Russell Moore called on Christians to never compromise the truth even in the midst of intense societal pressure, at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.
Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, stated Wednesday that the ERLC publicly dissented from the Supreme Court's ruling redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.
The "state did not define the family, it didn't create the family and it can't recreate the family in its own image," and therefore we will not back down from the message of marriage that Jesus passed down to us, he said.
While firm in their objections to the ruling, Moore added: "We are not the people who are wringing our hands in panic. The Supreme Court can do a lot of things but one of the things that the Supreme Court cannot do is get Jesus back into a grave in Jerusalem."
In an address lasting approximately 20 minutes, he exhorted the attendees to be fearless in a rapidly changing culture as new challenges appear on the political landscape, urging them to remain faithful to Christ and the gospel in all spheres of life.
Moore spoke about several issues from this past year and how the ERLC has been responding to them. He stressed that the Commission is forging partnerships with organizations to promote a gospel-centered witness that honors God.
Among the topics he addressed were the plight of the unborn and foster children, Syrian refugees, the scandals surrounding Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts, and racial prejudice and reconciliation.
Moore began his remarks by citing a psychologist's research study where the majority of interviewees said that if they could have one superpower it would be the ability to become invisible, because such power afforded them the chance to do all kinds of bad things. This troubled him as a Christian since believers are not only conscious of their own sinful hearts and the sinfulness of humanity, but that invisibility itself is dangerous.
On that note Moore segued into a brief scriptural meditation on the rich man and Lazarus as it appears in Luke 16:19-31, noting that the Bible's account is told from Lazarus' viewpoint and not the unnamed rich man and his resources, associations, and accomplishments. Lazarus was invisible to the rich man; the rich man believed he was invisible. The rich man thought no one was watching as he ignored the poor and vulnerable people around him.
The question Christians must ask, Moore intoned, is: "Who are the people we wish to keep invisible?"
"Our culture believes that life is only worth living when it comes with a perceived usefulness. We as the people of Jesus Christ disagree. We believe that life, every human life, bears the dignity rooted in the image of God," Moore said.
On a practical level that means partnering with local ministries, Moore continued. As part of the ERLC's Psalm 139 Project, the Commission is joining up with ministries like Thrive St. Louis, a local group that helps women facing a crisis pregnancy at four locations across the city. The initiative was able to raise funds to supply the ministry with a new hi-tech van equipped with an ultrasound machine to help save unborn lives.
Following Moore's address the moderator opened the floor for a short Q&A session where a Southern Baptist pastor from Arkansas asked Moore why he defended the rights of Muslims to build mosques in the United States in light of the violence in the name of Islam that have been perpetrated against Americans and Christians around the world.
"Do you actually believe that if Jesus Christ were here today that he would support this and that he would stand up and say, 'Well, let us protect the rights of those Baal worshipers to erect temples to Baal?" the pastor asked.
Moore replied that what it means to be a Baptist is that one supports such freedoms for everyone.
"When you have a government that says that we can decide whether or not a house of worship can be constructed based upon the theological beliefs of that house of worship, then there are going to be Southern Baptist churches in San Francisco and New York and throughout this country that are not going to be able to build."
Moreover, Moore continued, Christians are called to the gospel, and "a government that has the power to outlaw people from assembling and saying what they believe, that does not turn people into Christians, that turns people into pretend-Christians and it sends them straight to hell. The answer to Islam is not government power, the answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the new birth that comes from that."
The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention took place earlier this week in St. Louis.