Explainer: Southern Baptists’ anti-gay marriage resolution


No one will ever accuse Southern Baptist leaders of subtlety. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a handful of gay marriage cases with national implications this month, so denominational leaders wanted to make clear where they stood. At their annual gathering this week, repeated calls to oppose gay marriage echoed through the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

SBC president Ronnie Floyd preached a fiery sermon declaring, "the Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority, nor is the culture itself, but the Bible is God’s final authority about marriage and on this book we stand." At a press conference on Wednesday, leaders released a letter signed by 16 past denominational presidents--including my father, James Merritt, who presided from 2000 to 2002--stating, "we will not accept, nor adhere to, any legal redefinition of marriage issued by any political or judicial body including the United States Supreme Court." And the denomination's political arm released a legal guide for churches, schools, and ministries to protect themselves as culture grows more comfortable with same-sex marriage.

But the most significant event by far was the passing of an official resolution reaffirming their support for traditional marriage and calling on the Supreme Court to "uphold the right of the people to define marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman." Conspicuously absent from the resolution was any statement of love or compassion for LGBT persons, though it did call for Southern Baptists to "love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people."

The Southern Baptist Convention is America's largest Protestant denomination, and therefore, such efforts are notable. Here are three things you need to know about their anti-gay marriage resolution: