The president of the Southern Baptist Convention has a message regarding the looming Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage: We will not obey.
"The Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority nor is the culture itself," declared Ronnie Floyd, the elected leader of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. "The Bible is God's final authority about marriage and on this book we stand."
Dr. Floyd's powerful and provocative comments were met with thunderous applause and standing ovations from thousands of Southern Baptist messengers meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
"While some evangelicals may be bowing down to the deception of the inclusiveness of same-sex marriage, we will not bow down nor will we be silent," Floyd declared in a fiery speech on Tuesday. "We do not need to redefine what God Himself has defined already."
And from there Dr. Floyd went where few prominent pastors have gone before—a Supreme Court showdown.
"America—we stand believing that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime," he said in a thundering speech. "We have believed this and do believe this and will continue to believe this as a convention of churches. We stand for biblical and traditional marriage."
Dr. Floyd reminded the gathering of something German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."
"This is a Bonhoeffer moment for every pastor in the United States," Floyd said, warning ministers that the time has come for every minister to stand strongly and clearly—regardless of the cost.
"That's what Bonhoeffer did," he said.
The pending decision over gay marriage weighed heavily on the minds of many Southern Baptists and messengers will consider a resolution calling on all Christians to stand firm on the biblical definition of marriage.
"Resolved, that Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God's definition of marriage; and be it further resolved no matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage," the resolution reads in part.
Evangelical Christians across America fear a decision legalizing same-sex marriage would have a devastating impact on religious liberty.
A growing number of Christians have already faced persecution because of their objections to gay marriage. Public workers have lost their jobs, private business owners have been slapped with lawsuits and complaints and private citizens have been bullied and harassed for signing pro-traditional marriage petitions.
It's not exactly clear how the Southern Baptist Convention's defiance will manifest itself—but Floyd revealed his personal plan.
"I declare to everyone today as a minister of the gospel—I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies," he said. "I completely refuse."
Dr. Floyd stood resolute—the face of what I am sure will be national attacks from intolerant bullies and the radical speech police. There is no doubt he will be called a homophobic bigot. I'm sure some will label his remarks as hate speech.
I urge you to ignore them and truly listen to this brave man of God's words—his call to "love and respect those who do not agree with us."
"And while we affirm our love for all people, including those struggling with same-sex attraction, we cannot and will not affirm any behavior that deviates from God's design for marriage," he said.
The issue facing Southern Baptists is one that will face every person of faith in the United States—do you follow God or the government?
"Our first commitment is to God and His Word—nothing else and no one else," Dr. Floyd said matter-of-factly.
Amen, sir. Amen.
Todd Starnes is host of "Fox News & Commentary," heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America.
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