Apparently June 4 has been declared “Marriage Protection Sunday.” (“Justice Sunday” was apparently already taken.) The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is urging SBC churches to set aside this particular Sunday, which falls on the eve of a vote in the Senate on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, to advocate against gay marriage.
From Baptist Press: “Supporters of traditional marriage need to bombard their senators’ offices with e-mails and phone calls,” ERLC President Richard Land told Baptist Press, “and preachers across America need to let the pulpit ring forth in clear and no uncertain terms on Marriage Protection Sunday, June 4, and help create a groundswell of support for this amendment. I can assure you the opponents of traditional marriage are doing their best to let their voices be heard in the corridors of the Senate. It is up to us to let our voices be heard loudly as well.”
Look, I want to be clear upfront in stating that I believe in the biblical view of marriage – one man, one woman, one covenant for a lifetime. But I am uncomfortable with calls to take a church worship gathering and turn it into an opportunity to advocate for political action of any kind. When God’s people gather to worship Him, a key component of that worship gathering is the preaching of God’s Word. I think it is unhealthy at best to suggest that preachers use that time to advocate a politcial agenda, however sympathetic I may be to the goal.
Mixing politics and worship is unhealthy business, and may even border on syncretism. The ERLC’s call for “Marriage Protection Sunday” is further evidence of an unfortunate obsession with politics that has come to characterize much of evangelicalism. Too often we tend to think, whether implicitly or explicitly, that the key to cultural transformation is to be found in political action and influence. So we focus on judicial appointments and constitutional amendments. And sometimes we reorient a service or worship and turn it into a political rally.
But is that really what the Church is called to do? Or is it a big distraction?