At the start of May, Union University was graced with the presence of notable evangelical theologians who commented on the issues of homosexuality, marriage, the church, and society. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore joined the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Robert Gagnon at Union’s conference, “Salt and Light in the Public Square: Charles Colson’s Legacy and Vision.”
Russell Moore prominently serves as the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s departing dean and will soon succeed retiring Richard Land as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Commenting on the marriage debate, Moore worried, “There are many people in America—including evangelicals—who fear they will be [notorious segregationist] George Wallace, Sr., listening to their children rebuking them for a history that’s moving beyond them.” He acknowledged three common approaches to address the issue.
“Moral Majoritarianism” remains the most common approach “at the populist level.” Moore summarized the position as “We are standing with the silent majority of Americans, thus we can move this and sway this politically.” One assumes, “Most people are like us” (made more winsome by the loud yet truly small 1960s counterculture). “That kind of language is not helpful [for the marriage debate],” Moore contended, “because what a Christian view of reality from the beginning is that the state ought not to define marriage at all. The state merely recognizes something that is already existing in nature.”
Many American Christians also assume a “moral libertarian approach,” in which the church hides “in the opposite corner…Somehow we can find a way to be Christians without engaging such questions at all.” Moore reported he has talked to many young pastors of growing churches who share this sympathy. “We already tried that with the divorce culture, and how did that work out for you?” he quipped, “The state’s attitude towards divorce hasn’t only caused social harm…but also has influenced people in our religious communities to see marriage in a different way.” Moore concluded, “Evangelicals have been slow-change sexual revolutionaries…Many now wonder if they can be conscientious objectors in the marriage redefinition debate.” The SBTS dean believed the Gospel is at stake in this argument. “You are not calling sinners to repentance,” Moore warned, “When we do not speak holistically of (as the Scripture puts it) sin and righteousness and judgment, the people around us know that we are afraid.”