Rick Warren, Russell Moore Tell Pope Francis at Vatican: 'Church Must Not Cave In' on Gay Marriage

Nov 19, 2014 12:48 PM EST

Pope Francis & Rick Warren
Saddleback megachurch pastor Rick Warren meets Pope Francis at the 2014 Vatican Conference on Marriage and The Family. Braven Carver/SBC

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and megachurch pastor Rick Warren denounced the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday and encouraged Christians to not waver on the Biblical truth about sexuality and marriage.

"Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition, and abortion rights as parts of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems," said Moore, who is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission during the "Complementarity of Man and Woman" colloquium led by Pope Francis.

"The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy," he continued. "The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure ... We see the wreckage of sexuality as self-expression all around us, and we will see more yet. And the stakes are not merely social or cultural but profoundly spiritual."

He also added that culture is aware that sex is "more than merely the firing of nerve endings" and that there is "something mysterious here, the joining of selves."

"In the evangelical Christian perspective, this is because there is no such thing as a casual sexual encounter at all, when we are speaking in spiritual terms," he said.

Meanwhile, pastor Rick Warren of California's Saddleback Church said marriage is being "ridiculed, resented, rejected and even redefined" and it is time for the church to be a "proponent of what's right."

"The church cannot cower in silence," Warren told the conference. "There is too much at stake!"

Warren said churches should celebrate successful marriages during services, schedule annual reviews of wedding vows, offer marriage courses and promote marriage via the media.

"The church cannot be salt and light in a crumbling culture if it caves in to the sexual revolution," he said.

"No other relationship, including the parent-child relationship, can picture this intimate union. To redefine marriage would destroy the picture that God intends for marriage to portray. We cannot cave on this issue."

Pope Francis also reinforced that marriage is by definition a union of man and woman, refuting past claims by some that the Church was prepared to embrace a more liberal approach to marriage and divorce.

"Marriage and the family are in crisis," stated the pontiff.

"It is fitting that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the complementarity of man and woman. This complementarity is at the root of marriage and family, which is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others' gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of living together."

Hosted by Church officials, the Humanum conference is titled 'An International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman'. It has welcomed around 30 speakers from 23 countries, and ends today.