Ala. Baptists grieved over marriage rulings

by Staff/Alabama Baptist, posted Friday, February 06, 2015 (4 years ago)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP) -- Alabama Baptists voted Friday (Feb. 6) to express "moral outrage, intense grief and strong disagreement over court rulings that have set our culture in a direction against the biblical definition of marriage."

Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions Executive Director Rick Lance (left) prays about state marriage ruling alongside state convention president Travis Coleman during the Feb. 6 State Board meeting in Montgomery. Photo submitted by The Alabama Baptist.
 
In the wake of a U.S. district judge striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban last month and a federal appeals court denying a delay on gay ceremonies beyond Feb. 9, the 100-plus member Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (ABSBOM) unanimously approved a resolution reaffirming biblical marriage during their meeting. The resolution is a reaffirmation of a 2013 Resolution on Strengthening Biblical Marriage.

A joint statement by Alabama Baptist leaders said "even as the stay on a federal court ruling expires on February 9, we grieve over the abandonment of biblical marriage as the cornerstone of our society."

When the stay expires, Alabama will become the 37th state in which same-sex marriage is legal.

"We pray that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule in a way that will protect states such as Alabama where voters have by majority vote expressed support for biblical marriage only," the statement said. "In Alabama's case, the vote was an overwhelming majority."

Rick Lance, ABSBOM executive director, said, "We cannot speak out on every issue, but biblical marriage is foundational to our culture. Change marriage laws and you change culture. Erode family and marriage and you erode the society in which we live. … We contend that the biblical definition of marriage is what we believe and we will try to do our very best to make sure Alabama Baptists have a voice out in the public."

Luther Strange, Alabama attorney general, expressed dissapointment in a prepared statement released after the stay on the lower court's decision was denied Feb. 3, the Huntsville Times reported.

He noted confusion throughout the state regarding this issue "could linger for months until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves this issue once and for all."

Meanwhile, many probate judges in the state have decided to stop holding marriage ceremonies.

The Resolution on Reaffirmation of Biblical Marriage encourages Alabama Baptists to "offer prayer and personal support for those probate judges who, exercising their personal religious liberties, conscientiously object to the affirmation of the marriage of same sex couples; and … pray for those with whom we disagree, specifically those who advocate the abolition of biblical marriage as the only legally sanctioned form."

The resolution also encourages Alabama Baptists to "commit to pray for the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court who are expected this year to issue a landmark ruling that could abolish the sole legality of biblical marriage throughout our nation." And they are encouraged to continue to be faithful to the biblical definition of marriage.

"We call for sincere repentance, earnest prayer and a commitment to seek God's face for a spiritual and moral awakening in America."

EDITOR'S NOTE: See full text below of joint statement released by Alabama Baptist leaders and the Resolution on Reaffirmation of Biblical Marriage.

Joint statement

From Rick Lance, executive director, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, Montgomery, Ala., and Travis Coleman, Jr., senior minister, First Baptist Church, Prattville, Ala., and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention:

We endorse the following resolutions that were adopted by the State Board of Missions on February 6. We likewise call upon Alabama Baptists to pray for our state and nation and to stand strong in support of biblical marriage as the only form that should be legal in Alabama and throughout our nation.

Even as the stay on a federal court ruling expires on February 9, we grieve over the abandonment of biblical marriage as the cornerstone of our society. We pray that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule in a way that will protect states such as Alabama where voters have by majority vote expressed support for biblical marriage only. In Alabama's case, the vote was an overwhelming majority.

We commend to Alabama Baptist congregations and their members these resolutions as worthy of consideration by our family of churches as they seek to be faithful to God and to His teachings in all of Scripture regarding marriage and healthy human relationships.

Resolution

ON REAFFIRMATION OF BIBLICAL MARRIAGE

WHEREAS, Alabama Baptists continue their faithful and unwavering support for biblical marriage as the only legally sanctioned form; and

WHEREAS, Alabama Baptists have expressed this support in various ways, including as a resolution adopted by the 2013 annual meeting of our State Convention; and

WHEREAS, Court decisions during the past several months have effectively abolished biblical marriage as the only legally sanctioned form in numerous other states across our nation; and

WHEREAS, On Friday, January 23, 2015, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade ruled that Alabama's Marriage Protection Act and the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment are unconstitutional; and

WHEREAS, On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to extend a delay on the District Judge's ruling; and

WHEREAS, The effect of the panel's ruling is that on Monday, February 9, 2015, Alabama will become the 37th state in which marriage licenses must be issued by probate offices upon request to same-sex couples; and

WHEREAS, Several Probate Judges have expressed plans to no longer officiate for wedding ceremonies; and

WHEREAS, A landmark decision from the U.S. Supreme Court is expected within a few months regarding marriage and same-sex couples; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, meeting in Montgomery on February 6, 2015, expresses moral outrage, intense grief and strong disagreement over court rulings that have set our culture in a direction against the biblical definition of marriage; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we offer prayer and personal support for those Probate Judges who, exercising their personal religious liberties, conscientiously object to the affirmation of the marriage of same-sex couples; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we will pray for those with whom we disagree, specifically those who advocate the abolition of biblical marriage as the only legally sanctioned form; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commit to pray for the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court who are expected this year to issue a landmark ruling that could abolish the sole legality of biblical marriage throughout our nation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage Alabama Baptists and all Christians to continue to be faithful to the biblical definition of marriage and that we call for sincere repentance, earnest prayer and a commitment to seek God's face for a spiritual and moral awakening in America; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we reaffirm the attached resolution that was adopted by messengers to the 2013 annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

This story was provided by The Alabama Baptist, with additional reporting by Baptist Press.
Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP).
Download Story