore up our understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but we must go further and indict ourselves for a divorce culture that has gone too far in our churches and for an understanding of marriage that often is so romanticized and psychologized that it fails to match up with what the apostle Paul talks about when he writes that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church – cross-bearing and self-sacrificing,” Moore said.
The ERLC will provide a light breakfast for those who attend the panel discussion, to be held in General Assembly C on Level 3 of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Registration is encouraged for the 7 a.m. breakfast panel. Visit erlc.com/sbc13/ for more information and to register.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dwayne Hastings is a vice president with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.)