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SBC seminary presidents, faculties affirm biblical marriage
May 18, 2004
By Jason Hall
The presidents of the six Southern Baptist seminaries issued a joint statement May 17 upholding marriage as the permanent union between one man and one woman as defined by God in the Bible. They called on all Southern Baptist churches to stand in defense of the institution of marriage.
Joining the presidents in affirming the statement, titled “Let No Man Put Asunder,” are the faculties of each institution, totaling more than 300 evangelical scholars. The presidents hope the statement will be a clarion call to the church at large, and Southern Baptists in particular, to speak out against homosexual activists and others who want to rewrite the definition of marriage in the United States.
“Southern Baptists should begin now to educate themselves on the issue,” said Charles Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “This is one of the major reasons why I think this resolution is a good thing.”
In addition to Kelley, the statement was signed by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., who drafted the statement; Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif.; Phil Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.; and Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
The presidents’ statement comes as Massachusetts has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following a controversial ruling by the state’s high court late last year.
“This is a mammoth issue since the family is the fabric of all social order,” Patterson said. “Furthermore, the judgment of God looms before a society that cannot retain clarity on the basic unit of relational life.”
Akin, who has made marriage and family issues a focus of his personal ministry and a priority at Southeastern, agreed, calling the recognition of homosexual “marriage” and same-sex unions a “watershed moment in Western civilization.”
The statement asserts that marriage “is not a human contrivance. Indeed, it is part of God’s perfect design for his human creatures. We affirm that marriage was designed for humanity by our Creator, who gave us marriage for the rightful ordering of human sexuality and relationships.”
The presidents emphasized that their convictions regarding marriage are not based on bigotry or prejudice, as many activists and leftist politicians claim, but instead are based on the one unalterable standard of truth -– the Bible.
“Sexual orientation has never been an issue of personal prejudice or discrimination,” Roberts said. “It is not an issue that can be defined any way else, but as a moral choice. Therefore, it would be hard to rationalize that to oppose an issue that is clearly against God’s law as being an expression of bigotry.”
Patterson agreed, saying, “Sincerely held convictions relating to human behavior and to right and wrong which are based on multiple passages from the Bible, including passages that define marriage, cannot be called bigotry any more than a conviction that the Bible forbids theft could be called bigotry.
“Homosexuality is not singled out by biblical Christians. All sexual behavior or even contemplation of such outside of biblical marriage is viewed in the Bible as destructive and, therefore, sinful,” Patterson said.
The presidents were unanimous in their support of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Akin called it a “necessity.”
Roberts noted, “It is clear in the minds of many people in America today that they do not understand the true meaning of marriage. It should therefore be clarified once and for all in our national law.”
The statement further charged Southern Baptists to join the presidents and the Southern Baptist seminary faculties in presenting a “bold witness” to a “watching world.”
“There is always hope,” Kelley said. “Our responsibility, however, is not to stem the tide. Our responsibility is to bear faithful witness to God and His ways and never, never, never give up laboring for righteousness.”
Let No Man Put Asunder
A Resolution in Defense of Marriage
The institution of marriage is now in crisis -- and this crisis has been generations in coming. For decades, marriage has been under assault in Western societies. Citizens of the advanced industrial nations have treated marriage as a legal and social convenience, to be made and remade in every generation. Marriage has been undermined by permissive sexuality, the availability of divorce, the assumption of personal autonomy, and now, by the prospect of legalized same-sex unions.
Marriage is not a human contrivance. Indeed, it is part of God’s perfect design for his human creatures. We affirm that marriage was designed for humanity by our Creator, who gave us marriage for the rightful ordering of human sexuality and relationships. The Holy Scripture is clear and unambiguous about the nature of marriage as a permanent bond of a man and a woman before God. Furthermore, it is a covenant that unites a man and a woman in a holy union. Marriage deserves our greatest respect and stalwart defense, even as it offers priceless joys and satisfactions to those who maintain its integrity.
Marriage is not just one institution among others. It is the central institution for the ordering of humanity at the most intimate level. Without a commitment to marriage, human society is deprived of its most fundamental structure -- and social disaster will inevitably follow.
Any legal recognition of same-sex relationships -- whether known as “marriages,” “civil unions,” or any other nomenclature -- is a direct act of defiance before God, and a rejection of God’s perfect design for human sexuality, human relatedness, and the raising of children.
Therefore, the presidents and faculties of the six seminaries serving the Southern Baptist Convention hereby jointly and publicly declare our support for the institution of marriage, our opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and our determination to uphold the integrity of marriage in all we teach, profess, and declare.
Furthermore, we call on the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention—and all Christians of good will and biblical conviction—to join us in this sacred effort, and to present the watching world with a bold witness to God’s glory in marriage.
Adopted by the seminary faculties in official action, and represented in this resolution by each seminary president:
Jeff Iorg, President
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Mill Valley, California
R. Philip Roberts, President
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Kansas City, Missouri
Charles S. Kelley, Jr., President
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
New Orleans, Louisiana
Daniel L. Akin, President
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
L. Paige Patterson, President
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas