Day one of a three-day conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission discussing how Christians should react to the ongoing battle between those framing the homosexual lifestyle debate as a civil rights issue and those supporting what they believe to be biblical moral values, including traditional marriage, featured plenty of fireworks — most happening online through social media.
More than 1,200 are attending the ERLC conference which began on Monday. The conference, themed "The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage" is taking place in Nashville and offered by live stream over the Internet.
"Gotta be careful of making idols out of marriage and procreation when Scripture / Christ do not do so. #ERLC2014," tweeted Rachel Held Evans, author of Faith Unraveled. Evans was one of several Twitter users dishing up a steady volley of criticism over the ERLC conference.
However, Dr. Richard Land, former president of ERLC, observed that the conference is primarily serving a Southern Baptist audience concerned about its response to the political climate regarding gay issues, including the growing acceptance of gay marriage.
"First of all, the gay community is never going to find the Evangelical response satisfactory because we're not going to accept their behavior," Land told The Christian Post. "But I think the first day of the conference did a good job of putting this in the context that same-sex attraction and behavior is but one of many aspects of the fall [of mankind]."
Land, who is the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the executive editor of CP, went on to explain, "All sexual behavior that is outside of heterosexual marriage is a manifestation of the fall, and the fact that we are fallen creatures and this is the way fallen creatures behave. This is what God sent Christ to redeem us from — [as shown] from Genesis 3:15 forward.
"We are not singling out same-sex attraction. It was very clear in the conference on the first day, that this is one of the manifestations of the fall along with adultery, living together without matrimony, pornography, etc., etc., all of it."
Zack Ford, editor of Think Progress' LGBT section, who attended the event, was tweeting at a steady clip from the gay perspective.
"Ironic that @EricTeetsel and panel are ENCOURAGING marriage when we gays WANT to marry, but they oppose that. #ERLC2014," tweeted Ford.
Land said the Christian community is concerned about "the rapidity with which Christians have been engulfed by this tidal wave of same-sex marriage imposed by the courts, and they are looking for answers as to how they can respond in a biblical and Christian way that is faithful to the Gospel. Clearly this conference has touched a nerve and has met a need within the Body."
When asked by CP about the argument made by some people critical of the conference, including Evans, saying that it was not inclusive of gays in participation, Land answered, "As long as you have Scripture, you have all the resources you need. I would suspect that most of the people at the conference and most who planned it would be upset if Rachel Held Evans was pleased. If she were pleased with the conference most of the people there would be unhappy."