Conversation with Evangelicals for Marriage Equality

On September 14, I extended an invitation to Evangelicals for Marriage Equality to have a dialogue on the nature of marriage and whether evangelicals should support same-sex marriage. After a number of emails behind the scenes, I am pleased to announce that Michael Saltsman, one of the co-founders of EME, will be joining my Bible & Moral Issues class tomorrow (October 15) on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In addition to being one of the co-founders of EME, Mr. Saltsman is research director at the Employment Policies Institute in Washington, D.C. He has published a number of articles on minimum wage and employment policies. His articles have appeared in prestigious publications, such as the Wall Street Journal.

Some may wonder why I would allow someone with whom I disagree substantially on a significant issue to have an hour or so of my precious class time. In some respects, I have already answered this question in a previous post regarding my selection of books for one of my classes. I chose a text that espouses positions that I fundamentally oppose on a particular ethical issue. This is a very similar exercise. In that post, I noted:

For most of my academic career, I have heard Dr. Paige Patterson (president of my seminary) say that students need to know the arguments of the best thinkers who disagree with our positions.

Before inviting EME, I approached Dr. Patterson seeking his permission to extend the invitation. He told me it was my class and that he trusted me. In essence, I am doing what he taught me to do. This time it just happens to be live and in-person rather than in book form.

Am I afraid that my students will be swayed to support same-sex marriage? Not really. Could it happen? Anything is possible. Do they need to hear what EME has to say? Certainly. If some of my students are convinced to support same-sex marriage as a result of this conversation, then I have done a poor job of making my case this semester (granted, I still have about 7 more weeks left this semester to change any of their minds). It’s humbling to invite someone into my classroom whose goal is to convince my students that I am wrong. But it is a healthy exercise for both student and professor.

I am looking forward to a healthy discussion regarding our differences of opinion related to marriage. I have also invited all of my students from other classes to join us tomorrow morning. If you happen to be around the SWBTS campus at 8:30 in the morning, you are welcome to join us in Truett Conference Room.

An Invitation to Dialogue with Evangelicals for Marriage Equality

Baptist Press published an article yesterday with comments from various Southern Baptist thinkers and leaders (and then me) responding to the launch of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality (EME). For those of you not familiar with EME, the opening paragraph of their statement of belief reads as follows:

As Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, we believe you can be a devout, Bible-believing evangelical and support the right of same-sex couples to be recognized by the government as married. Our commitment to following Christ leads us to speak out for equal treatment under the law for others—whether or not they share our religious convictions.

One of the key goals of this organization is to foster “compassionate, respectful dialogue” on the issue of same-sex marriage. They acknowledge that some of the conversations on both sides of the aisle have not always been helpful or civil.

As a Southern Baptist, I agree with the statements released in Baptist Press, especially considering my comments are part of the article. It should come as no surprise that I disagree with the position of EME. However, the statements back and forth (especially on Twitter) have been less of a conversation and more of short sound bites or longer soliloquies.

In light of this and in the spirit of dialogue, I am offering an open invitation to EME co-founders Josh Dickson and Michael Saltsman and/or spokesperson Brandan Robertson to have a dialogue in my ethics classes on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.

In just two sections of The Christian Home (a course on the ethics of marriage and family), I have nearly 100 students—future Baptist and evangelical pastors, missionaries, professors, and ministry leaders—focusing on the issue of marriage. The class schedule is such that both sections can be visited within the span of about 15 hours (Monday evening and Tuesday morning). I also have an introductory level class on the Bible and Moral Issues that meets Wednesday morning. The seminary classroom setting is perhaps a perfect place to have this dialogue as we believe in the exchange and evaluation of ideas.

If EME would like to send a representative to the fifth largest media market in the country to have a dialogue on the campus of one of the largest theological seminaries in the world, the invitation is open. My contact information is readily available on my faculty profile page on the seminary website.

Ethics Courses for the Fall Semester

stack_of_booksI haven’t ever posted my teaching schedule here, but some people may be interested in what I am teaching. You may even be considering whether or not to take one of my classes. So this is your opportunity to get a glimpse of what I will be teaching at SWBTS and what my syllabi look like.

The Christian Home (Mon at 6:15 pm or Tues/Thurs at 8:30 am): This is a class focused on the ethics of marriage and family. I will cover a theology of marriage, divorce, remarriage, singleness, gender roles, sexuality, and distorted sexuality. There are two sections of this class. Christian Home Syllabus (Mon) Christian Home Syllabus (Tues/Thurs)

The Bible and Moral Issues (Wed/Fri at 8:30 am): This class is an introduction to biblical ethics. I begin by laying a foundation of the Bible’s role in ethics and morality. Then I lead the class through the Ten Commandments as a guide for doing biblical ethics. In addition to the obvious applications of the Ten Commandments (murder, adultery, theft, etc), we also delve into topics such as anger, lust, property rights, civil disobedience, and truth-telling. Bible and Moral Issues Syllabus

Selected Issues of Life and Death (Tues/Thurs at 11:30 am): This class is an upper-level ethics elective (prerequisites required) where we will discuss the issues of abortion, assisted reproductive technologies, genetic engineering, aging, death, euthanasia, and capital punishment. Selected Issues of Life and Death Syllabus

Spiritual Formation (Wed at 11:30): This is the basic spiritual formation course for all first year master’s students at SWBTS. After seven years of teaching here, it is hard to believe that this will be my first semester to lead this course.

If you are interested in any of these classes, it is not too late to register. If you just want to follow along with what I am teaching, you can always take a look at the course schedule near the end of each syllabus.

MacGorman Chapel Opens at Southwestern Seminary

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a nice article on yesterday’s grand opening of the new MacGorman Chapel on the Fort Worth campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The article was accompanied by a front page photo and description. It was a wonderful day of worship and celebration at the chapel yesterday. I had the privilege of singing with the Birchman Baptist Church choir in the morning worship service (If you look closely in the picture of the choir on the Star-Telegram website, you can even see me). Students, faculty, staff, and visitors brought life and vitality to the dedication service through their worship of our Savior.

For those of you unaware of the new chapel on our campus, it is a 3,500-seat auditorium that will serve as the location for our regular chapel services, graduations, and other campus events. It is also available to be rented by organizations. In a couple of weeks, we will hold our first indoor graduation on campus in 34 years. In the summer, it will be the location of our Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit.

These are exciting times at SWBTS, and I am thankful to be here.


Terry Evans, “Fort Worth seminary opens 3,500-seat concert hall,” Star-Telegram, December 2, 2011.

Photo Credit: Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall

Theological Matters from Southwestern Seminary

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary launched a new blog several weeks ago. The blog is called Theological Matters, and the content is supplied by faculty and staff at the seminary. This week Theological Matters ran my post about Penn State and the Lost Idea of Personal Responsibility that ran here on Thursday. This new blog is a great resource for preaching, theology, church history, and ethics. I would encourage you to take a look at the articles on the new blog. I think you will enjoy them.