As courts across the country strike down gay marriage bans, the Southern Baptist denomination has announced it won't change its position on same-sex marriage and transgender people.
In a speech given at the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore, MA, President Ronnie Floyd stated that although America's attitude toward gay and transgender individuals is rapidly changing, the denomination will hold fast to its belief that that gender identity cannot be different from biological sex and that homosexuality is immoral.
"We stand strong on what the Scripture says about marriage between a man and a woman. At the same time we do know that we have this issue facing our culture," Floyd said. "But due to the situation today, we must hold the word of God in one hand and the love of God in the other, and have compassion and love to bring people into the fellowship."
The resolution was passed with nearly 5,000 people attending the annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. The convention approved a resolution which will oppose the government's efforts to "validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy."
Delegates at the convention affirmed that "God's good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one's self-perception." However, they expressed compassion for those who felt gender confusion, saying that despite their sin, transgender people are "image-bearers of Almighty God" and condemned "acts of abuse or bullying committed against them."
The issue of gender identity has received significant attention in the SBC over the past year.
When Pastor Danny Cortez revealed that he "no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality," he admitted that the "new position" was indicative of a "radical shift" that put him at odds with both the position of the church and the convictions of the Southern Baptist denomination.
He acknowledged that his new position violated the SBC's confession of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message, which states that "homosexuality is immoral" and that marriage is "the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime." However, Cortez said he hoped the congregation would "allow for grace in the midst of disagreement."
The church sided with Cortez, keeping him on staff and adopting his ideologies to become a "Third Way Church."
In response, President Floyd said Wednesday that in relaxing its views on gay members, the church and its pastor had "chosen to disassociate itself with the Southern Baptist Convention" and that the denomination "does not support or condone" such action.