Leave it to MSNBC to attempt to guilt socially conservative African-American Christians into acting against their religious convictions on same-sex marriage in the name of civil rights and "tolerance." Anchor Thomas Roberts, who is openly gay, conducted a softball interview with an African-American Baptist pastor from the Tar Heel State who opposes Amendment 1, the pro-traditional marriage ballot initiative going before North Carolina voters on May 8.
"For African-American churchgoers, this creates quite a quandary... while some religious leaders are urging their congregations to stick with tradition, some high profile ministers are speaking out against it to promote tolerance," Roberts noted in his introduction of Dr. Ricky Woods. With his first question to Woods, Roberts described the disagreement among African-American Christians as pitting those in favor of "social justice" against backers of "tradition" and "moral values" (emphasis mine):
Observers say that this issue has really created this divide among African-American believers. On one side there's this desire to see political and social justice enacted, on the other side there's a desire to keep what is perceived traditional and moral values intact. So how does that affect your role as a church leader in this debate when people are coming to you looking for guidance?
For his part, Woods answered that he was "saddened that this issue has been shaped in such a way where religion is being used to define something that should be done by the state" and added that putting the marriage amendment to a vote was a violation of the "separation of church and state."
Of course, Woods's complaint is patently illogical and nonsensical. Marriage should be defined by the state, but the people acting at the ballot box to define marriage is something an affront to the prerogative of the state? And while many voters in North Carolina are no doubt religious, how would a majority of them constitute a "church" that would imposing its will on the state?
It goes without saying that any spokesman for traditional marriage worth his salt would make such point were she or he allowed to be on opposite Woods for a rebuttal.
What's more, as a minister in the National Baptist Convention, Woods most certainly agrees with his denomination that civil government (emphases mine):
...is of divine appointment, for the interest and good order of human society; and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed; except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the Kings of the earth.
Isn't defining marriage as a man and a woman in the "interest and good order of human society"? Didn't Jesus think so?
According to the Bible, that "from the beginning" God designed it as a one man-one woman union [Matt. 19:4-5, 8; Mark 10:6-9] . In Christian thinking, marriage therefore is a "creation institution" that precedes not only church and state but the very foundation of human society.
For Baptists like Woods to act as citizens in affirming the biblical revelation of marriage's design is to act in accord with what is in the "interest and good order of human society."
In his second question, Roberts dived into the "civil rights" implications of same-sex marriage, noting that "it was a little over 40 years ago that North Carolina accepted interracial marriage."
"How do African-American church leaders reconcile that fact against history?" Roberts asked, to which Woods responded that the matter was a "justice issue" whereby "we should not be putting discrimination into our laws against any particular group."
"I believe that God has created us all as free-will agents with the right to choose, and none of us should be trying to play God in the life of someone else with the choices that they make," Woods lectured.
Of course, the text of Amendment 1 allows for the freedom of those "free-will agents." Here's what it says:
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
Again, Dr. Woods is in error. Under Amendment 1, same-sex couples can still enter legally-enforceable contracts that are patterned after marriage protections, they just cannot be granted marriage licenses.