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On the Call to Public Witness on Marriage

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This month, the Supreme Court will issue a decisive ruling on whether citizens have the ability to define marriage through democratic channels. The Supreme Court has been called on once again to answer a question outside its purview—whether the U.S. Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage.

These are serious times that require the church to speak publicly, clearly, and resolutely when its fundamental teachings are on the government’s chopping block.

For that reason, we’ve co-authored and submitted a resolution to this year’s meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention titled “On the Call to Public Witness on Marriage.” Our purpose in drafting the resolution was simple. We believe it would be an enormously irresponsible and illegitimate action for the Supreme Court to redefine marriage. For that reason, we believe it necessary for Southern Baptists to go on record again stating our belief that the authority to redefine marriage does not reside with the government. And in the face of potential redefinition, the church should confess its beliefs and insist upon its stalwart devotion to biblical principle at whatever cost.

The Southern Baptist Convention represents a sizable portion of American evangelicalism, and the moment upon us affords the opportunity to help spur like-minded evangelicals along in biblical faithfulness.

Below is the text as was submitted to the Resolutions Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. We should note that a submission does not guarantee adoption by the Southern Baptist Convention. But we are asking our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters to give this resolution careful consideration and to stand together for marriage.

WHEREAS, God in his divine wisdom created marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman (Gen. 2:18–24); and

WHEREAS, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 recognizes the biblical definition of marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime;” stating further: “It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and his church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race;” and

WHEREAS, God ordains government to promote and honor the public good and recognize what is praiseworthy (Rom. 13:3–4); and

WHEREAS, the public good requires defining and defending marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman; and

WHEREAS, marriage is by nature a public institution that unites man and woman in the common task of bringing forth children; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States will rule in 2015 on whether states shall be required to grant legal recognition as “marriages” to same-sex sexual partnerships; and

WHEREAS, the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples will continue to weaken the institution of the natural family unit and erode the religious liberty and rights of conscience of all who remain faithful to the idea of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and

WHEREAS, the Bible calls us to love our neighbors, including those who disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, the Southern Baptist Convention prayerfully calls on the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the right of the people to define marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman; and

RESOLVED, that Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to countermand God’s definition of marriage; and

RESOLVED, no matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage; and

RESOLVED, that no citizen or institution should have their religious liberty infringed as a result of believing or living according to a biblical definition of marriage; and

RESOLVED, the Southern Baptist Convention calls on Southern Baptists and all Christians of like-mindedness to stand firm on the Bible’s witness on the private purpose of marriage, which is to unite man and woman as one flesh; and the public purpose of marriage, which is to secure the basis for the flourishing of human civilization; and

RESOLVED, that Southern Baptists love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.

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