Southern Baptists Pass Resolutions Condemning Racism and Abuse, and Affirming the Dignity and Worth of Women and Immigrants

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Jason Duesing, chairman of the Resolutions Committee and Sing Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations, address the media in a press conference June 12. (Photo by Matt Miller, Baptist Press)
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Jason Duesing, chairman of the Resolutions Committee and Sing Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations, address the media in a press conference June 12. (Photo by Matt Miller, Baptist Press)

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention voted en masse to pass resolutions affirming the dignity and worth of women, condemning abuse, condemning racism, and affirming the value and dignity of immigrants.

In their first resolution, “Southern Baptists called on women to serve in diverse capacities to advance the gospel in their homes, local churches, communities, the marketplace, and within our denomination.” The convention “affirm[ed] the gifts of women in their distinctive God-assigned roles, even as we continue to witness to Scripture’s teaching in a culture increasingly confused in matters of gender and sexuality.”

The resolution on abuse condemned “all forms of abuse,” including “spousal abuse,” and “strongly urge[d] abuse victims to contact civil authorities.” The denomination also ‘apologized and asked forgiveness for failures to protect the abused’ and called on “pastors and ministry leaders to foster safe environments in which abused persons may both recognize the reprehensible nature of their abuse and reveal such abuse to pastors and ministry leaders.”

The resolution on racism renounced the doctrine of the “curse of Ham.” Messengers resolved to “not be satisfied in our hearts with embracing any doctrinal belief that contradicts human dignity expressed in the creation account and beg the Almighty to purge all remaining dross of this false teaching from our hearts to the glory of God.” They also promised to “remain vigilant to bring about the healing and restoration of individuals affected by this sort of doctrine.”

The resolution on immigration noted that there have been “seven years of continued policy gridlock” since Southern Baptists’ 2011 resolution on immigration. “There have been no substantive changes in the immigration system that would make it more just, humane, efficient, and orderly.” The denomination “desire[s] to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”

Below is the full text of all four resolutions.

–Joshua James


RESOLUTION 1 – ON THE DIGNITY AND WORTH OF WOMEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF WOMEN AS MESSENGERS TO THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

WHEREAS, The Bible presents the Lord God as creating both the man and the woman by His own hand and in His own image and likeness, crowning them with essential and inestimable dignity and worth (Genesis 1:26–27; 2:7, 21–22; 1 Peter 3:7); and

WHEREAS, The Bible consistently demonstrates that women played a significant role in ministry, evangelism, and disciple-making (Mark 16:1–8; Luke 2:36–38; 8:2–3; 24:10; John 4:39; 11:20–27; 20:18; Acts 1:14; 16:40; 18:24–26; Romans 16:1–2; 2 Timothy 1:5); and

WHEREAS, God calls and gifts women for a variety of roles within the biblical framework of complementary gender relationships; and

WHEREAS, Women were valued servants of the early church, many martyrs in the post-apostolic era, and heroic missionaries of the historic Baptist movement, such as Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong; and

WHEREAS, Women have served in a variety of ways throughout the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, including elected offices, service on committees and boards, missions education, ministry through entities and agencies, and positions in higher education, as well as within local churches; and

WHEREAS, Women continue currently to serve in a wide range of ministry roles within Southern Baptist life; and

WHEREAS, May 15, 2018, marked the one hundredth anniversary of women serving as messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12–13, 2018, honor the immeasurable contribution of women to our cooperative mission of Great Commission work; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we thank God for women who have contributed in biblically appropriate ways through discipleship, missions, education, evangelism, service, leadership, and working for advocacy and justice; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm the gifts of women in their distinctive God-assigned roles, even as we continue to witness to Scripture’s teaching (Genesis 2:18, 21–24; Ephesians 5:22–33; Colossians 3:18–19; 1 Timothy 2:9–14; Titus 2:3–5; 1 Peter 3:1–7) in a culture increasingly confused in matters of gender and sexuality; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call upon women to serve in diverse capacities to advance the gospel in their homes, local churches, communities, the marketplace, and within our denomination; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call upon older women to invest in younger women for the sake of developing them into godly followers of Christ consistent with Paul’s admonition in Titus 2:3–5; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we call upon all Southern Baptists to encourage, cultivate, and celebrate the diverse gifts, callings, and contributions of women in biblically appropriate ways.


RESOLUTION 2 – ON ABUSE

WHEREAS, God has created every person—male and female—in His own image and with equal value and dignity (Genesis 1:26–27); and

WHEREAS, God abhors violence against the weak and defenseless and calls His people to defend the hurt and oppressed (Psalm 82:4), to stand for justice (Psalm 82:3; Proverbs 31:8–9), and to deliver victims of abuse from the hands of their oppressors (Proverbs 6:17; 24:10–12); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message says that “We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick” (Article XV); and

WHEREAS, Abuse can be defined as any act or conscious failure to act resulting in imminent risk, serious injury, death, physical or emotional or sexual harm, or exploitation of another person; and

WHEREAS, Current cultural trends have opened the door for victims to voice courageously their plight and seek justice; and

WHEREAS, We deplore, apologize, and ask forgiveness for failures to protect the abused, failures that have occurred in evangelical churches and ministries, including such failures within our own denomination; and

WHEREAS, God has designed marriage “to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship” (The Baptist Faith and Message, Article XVIII); and

WHEREAS, Biblical headship blesses, honors, and protects wives and children and does not require them to submit to sin or to abuse (Ephesians 5:25–29; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:7; 5:3); and

WHEREAS, The biblical teaching on relationships between men and women neither supports nor fosters, but rather prevents and condemns, abuse (Mark 12:31; Romans 13:10; Ephesians 4:32); and

WHEREAS, God ordains civil government as His servant to us for good (Romans 13:4) and intends for us “to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God” (The Baptist Faith and Message, Article XVII); and

WHEREAS, Abuse is not only a sin but is also a destructive evil that distorts and disrupts the marriage covenant and the entire family and is a hallmark of the devil which must not be tolerated in the Christian community; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12–13, 2018, condemn all forms of abuse and repudiate with a unified voice all abusive behavior as unquestionably sinful and under the just condemnation of our Holy God; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that spousal abuse dishonors the marriage covenant and fundamentally blasphemes the relationship between Christ and the church; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we strongly urge abuse victims to contact civil authorities, separate from their abusers, and seek protection, care, and support from fellow Christians and civil authorities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we extend compassion and support to all persons encountering the injustice of abuse, being careful to remind the abused that such injustice is undeserved and not a result of personal guilt or fault; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on all persons perpetrating and enabling abuse to repent and to confess their sin to Jesus Christ and to church authorities and to confess their crimes to civil authorities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we implore all persons to act decisively on matters of abuse, to intervene on behalf of the abused, to ensure their safety, to report allegations of abuse to civil authorities according to the laws of their state, and to pursue church discipline against impenitent abusers; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage leaders in our churches and Southern Baptist Convention entities to be faithful examples, through their words and actions, and to speak against the sin of all forms of abuse; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on pastors and ministry leaders to foster safe environments in which abused persons may both recognize the reprehensible nature of their abuse and reveal such abuse to pastors and ministry leaders in safety and expectation of being believed and protected; and be it further

RESOLVED, That church and ministry leaders have an obligation to implement policies and practices that protect against and confront any form of abuse; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we uphold the dignity of all human beings as image-bearers of God and the responsibility of all Christians to seek the welfare of the abused.


RESOLUTION 4 – ON RENOUNCING THE DOCTRINE OF THE “CURSE OF HAM” AS A JUSTIFICATION FOR RACISM

WHEREAS, Many churches in the Southern Baptist Convention once openly endorsed the false teaching of the so-called “curse of Ham” narrative which errantly construed Genesis 9:25–27 to say that God ordained the descendants of Ham to be marked with dark skin and be relegated to a subordinated status based on race; and

WHEREAS, This doctrine has been used to enslave and continues to be used by white supremacists as a cloak to invoke God’s holy name in unholy acts of demeaning, dishonoring, and dehumanizing certain people who bear His image; and

WHEREAS, The residue of this doctrine remains today and continues to distort the witness of the church and presents a stumbling block to the gospel we preach; and

WHEREAS, This argument for justifying racist ideologies contradicts the rest of Scripture, especially those passages that teach the image of God in every person regardless of gender or ethnicity (Genesis 1:26–27; Acts 17:26), the unity of people purchased by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:11–22), and the certainty that Jesus’ bride is a multi-ethnic people (Revelation 7:9); and

WHEREAS, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that occurred on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, affording individuals across the nation an opportunity for reflection, repentance, and renewed resolve toward racial unity; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12–13, 2018, maintain and renew our public renunciation of racism in all its forms, including our disavowal of the “curse of Ham” doctrine and any other attempt to distort or misappropriate the Bible to justify this evil; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we not be satisfied in our hearts with embracing any doctrinal belief that contradicts human dignity expressed in the creation account and beg the Almighty to purge all remaining dross of this false teaching from our hearts to the glory of God; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we remain vigilant to bring about the healing and restoration of individuals affected by this sort of doctrine, not allowing any future version of this wicked teaching to creep into our hearts or our pulpits (Matthew 7:15; 2 Peter 2:1); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we renew our commitment to proclaim boldly the gospel of Jesus Christ to people from every tribe, tongue, and nation regardless of skin color or genealogical descent (Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage Southern Baptists at every level to withdraw fellowship from churches that insist on excluding from fellowship anyone based on race or ethnicity; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we renew our commitment to preach and teach the full equality, dignity, and worth of all people from the Scriptures as it would be appropriate to do so; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we renew our commitment to cultivate diligently heartfelt love for people of all tribes, ethnicities, and peoples for the good of the church and the glory of Jesus among the nations (Ephesians 4:3–6).


RESOLUTION 5 – ON IMMIGRATION

WHEREAS, Every man, woman, and child from every language, race, and nation is a special creation of God, made in His own image (Genesis 1:26–27); and

WHEREAS, Longings to protect one’s family from warfare, violence, disease, extreme poverty, and other destitute conditions are universal, driving millions of people to leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren; and

WHEREAS, God commands His people to treat immigrants with the same respect and dignity as those native born (Leviticus 19:33–34; Jeremiah 7:5–7; Ezekiel 47:22; Zechariah 7:9–10); and

WHEREAS, Scripture is clear on the believer’s hospitality towards immigrants, stating that meeting the material needs of “strangers” is tantamount to serving the Lord Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:35–40; Hebrews 13:2); and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists affirm the value of the family, stating in The Baptist Faith and Message that “God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society” (Article XVIII), and Scripture makes clear that parents are uniquely responsible to raise their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4); and

WHEREAS, Untold numbers of men and women seeking to enter the United States legally, desiring to become good citizens of our country, often languish at the borders due to the complexity of our immigration system; and

WHEREAS, In its 2011 resolution “On Immigration and The Gospel,” messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention asked our governing authorities to prioritize efforts to secure the borders and to hold businesses accountable for hiring practices as they relate to immigration status; and

WHEREAS, In that same resolution, Southern Baptist Convention messengers also asked our governing authorities to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country; and

WHEREAS, At the time, Southern Baptist Convention messengers made clear that the wording of the resolution was not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant living in violation of the law of the land; and

WHEREAS, After seven years of continued policy gridlock, there have been no substantive changes in the immigration system that would make it more just, humane, efficient, and orderly; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12–13, 2018, affirm the value and dignity of immigrants, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, culture, national origin, or legal status; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we desire to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we declare that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage all elected officials, especially those who are members of Southern Baptist churches, to do everything in their power to advocate for a just and equitable immigration system, those in the professional community to seek ways to administer just and compassionate care for the immigrants in their community, and our Southern Baptist entities to provide resources that will equip and empower churches and church members to reach and serve immigrant communities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors to address immigration issues with their local churches and to exhort their congregations to serve their local immigrant communities; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we affirm that all immigrants are either brothers and sisters in Christ or people whom God loves and has given us an opportunity to reach with the gospel where otherwise they may never have heard.