By Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Current Tennessee Baptist Convention president Michael Ellis, along with 20 former TBC presidents, have signed onto a statement first adopted by current Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and all 16 former living SBC presidents since 1980.
Soon after the marriage and religious liberty statement was released during the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, former presidents of the Florida Baptist Convention also signed on as supporters.
“We are excited to join with our counterparts in Florida in affirming the SBC presidents’ statement on marriage and religious liberty,” said Randy C. Davis, TBC executive director/treasurer, and a past TBC president.
“This kind of solidarity is very necessary and extremely encouraging,” he said.
Ellis agreed. “It is important that the world knows that our convention is united in our beliefs and in our support of biblical marriage,” he said.
The statement reads:
“As Southern Baptist Christians, we are committed to biblical faith and ethics. As a result, this body of believers stands on the authority of Scripture and God’s Truth as central to our lives.
“What the Bible says about marriage is clear, definitive, and unchanging. We affirm biblical, traditional, natural marriage as the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. The Scriptures’ teaching on marriage is not negotiable. We stake our lives upon the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
“Consequently, 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. We will not recognize same-sex ‘marriages,’ our churches will not host same-sex ceremonies, and we will not perform such ceremonies.
“While we affirm our love for all people, including those struggling with same-sex attraction, we cannot and will not affirm the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior or any behavior that deviates from God’s design for marriage. We also believe religious freedom is at stake within this critical issue — that our first duty is to love and obey God, not man.
“Therefore, we strongly encourage all Southern Baptist pastors, leaders, educators, and churches to openly reject any mandated legal definition of marriage and to use their influence to affirm God’s design for life and relationships. As the nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination with over 16 million members, we stake our very lives and future on the truth of God’s Word.
“We also join together to support those who stand for natural marriage in the corporate world, the marketplace, education, entertainment, media, and elsewhere with our prayers and influence and resources.”
Joining Ellis and Davis as signers are Larry Robertson, Dean Haun, Fred Shackelford, Poly Rouse, Danny Sinquefield, Tom McCoy, Ron Stewart, Phil Jett, Roger Freeman, Mike Boyd, Ronnie Wilburn, Kevin Shrum, Hollie Miller, Jerry Tidwell, Larry Gilmore, Ray Newcomb, Ken Story, James McCluskey, and John Laida.