Current SBC President Ronnie Floyd and 16 past presidents released a joint statement June 17 at the Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio, stating their commitment to the biblical definition of marriage.
The presidents—all current or retired pastors—stated, “We stake our lives upon the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
The statement also included a notice to the country and the sitting Supreme Court justices that they “will not recognize same-sex ‘marriages,’ our churches will not host same-sex ceremonies, and we will not perform such ceremonies.”
Later this month, the Supreme Court will release its decision on a case which could potentially make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
At the press conference, James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., paraphrased the words of Martin Luther: “Here we stand, and we can do no other. God help us.”
The presidents also stressed the need for churches to be prepared by having clear bylaws and constitutions that say what it means to be married in their churches.
Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, urged Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries to do the same. He said he could see a time forthcoming where accrediting bodies may not provide accreditation to Christian educational institutions that do not approve of same-sex marriage or transgenderism.
What he said concerns him most are the medium and small churches “that have never thought through their bylaws and constitutions. Challenges will probably come to those small churches that are ill-prepared.”
Floyd said the issue is a matter of preparation and encouragement. “It’s not about anything more than helping our churches and being clear and compassionate.”
They also offered encouragement to church members whose religious liberties are threatened in the workplace to prepare and stand firm. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, said, “We want to challenge pastors and church members. This is coming and it’s coming now. The trajectory is on breakneck speed…We encourage Christian leaders everywhere to make some noise and to be a voice.”
Floyd encouraged Christians who face hostility for their biblical views on same-sex marriage and other such issues. “I think we engage by showing compassion…it’s about love and truth. You can’t preach the gospel without preaching the grace of God and the love of God.
The press conference ended with a word from Floyd reaffirming the stance of the Convention. “The Southern Baptist Convention has not moved, the culture has moved. We stand on the Word of God that abides forever, always, has been, and will forever be.”
The press statement was signed by every living past president of the SBC. Nine total presidents were attended the press conference.