FIRST-PERSON: The marriage moment
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- Two weeks ago, I had the privilege to speak at two wonderful gatherings in Washington, D.C. While I was there, each morning after my time with God and moments of study, I ran through our National Mall. There is nothing like running through this impactful city. Everywhere you go are reminders of our history and power as a nation.
The marriage moment in the United States
On my final morning, I focused some of my running in the region of the Supreme Court building of the United States. I thought about the upcoming ruling on same-sex marriage and this significant moment in our nation. Since 1973, Roe v. Wade and the legalization of abortion, I do not believe our Supreme Court has dealt with a more watershed case that has the potential to change the trajectory of the moral direction of our nation.
I prayed for a long while as I ran. I prayed for our Supreme Court. I prayed for God to move their hearts toward the biblical and traditional view of marriage. I prayed for the mercy of God for our nation regardless of their ruling.
Unquestionably, the outcome of their ruling not only impacts marriage, but also has the potential to restrain religious liberty in our nation. This is a moment when the church needs to cry out to God for His leadership, but it is also a moment when we must stand, forwarding a strong biblical worldview.
Timidity needs to be replaced with fearlessness. We need to resound what God's Word says about marriage. We cannot be silent now or in the future. We must be faithful to proclaim the biblical view of marriage.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "The definition (of traditional marriage) has been with us for a millennia. And it's very difficult for the court to say, 'Oh well, we know better.'" I could not agree more. We do not need the Supreme Court or anyone else attempting to redefine what God has defined already.
The Southern Baptist Convention in this marriage moment
In our great confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, we stand on these words: Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.
This statement is a message to our churches and to the world. On this message we stand.
Our churches need to be resolved not only on the uniting of one man and one woman in marriage, but also understand that marriage is a covenant commitment for a lifetime. We need to call all of our churches to stand for this biblical standard. Our own testimony in this realm needs to become much more biblical.
Regardless of the Supreme Court's decision relating to same-sex marriage, we need to know God has the final ruling on marriage. The Bible is God's final authority on the issue of marriage and He has already spoken.
Furthermore, we need to prepare for what may lie ahead in the future.
While some of our churches have ministries for those dealing with same-sex attraction, for those who may come to us and are already in same-sex relationships, or for the families that are dealing with the challenges relating to this issue, we need all of our churches to prepare to minister effectively in this area of need.
While truth must always be shared in love, we need to also insure the tone with which we share the truth is not one of judgment, but one of compassion and love. We need to hold the truth of God in one hand and the love of God in the other hand.
Our churches need to become a mighty testimony not only for truth but also for compassion and ministry. This is why we want to help prepare our churches at the Southern Baptist Convention. On Wednesday afternoon, we have scheduled a presidential panel, "The Supreme Court and Same Sex Marriage: Preparing Our Churches for the Future." By the end of the Supreme Court's session this month, their ruling will be communicated.
Whatever the Supreme Court ruling is:
-- We need to believe in and stand for biblical marriage.
-- Our churches need to be ready.
-- Ministries need to occur in our churches to help those who are struggling with the same-sex issue in various ways.
-- We need to hold the truth of God in one hand and the love of God in the other hand.
-- Pray for the Supreme Court and all of our nation's leaders, as well as for the future of our nation.
-- Forward the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are 14 days and counting until our Southern Baptist family converges on Columbus, Ohio, for our meeting on June 16-17. Until then, please join me in prayerful preparation.