FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Terry Turner, president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), endorsed a petition that defends the biblical definition of marriage and rejected the notion that homosexuality is a civil rights issue during a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 5.
Turner, the pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, is the first African-American president of the state convention.
"I saw what my ancestors went through, how they fought against the Jim Crow laws because of the color of their skin," Turner said. "I saw how they fought to become citizens as black Americans through the civil rights movement. And it was about the color of the skin. It was about the way a person was really born. But I have got news for you today. God made us all male or female, regardless of the color of our skin. And when homosexuals try to jump on the civil rights movement, they are missing it. And it just burns me up, because sexual preference has never been a civil rights issue."
Turner challenged students and faculty to sign the petition -- promoted by the SBTC -- which will be presented to President Obama. The petition affirms the biblical definition of marriage and asks Obama to reconsider his support of gay marriage. (Read it online at http://www.sbtexas.com/marriagepetition.)
"God has given us the definition and the design of what it means to have a traditional marriage," Turner said in a message from Genesis 2:21-25. "He has already defined marriage for us. It does not need to be defined anymore. Once God has defined marriage, it is final."
Christ defined marriage in Matthew 19, Turner said. He asked Southwestern Seminary faculty, staff and students to support marriage petition, which was approved by the executive board of the SBTC in August. The resolution affirms that "the marriage covenant, defined as being between a man and a woman, was created and ordained of God." It also defends the "right of individuals and corporations to express opinions that represent their convictions" and calls President Obama to "reconsider his unprecedented endorsement of same sex marriage and instead maintain his former support for traditional marriage."
"There is a battle for traditional marriage, and I'm in it," Turner said, calling his audience to repeat this phrase.
"Christians must make a stand," he added. "Christians have got to make a decision. ... As Christians, we have to learn to take a stand somewhere. And I am a firm believer that this is one spot where we have got to make a stand, because God is not pleased with the change of defining what marriage should be."
Benjamin Hawkins is senior news writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews). Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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