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Christians Must Defend Traditional Marriage as a Benefit for All Society, Not Just Seek Religious Accommodation, Says Southern Evangelical Seminary Professor

Ideas Have Consequences
Program cover for the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, North Carolina, which took place October 16-17, 2015. |

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Asking for accommodations for religious freedom on marriage is not enough and is likely to fail, says Southern Evangelical Seminary professor Frank Turek.

At the Southern Evangelical Seminary's annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics, Turek hosted a panel discussion on marriage titled "What Do We Do Now?" in which he asserted that Christians and supporters of traditional marriage have to make broader arguments about its benefits to society and family.

"We can't let it all just be about religious liberty, because if we don't make the arguments that we are arguing for the good of all society and just say, 'give us our religious freedom,' they are going to say, 'just give you religious freedom to be bigots? No thank you," Turek declared.

The Saturday afternoon panel was moderated by Dr. Richard Land, president Southern Evangelical Seminary, who emphasized: "We've done a two-generation test in this country on whether or not fathers are optional accessories in the rearing of healthy adults, and the answer is: they are not.

"But up until now no one has been goofy enough to argue that mothers are an optional accessory, but that's what same-sex marriage argues. Our president has said two men can do as good of a job as a mother and father of raising a child — that's just goofy," added Land, who's also the executive editor of The Christian Post.

Richard Howe
Southern Evangelical Seminary Professor Emeritus Richard Howe speaks with attendees at the National Conference on Christian Apolgetics in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 16, 2015. |

Ryan Anderson, another panelist, urged marriage proponents to adopt tactics and strategies developed by the pro-life movement following the Roe v. Wade decision.

Anderson, who's a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington D.C. think tank, said right to life activists have argued the U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion was misleading about the grounds for support in the Constitution and plainly called it judicial activism.

Anderson argued that pro-lifers protected their liberties and freedoms in the public square and asserted that a lot of these problems have been created because the government now over-legislates everything.

"Activists secured protections for pro-life doctors and nurses at hospitals across the United States," said Anderson, who called on Christians to "bear witness to the truth about marriage."

Land confirmed Anderson's comments, noting, "The pro-life movement was less popular in public opinion after the Roe v. Wade decision than traditional views about marriage are today."

Land added that same-sex marriage is a symptom of the "disease of moral relativism."

Judge Phil Ginn, another panelist, argued that the Supreme Court will not make any changes to marriage now until the broader culture sees changes in its thinking about the subject. Ginn, who has over 20 years of experience as a trial judge in North Carolina and a judge on the 24th Judicial Circuit, said Christians have too often failed to uphold the Great Commission in this country and the culture is paying the consequences.

"I am not a prophet and never claimed to be one, but if there is not another intervention to take us back into the other direction, then I predict in the next five years this conference will be about ethics for Christians in the midst of persecution.

"I think we are in that dire of straights in this country as we sit here today," he added.

Land noted that 65 percent of Evangelical leaders recently polled by World magazine said that domestic religious freedom and persecution is the greatest threat that faces the nation today.

Michael Brown, the host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show "The Line of Fire" and president of FIRE School of Ministry, argued that the "wake up call is necessary and positive" and thinks that the "bullying of Christians will backfire."

"When you declare war on gender, you now have the ultimate fabric of society becoming meaningless, declared Brown. "At a certain point it overplays its hand."

Turek also addressed the political aspect of marriage in more depth.

"Your job is not to guarantee a political victory. Your job is to be faithful and leave the results to God," he said.

"You do what is right regardless how hopeless it looks. And if your pastor is not interested in this because he is worried about his tax-exempt status," Turek added, "remind him that he is called to be salt and light and not tax exempt."

Other panelists on the session on the future of marriage included John Stewart, international director of Ratio Christi, and Daniel Heimbach, professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The National Conference on Christian Apologetics took place at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Oct. 16-17.

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