N.C. Baptists rally to fight for marriage amendment
    April 10 2012 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

    (EDITOR’S NOTE – This article has been updated since being posted online March 29.)

    North Carolina Baptists continue to rally together across the state to learn more about how they can help support a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that, if passed, would define marriage as being only between a man and a woman. 
    Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest hosted a Marriage Amendment Forum March 28 in Binkley Chapel.
    A few days later First Baptist Church of Charlotte hosted the Concerned Women for America’s “Stand Strong Together” conference. Other similar events continue to be held around the state.
    The events focus on educating the public about the amendment and encouraging them to show up at the polls May 8 and vote. Speakers at these events contend that the eyes of the nation will be on North Carolina – the first state among others to vote on the marriage issue this year. It’s the North Carolina vote that some contend will set the tone in deciding the fate of this issue in the United States – especially when it eventually goes before the Supreme Court.

    BR photo by Shawn Hendricks

    Mark Harris, president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, is interviewed March 28 by a television news crew after the Marriage Amendment Forum at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.

    “If the people speak in North Carolina, and in the other states, and affirm marriage being between a man and a woman, I believe that it will tip the balance of the Supreme Court to reject trying to foist by judicial imperialism same-sex marriage on a populace that is clearly opposed to it,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “If we lose, they will exercise their judicial imperialism. That’s what’s at stake.”
    Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and president of the state’s Baptist convention, spoke during the Stand Strong Together Conference at his church and moderated during the Marriage Amendment Forum. The state, he said, has an opportunity this spring that they may never get back.
    “This time it is a little different,” said Harris, noting that unlike Roe v. Wade – where the issue was decided by the Supreme Court – North Carolina still has an opportunity to vote on the issue.
    “Thank God that He raised up in our state legislature a majority that would put it on the ballot … for the citizens of this state to go to the polls and determine the answer to how marriage will be defined.”
    Gay marriage impact
    The issue is about religious freedom, said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, an organization that focuses on promoting faith, family and freedom.
    “What people don’t realize is that gay marriage means the beginning of the end of religious freedom,” she said. “When marriage is redefined in a state to become generalist, there are legal consequences for anyone who disagrees with it.
    “What happens is there is a sea change of law … everything from property rights, to inheritance laws have to be changed because the assumption that there underlies them is that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
    Many Christian ministries in some states – where gay marriage is legal – are already feeling the impact.
    In New Jersey, a Methodist church camp had to close after a lesbian couple sued the camp because they were not allowed to marry on the grounds. The couple won their case, which forced the camp to choose their religious convictions over continuing to operate and allow same-sex marriage ceremonies.
    “The court said the constitution allows some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals,” Fitzgerald said.
    Some Catholic charities have also chosen to close their doors because they refused to allow gay couples to adopt children from their organization.
    Many opponents of the marriage amendment claim it will deny homosexuals equal rights. Tim Wilkins, executive director of Cross Ministry in Wake Forest, argued during the forum that homosexual relationships are already “unequal.”
    “Homosexuality is commonly a cry of diversity, yet a same-sex marriage or relationship is characterized by sameness, not diversity,” said Wilkins, who lived a gay lifestyle for more than 10 years before beginning a ministry that helps people escape homosexuality.
    “Regarding the question of homosexuality and race, same-sex attraction, biblically defined, is not an orientation matter but a temptation matter,” he said.
    “Of the millions of temptations we face everyday, where does scripture elevate this particular temptation to a high status? Our orientation as humanity is toward sin.”
    Unless marriage is redefined “radically,” said Southeastern Seminary professor Daniel Heimbach, “gay relationships are not in the same relational categories as the sort of relationships with which marriage laws are concerned. That is why this amendment has nothing to do with equality.” 
    “Legalizing same-sex marriage will radically change marriage in a way that denies all fixed structures and deinstitutionalizing marriage as a social institution, thus harming everyone by threatening social stability and intergenerational survival.”
    Many who oppose the amendment argue the amendment will take health care away from children, prevent private companies from offering domestic partner benefits or weaken domestic violence laws. Many of these claims, the panel at the Southeastern forum said, are blatantly false. To read more about these arguments check out a guest column written by N.C. House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam, one of the panelists at the forum. The column was published in the March 17 issue of the Recorder. Or, read the story online through keyword search at brnow.org. The column is entitled “What will the marriage amendment do?”
    Fitzgerald later referenced a political ad that features Clay Aiken, a former American Idol contestant, who opposes the amendment.
    “He’s in front of a playground, and he says if Amendment One passes, … some of these children behind [him] will lose their healthcare benefits,” Fitzgerald said.
    “He never once mentions the word ‘marriage’ … ‘heterosexual’ or ‘homosexual family.’ They are deliberately calling it ‘Amendment One’ to divorce it from marriage so that the average person out in the public won’t know this amendment is about marriage. The amendment is about protecting marriage.”
    Until Christians take a stand, the issue will never go away, said Kenyn Cureton, vice president for church ministries at the Family Research Council.
    “What you need to know is that proponents of same-sex marriage are well organized, well funded, and they are relentless,” he said. “They will not stop until we rise up, speak the truth in love, and stop them – and do it together.”
    He challenged pastors and church leaders who are for the amendment to work together, to stay focused through prayer, and to preach on what the Bible has to say about this issue. “Don’t ever think that your influence is insignificant,” he said. “You as pastors, as ministers of the gospel, can make a positive difference … being the salt and the light here in North Carolina.”
    For more information on this issue, related guest columns and stories, go to brnow.org or access the Recorder’s Marriage Amendment page under the “Resources” tab at brnow.org/marriage.
    4/10/2012 2:26:56 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Law, Marriage, N.C.

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