By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Preserving biblical marriage is important to pastors in the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, but what is even more important is preserving religious liberties.
Last year, a groundswell of pastors affiliated with the Prince George’s Baptist Association fought for biblical marriage, landing a cover story in Focus on the Family’s June/July edition of Citizen magazine.
Organizer Derek McCoy, an associate pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, developed a Maryland 4 Marriage coalition with the goal of educating voters and rallying them to oppose a bill aiming to legalize same sex marriage in Maryland and recognizing all such unions performed in other states.
Joining him were BCM/D pastors Harold Dugger of Capitol Heights (Md.) Baptist Church; Victor Kirk of Sharon Bible Fellowship in Lanham; Anthony Minter of Solid Rock Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.; and Nathaniel Thomas of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church, among many other political and Christian groups.
The coalition members prayed together. They spoke at hearings and lobbied legislators in both the Maryland Senate and House about the decay of the family structure and the biblical definition of marriage as between “one man and one woman.”
They also stressed the fact that homosexual activists refused an earlier civil unions bill that would allow for the benefits and rights for which they sought. It appeared their agenda was not the equal rights between homosexuals and heterosexuals.
They wanted the word “marriage” for themselves. This, for the pastors and other church leaders, was dangerous territory.
“When you start redefining what the Bible says marriage is, then you start the slippery slope toward other redefinitions,” said Kirk, at a Senate hearing for then-Senate Bill 116, entitled “The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act,” (https://bcmd.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Senate-Bill-116.pdf) in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
“If this bill passes, what’s next? What if a father wanted to marry his daughter? Or two brothers or two sisters want to marry? This is illegal today but under this type of legislation to say no would then be gender discrimination.”
Warning against the “slippery slope,” he added, “This can go anywhere once the line of demarcation is removed. If you think not, just look back 20 years ago. None of what is happening today would even be considered. Now think 20 years in the future if we do allow this type of marriage to be legal.”
For a time, all the efforts appeared to be in vain.
But at the last hour, in a surprising victory for those who opposed same sex marriages, Senate Bill 116 was defeated. But activists haven’t stopped.
In anticipation of Maryland’s General Assembly’s 2012 Session, which convened in early January, pastors started gathering in late November and early December to rally support for religious rights in Maryland.
Maryland Marriage Alliance leader McCoy led two press conferences in early December to show that some clergy across denominational, ethnic and religious lines are concerned their religious liberties will be taken away if Maryland passes its proposed same-sex marriage bill.
“They would like us (Christians) to get in a box and not be able to express our individual faith, not to be able to have freedom of worship, not to be able to have freedom of speech as is already guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” McCoy said.
In November, like-minded BCM/D messengers passed a resolution for the support of traditional marriage as biblically defined.
Noting that “intrusive redefinitions of issues like traditional marriage by the government have historically tended toward eventual threat of religious liberties and local church ability for self-determination, notwithstanding governmental assurances to the contrary,” the document resolved “that we restate our long standing and unfailing support for the traditional definition of marriage as an exclusive union between one man and one woman.”
Furthermore, the resolution called on the State of Maryland to support the Family Law Code as it reads in Nov. of 2011, which states, “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state” (MD Code Family Law §2-201). Learn more by visiting online at www.bcmd.org/clpa or use the QR code below.