Baptists and Gay Marriage
November 19, 2008, 7:51 am
Filed under: culture, denomination, politics

Juxtaposed on the Baptist Press website yesterday, Nov. 18, were two stories having to do with annual meetings of regional Southern Baptist denominational bodies.  One story had to do with the California Southern Baptist Convention, which adopted a resolution to “affirm and applaud California voters’ affirmation of traditional biblical marriage.”

“[T]he California Southern Baptist Convention expresses its appreciation and heartfelt gratitude to the ProtectMarriage.com coalition that spearheaded the effort to restore and protect biblical, traditional marriage in California and throughout our nation,” the resolution reads. It further states that the convention “strongly encourages its churches and their members to pray for, promote and uphold the biblical model of marriage.”

In contrast to this is a story of the Baptist General Association of Virginia’s annual meeting, at which Tony Campolo was a key speaker.  While he’s not a Southern Baptist himself, and the story mentions nothing of the response to his remarks, Campolo waded in to the gay marriage debate.

Campolo called himself “a conservative on the issue” of homosexuality, but said he opposed Proposition 8. Describing homosexual behavior “contrary to the teaching of God,” he nonetheless questioned what was gained in passing the ballot initiative.

“What did we win? … I’ll tell you what we won,” he said. “We won tens of thousands of gays and lesbians parading up and down the streets of San Francisco and New York and L.A. screaming against the church, seeing the church as enemy.

“I don’t know how we’re going to reach these brothers and sisters,” he said, “but I’m an evangelical and I’m going to win them to Christ…. And we’re not going to win them to Christ if we keep sending them bad messages, and we’ve sent them a bad message. I think the decision in California was in agreement with how I believe, but sometimes you’ve got to consider the person before you bang them over the head with your principles.”

Again, Campolo’s remarks weren’t necessarily endorsed by Virginia Baptists – in fact, I’d be surprised if he had much support in that room.

I’m not going to weigh in on this issue.  Others have been more articulate on the issue than I could be, and there’s a lot of very unhelpful rhetoric on both sides of it.  If anyone cares about pinning me down, I’ll just say that I’m inclined toward Campolo here, but I’m open to sensible, compassionate, respectful dialogue.


2 Comments so far
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I am guessing from your remark

“Again, Campolo’s remarks weren’t necessarily endorsed by Virginia Baptists – in fact, I’d be surprised if he had much support in that room.”

that you are not familiar with Virginia baptists. They are a diverse lot, very different from the typical Southern Baptist, occupying a DMZ between the denomination and the CBF, a moderate split from the main SBC.

In fact, conservative leaning SBCers in Virgina have their own state convention. You would be surprised to find that many of those in attendance would have agreed with Campolo and some would have taken it a step farther.

Comment by Rick

Thanks for the insight Rick – I appreciate it.

Actually, now that you say that, I do recall hearing that Virginia has a “split” convention, or two conventions.

Good to hear that there are some open minds . . .

Comment by steve lewis

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