Russell D. Moore has responded to the accusation that he and other conservative Christians are hypocrites if they suggest that some persons' consciences won't allow them to use their creative gifts to help celebrate same-sex weddings.
In his Sunday article – "On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?" – Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, defended his view that Christian professionals may deny their services to help celebrate same-sex weddings due to their conscientious objections.
He was writing in response to an article by Kirsten Powers and Jonathan Merritt in The Daily Beast on Sunday.
"If you refuse to photograph one unbiblical wedding, you should refuse to photograph them all. If not, you'll be seen as a hypocrite and as a known Christian, heap shame on the Gospel," the authors charged. "As all Christians know, Jesus saved his harshest words for the hypocritical behavior of religious people. So, if Christian wedding vendors want to live by a law the Bible does not prescribe, they must at least be consistent.
"Before agreeing to provide a good or service for a wedding, Christian vendors must verify that both future spouses have had genuine conversion experiences and are 'equally yoked' (2 Corinthians 6:14) or they will be complicit with joining righteousness with unrighteousness. They must confirm that neither spouse has been unbiblically divorced (Matthew 19)."
Powers and Merritt were referring to Moore's earlier column for The Gospel Coalition, in which he gave advice to a conflicted photographer. Moore had advised that the self-identified evangelical Christian politely decline to film a same-sex wedding but for all other weddings, the photographer "need not investigate … whether the wedding you are photographing is Christ-honoring."
In his latest piece, Moore responded by pointing out that the two authors did not quote the next sentence, which read, "But when there is an obvious deviation from the biblical reality, sacrifice the business for the conscience, your own and those of the ones in your orbit who would be confused."
Moore explained that the photographer would generally have no ability or authority to find out the sorts of things a pastor or church elders would about a marrying couple. "Unless the photographer has a reason to think this (that the wedding is unbiblical), he needn't hire a private investigator or ask for birth certificates and court papers to make sure it's not."
The case of a same-sex marriage is "obviously wrong, in every case," Moore stressed. "There are no circumstances in which a man and a man or a woman and a woman can be morally involved in a sexual union (I have no reason to assume that Powers and Merritt disagree with apostolic Christianity on this point. If so, they should make that clear)."
Moore wrote that it's fine for the Daily Beast to ridicule the sexual ethic of the historic Christian church, represented confessionally across the divide of Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. But "it's quite another thing for the state to coerce persons through fines and penalties and licenses to use their creative gifts to support weddings they believe to be sinful."
"This article (in The Daily Beast) maintains that there are no circumstances in which the Bible 'calls Christians to deny services to people who are engaging in behavior they believe violates the teachings of Christianity regarding marriage.' Really? Does that apply only to the morality of marriage? Should a Christian (or Muslim or Orthodox Jewish or feminist New Age) web designer be compelled to develop a site platform for a legal pornography company?" Moore asked.
It's debatable how consciences can be protected by law and in the courts, he noted, "but acting as though those concerned about such things are the reincarnation of Jim Crow is unworthy of this discussion."