This is how the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article headline read Tuesday.
Since I wasn’t present, I don’t know if the writer got Ronnie Floyd’s words and attitude correct but the article looked about right.
Declaring “spiritual warfare” on gay marriage, thousands gathered here Tuesday for the annual Southern Baptist Convention and vowed that, no matter what the Supreme Court rules this month, they will never yield on the issue.
Floyd was, the article said, “generally defiant.” Fair enough. Probably more than “generally” defiant.
There are 46,449 Southern Baptist churches. You can still count on one hand the number who have been kicked out for being gay approving. We look pretty solid on the issue if also pretty pessimistic about the future of secular marriage law.
Atlanta is known to have very large gay community. I wonder if they saw instead this headline:
Baptists declare ‘spiritual warfare’ on gays and gay marriage
Buried in the article were some quotes from Bryant Wright, perhaps Atlanta’s most prominent (and very popular with the public) Southern Baptist pastor these days. Wright, always smooth and savvy, put his opposition to gay marriage, homosexuals, and lesbians in the context of divorce, adultery, and fornication. The message was that our beliefs call us to teach and preach that there is more to sinful behavior than homosexual activities. Aptly put, I thought.
Another Atlanta pastor against gay marriage and gays in the church was quoted as saying “the church is a God thing.” Perhaps he could refine that a bit before another occasion when his words are put out to tens of thousands to read.
Seems to me that it’s tough to get the tone right on this. We are defiantly against gay marriage and approval of homosexual behavior. We also love our neighbors. It should be clear to both our membership and the general public that we SBC clergy will not officiate a gay wedding and that our church facilities are not available for use for the purpose of gay ceremonies. Better get that written down somewhere, brethren. Additional questions concerning accreditation of our schools, non-discriminiation in the hiring of non-ministerial church or church school positions, and similar matters are of deep concern and in some cases carry a lot of uncertainty.
How to maintain biblical stances on this while conveying genuine love for our neighbors is difficult. This Journal-Constitution author commented that
The tone represented something of a shift from recent years when the convention sought a more subdued tone, focusing more on what people believed in, not what they were against, some longtime attendees said.
Maybe. But most of us will still preach on the Ten Commandments complete with their “thou shalt not(s)”.
Regardless, one would think that we Baptists ought to understand how to function when we are in the minority. We have quite a history there.
It was asked this week, “So what would it look like if 16 million Southern Baptists engaged in civil disobedience?”
No one alive will every find out, for reasons we understand too well.