The Alliance of Baptists
Affirms Same-Sex Marriage
by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.
April 28, 2004
of same-sex marriage have been aided in their quest to normalize
homosexuality by a constellation of liberal religious groups--including
some of the historic Christian denominations. These groups now serve
as theological enablers for the homosexual movement's rejection
of Christian morality.
The latest group to join this parade is the Alliance
of Baptists, a denomination that consists of 115 congregations,
united mainly by the fact that they are no longer part of the Southern
Baptist Convention. The Alliance was born out of the Southern Baptist
Convention's controversy of the 1980s, and it first functioned as
a protest movement against the conservative leadership of the SBC.
Since its establishment in 1987, the Alliance has gone on to establish
itself firmly on the left wing of American Protestant liberalism.
Meeting recently in Dayton, Ohio for its 2004 convocation,
the Alliance of Baptists adopted a "Statement on Same Sex Marriage,"
that demands legalization and full support for homosexual marriage
across the United States. It puts the Alliance boldly on the same-sex
The Alliance statement begins by decrying "the
politicization of same-sex marriage in the current presidential
contest and other races for public office." What can this mean?
There are no non-political approaches to this issue, for both sides
are arguing over law and public policy. Any demand that same-sex
marriage be legalized must take the form of a political argument.
The law, after all, is a political instrument. Thus, when the Alliance
of Baptists criticizes the "politicization" of the same
sex marriage debate, it insinuates that its own activity is above
politics while those who oppose same sex marriage must lower themselves
for engagement at the political level. This is not a promising start.
The statement goes on to put the group in solid
opposition to any constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage.
"We specifically reject the proposed amendments to the constitution
of the United States and state constitutions that would enshrine
discrimination against sexual minorities and define marriage in
such a way as to deny same-sex couples a legal framework in which
to provide for one another and those entrusted to their care."
The Alliance directed its most critical words at
Christian denominations that oppose same-sex marriage. "As
Christians and as Baptists, we particularly lament the denigration
of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers
in this debate by those who claim to speak for God." Placing
the group on the other end of the spectrum, the statement affirmed
that the Alliance of Baptists "supports the rights of all citizens
to full marriage equality, and we affirm anew that the Alliance
will 'create places of refuge and renewal for those ignored by the
Stan Hastey, the Alliance's Executive Director,
has written that the Alliance was birthed "in the white-heat
controversy of the fundamentalist uprising that resulted in the
capture of the Southern Baptist Convention." Originally organized
as the "Southern Baptist Alliance," the group changed
its name in 1992 to "The Alliance of Baptists." As Hastey
indicates, this was a way of "signaling formal distancing of
itself from the Southern Baptist Convention." In reality, the
group was already light years removed from the SBC on both moral
and theological issues. The name change was an honest reflection
of reality--the Alliance and the SBC stand on opposing sides of
the great theological divide.
Moving steadily leftward, the Alliance joined the
National Council of the Churches of Christ [NCC] in the year 2000,
and formed a partnership with the United Church of Christ in 2002.
In joining with the UCC, the Alliance formally attached itself to
a denomination that was already well known for its acceptance of
homosexuality. The UCC allows congregations to celebrate gay unions
and to ordain homosexual ministers. Earlier this year, the Coalition
for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Council of the
United Church of Christ, issued a statement demanding, not only
the full legalization of same-sex marriages, but the church's affirmation
that "any conversation about marriage needs to de-centralize
marriage as the only expression of covenant and commitment between
people." Just in case their point might be missed, the group
went on to insist: "Any conversation about marriage must take
seriously the reality that, given that . . . many LGBT [lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender] and heterosexual folks have made
conscious choices to covenant with one another in ways other than
marriage. And these covenants should also be honored and celebrated."
This is not only a call for the legalization of same-sex marriages,
but a virtual call for the virtual abolition of marriage itself.
The Alliance's move towards the full acceptance
of homosexuality has been apparent for some time. In 1995 the group
adopted a report on human sexuality entitled, "A Clear Voice."
The voice was indeed clear, and the point of the report was obvious--the
group was calling for the full normalization and acceptance of all
homosexual relationships. The Alliance's original covenant began
with a call for its members to claim "the freedom of the individual,
led by God's Spirit within the family of faith, to read and interpret
the Scriptures, relying on the historical understanding by the church
and on the best methods of modern biblical study." That wording
was carefully crafted to allow the group and its members to deny
the authority and truthfulness of difficult biblical texts dealing
with issues like sexuality, while claiming to be "led by God's
Spirit" and relying on historical interpretation and the "best
methods" of modern biblical scholarship.
The escape hatch in their statement was in full
operation as the 1995 report on human sexuality began by asking,
"whether the Bible actually addresses the issue of sexual orientation
as we understand it today." And, "whether there is an
unambiguous sexual norm in Scripture." By the time the group's
official report concluded, they had answered both of these questions
with a resounding, "No."
In "Discerning God's Will in Biblical Interpretation,"
an appendix attached to the report, the Alliance claimed that "Baptists
assume that moral decisions about sexual expression or any other
issue must be rooted in Scripture." Claiming to interpret the
Scripture through tradition, reason, and experience, while also
taking full account of the historical context of the biblical text,
the group claimed a right to re-interpret biblical texts that condemn
homosexuality by claiming the higher "light of the revelation
of God given in Jesus Christ." As an example of their approach
to the Bible, the group's report asserted that "interpreters
may ask whether the affirmation of heterosexual relations in the
creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2 is intended also to prohibit
all same-sex relations or whether the silence on same-sex relations
is merely a descriptive reflection of a world where heterosexual
marriage relations were so much the norm that alternatives were
not mentioned." The report went on to provide another example:
"Again, interpreters may reasonably ask whether our attitude
toward Old Testament condemnations of same-sex acts is affected
by the priority of love in Jesus' teachings and his acceptance of
women, prostitutes, tax-collectors and other theretofore considered
as second-class citizens or sinful outcasts."
In other words, this group can find an interpretive
loophole in order to get around any of the several biblical texts
that so clearly condemn homosexual activity in every form. If Genesis
2 is just a "descriptive reflection" of heterosexuality
as a norm, it tells us nothing authoritative about humanity at all.
In the end, the group's "attitude" toward the biblical
condemnation of homosexuality is mere dismissal.
Even in 1995, the issue of homosexual marriage was
on the horizon. The group affirmed, "That genital sex, for
both heterosexual and same-sex oriented persons, is most responsibly
expressed when it occurs in the context of caring, loving, committed,
covenant relationships between monogamous adults." Furthermore,
the Alliance invited its member congregations "to lift up the
ideal of covenant--that is challenging persons, whether heterosexual
or same-sex oriented, to express sexual intimacy within the covenant
context of a committed, monogamous relationship. One example of
that support could be a ritual, a covenant-making between the couple,
the couple and God, and the couple and the Christian community."
In the end, the Alliance of Baptist's statement
endorsing same-sex marriage comes as no surprise. This is the logical
extension of the group's denial of biblical inerrancy and its subversion
of biblical authority. Nevertheless, the Alliance of Baptists should
be recognized for its candor and honesty on this issue, for many
other denominations and religious bodies are doing their best to
hide their real convictions on the question. Virtually all of the
mainline Protestant denominations have been engaged in a debate
over the issue of homosexuality that has lasted at least three decades.
In most of these churches, the liberal leadership wants to affirm
homosexuality and same-sex marriage while more conservative members
at the grassroots resist--and they are the ones paying the bills.
There is no refuge on the issue of same-sex marriage,
however. The questions will eventually be answered. Churches will
either endorse same-sex marriage, or they will not. Congregations
will perform same-sex marriages, or they will not. Denominations
and religious institutions will recognize same-sex partnerships,
or they will not. There is no middle ground, no place of compromise,
and eventually no place to hide.