A high-profile Baptist minister in the U.K. who last week applied to issue same-sex marriage licenses has been criticized by leading American creationist Ken Ham, who called the decision a "flagrant disobedience of God's Word."
While Ham did not identify the pastor by name, Pastor Steve Chalke of Oasis Church in Waterloo, London, made news when he announced that his ministry will seek to be LGBT inclusive, and applied to issue gay marriage licenses.
Gay marriage was made legal in England, Scotland and Wales in 2013, although individual churches were left with the option to decide on their own whether they would condone same-sex marriage.
The biggest denominations, including the Church of England, along with the Roman Catholic Church and the majority of the Evangelical movement, have said they will continue to maintain the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman, though Chalke argued in an interview with Premier that such exclusion has a "deeply damaging effect on LGBT people."
"This is not because we're liberal, it's not because we're light on the Bible, it's because we take the Bible very seriously," the Baptist minister asserted.
"We want to move away from an over simplistic, over literalistic, immature understanding over biblical texts that dumps many but keeps the ones we want."
Ham responded to Chalke's claims in a Facebook post on Wednesday that Genesis 1 and 2 in the Bible show that marriage is between one man and a woman.
The Young Earth creationist, who is set to open the Ark Encounter life-sized Noah's Ark theme park in Kentucky in July, pointed to several verses to prove his point:
"Origin of marriage: 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man," Gen 2:23.
The first marriage: 'Male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply,' (Gen 1:27–28).
Jesus on marriage: 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,'" (Matthew 19:4)," Ham wrote.
He added that producing "Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15)," is one of the prime purposes of marriage, and he said that only males and females can produce children.
Ham, who often speaks out on social issues, warned back in December 2015 that pastors who fail to speak out against gay marriage are doing "great damage" to the spiritual growth of their congregations.
"We have generations of young people in our churches who simply believe what the world believes on social and moral issues (e.g., they are increasingly accepting gay 'marriage'), and they don't think biblically on these matters," Ham wrote back then.
"Pastors, teaching on controversial issues can certainly be a challenge, but I encourage you not to neglect it! You have a huge responsibility in equipping the Church to think biblically about everything — including controversial social issues. If you don't, who is going to?" he asked.