During the August 2014 meeting of the Baptist Missionary Association of America’s (BMA) Coordination Council, Dr. John Adams presented a report on behalf of the Moral Action Agency. The report included a sobering description of current trends that contradict biblical teaching on marriage. The council discussed the issue and requested that the faculty of the BMA Seminary compose wording for a proposed amendment to the BMA Doctrinal Statement that articulated both scriptural teaching and the persistent belief of BMA churches regarding the institution of marriage. Following consultation with Moral Action’s executive director, the seminary faculty adjusted a prior statement, Article IIIC, and prepared a new statement, Article IIID, for the council’s consideration. Chairman Ed Stephenson presented the statements to Springhill Baptist Church, Greenbrier, Arkansas, for approval. Subsequently, Springhill Baptist Church chose to recommend that the BMA adopt the statements during its annual 2015 meeting as an amendment to the association’s Doctrinal Statement.
“Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (Matthew 19:4-5). In this passage, Jesus referred to Genesis 2:23 and quoted from Genesis 2:24. Because God created both humans and marriage, humans must recognize themselves as accountable to His intent for marriage.
Genesis 2:24-25 identifies the special and exclusive relationship of the adult human male and female, joined together as husband and wife (Gen. 2:24, 25), as the most fundamental and basic human relationship. This relationship is said to have been designed directly by God and serves as the sole basis for a distinct family unit in perpetuity (Gen. 2:24, 25; Gen. 4:1, 17) and is even intended to be interminable except under specific, extreme circumstances (Matt. 19:8). These passages declare that God’s reason for creating male and female finds its ultimate purpose in the ability of male and female to become one flesh. The concept of one flesh includes physical (i.e., sexual), spiritual, mental, and emotional components. While some may argue for the possibility of such oneness outside the bounds of the monogamous heterosexual union, such arguments simply lack legitimate support from the Bible.
A marriage is to be comprised of a biological (i.e., “natural”) man and woman. Because of the brokenness of creation as a whole, and the human race in particular, humans made in God’s image sometimes face difficult disorders of sexuality which call for great compassion and sensitivity among God’s people. First, there are some who perceive themselves to be the opposite gender in spite of their physical sexual characteristics (i.e., a biological male identifies psychologically as a woman, or vice versa). As noted in article IIIC., God has designed the human race to be male and female, and he has prohibited same-sex sexual behavior. Accordingly, Scripture does not make possible the separation of sex and gender as the transgender movement has done. One who is biologically male must strive, by God’s redeeming and sanctifying grace, to live as a man, and likewise one who is biologically female must strive to live as a woman – hence the language “a natural man and a natural woman” in the doctrinal statement proposal.
It is important to note that cases of sexual or marital union outside the bounds of a monogamous and heterosexual marriage, even if found in the Bible, simply deviate from God’s intention for marriage and should not be considered as examples for living or doctrinal truths. A great deal of thought, study, and debate has gone into the particular wording of these revisions in hopes of presenting well-articulated statements that both reflect biblical teaching and address important issues related to personhood, marriage, and sexuality.
The need for such clarification of biblical teaching, as described in the proposed amendments, comes amidst increasing political and social pressures to accept and promote ideas and actions that violate biblical truths. BMA Seminary faculty has made the entire paper available at http://bmats.edu/marriage.