It was only yesterday when I posted about Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd telling an audience that if same-sex marriage is legalized, he will refuse to perform any gay ceremonies. (Not that anyone was asking him to in the first place.) His declaration received a huge round of applause from people who appreciated his firm stand on the issue.
So I have to give credit to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler, Jr. for admitting that pastors need to stop complaining that they’ll somehow be forced to perform gay marriages against their will. It’s just not gonna happen.
Look, I really don’t fear — It’s really important that you and the other presidents and every Southern Baptist pastor, every Gospel pastor, preacher needs to say “I’m not going to perform a same-sex wedding.”
But let’s be honest: there’s not really a danger that the sheriff’s gonna show up and say, “you have to do this.” So far as I know, no pastor has been sued successfully for refusing to marry someone on other grounds — that’s not the real danger.
The real danger is we’re going to pay an enormous social, cultural price for not doing a same-sex ceremony… We’re going to be considered to be morally deficient. Let’s admit it: We’re much more accustomed to being accused of being morally superior. They’ve said we’ve been “stand-offish,” meaning better than them. Now a large part of this culture thinks we are morally deficient. And we’re going to find that’s a very different way to do ministry.
I couldn’t agree with him more.
Even if marriage equality becomes a reality, no pastor will have to approve or officiate weddings they don’t want to. They have always had that right, and it’s one that church/state separation groups actively support. (The conflict often comes up when devout Christians who work in government positions refuse to do what their job requires of them.)
And Mohler is absolutely right that any church leader who treats gay couples as if there’s something wrong with them — which Mohler approves of, make no mistake about it — will be condemned. I’ve said this before, but when you manage to fuck up the easiest moral question of our time, you lose all credibility on moral issues. Young people know this and it’s part of the reason they’re leaving organized religion in droves.
I hope gay marriage is legalized, and I hope these pastors continue to act like that’s a problem. Together, those things will help people realize that the church isn’t the place to be if you support civil rights and justice for all. In fact, depending on which church you go to, you may rightfully be accused of being morally deficient and perpetuating injustice.
As an atheist, I know what it’s like to have to defend myself on those grounds. We’ve been accused of immorality for a long time — for no good reason other than we don’t think holy books provide useful guidance on moral issues.
It’s about time the pressure’s on bigoted pastors to defend their awful ideas.
(via Jeremy Hooper)