WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court transformed the legal definition of marriage June 26, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
In a 5-4 decision, the high court ruled states must recognize marriages between people of the same sex, providing a new definition throughout the country to an institution created by God as a covenant between a man and a woman.
Baptist leaders expressed their dismay at the opinion, as well as their encouragement for the church to respond with courage and compassion.
“I deeply believe in biblical and traditional marriage. The court has determined otherwise,” SBC President Ronnie Floyd said in comments for Baptist Press.
“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,” Floyd said.
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, wrote on his blog (paulchitwood.com): “The hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ and our confidence in the sovereignty of God gives Baptists in Kentucky joy and optimism even in the face of (the Supreme Court’s) ruling ….
“Moving forward, one of the most pressing questions now regards religious liberty. Does the ruling threaten this foundational principle of American law and life?” he asked.
” … Appealing to the First Amendment, biblically faithful Baptists in Kentucky will continue to preach and teach God’s truth on the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, as well the sinfulness of the homosexual lifestyle,” Chitwood continued. Should the First Amendment fail to provide protection to the Church, nothing changes. Like the early disciples, those who love the Lord and live by His word will continue to do what pleases God rather than men and face whatever consequences Caesar may bring.
“As for our ministry to those who practice homosexuality, again, nothing has changed. We will continue to love all sinners and hate all sin, including the sin of homosexuality,” he concluded.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “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.
“Despite this ruling, the church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. We will not capitulate on this issue because we cannot,” Moore said. “At the same time, now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. The church must now articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage and work to rebuild a culture of marriage.”
Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said, “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.
“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.”
Same-sex marriage already was legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Court rulings had produced legal gay marriage in more than two-thirds of those states before the justices’ opinion expanded it to all 50 states. (BP/WR)