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Moore: Electorate rejected ‘radical societal change’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Abortion and same-sex “marriage” were key factors in President Bush’s re-election because the prevailing majority of the American people do not favor “radical societal change,” a seminary dean told a public TV audience.

“We don’t represent the kind of nation that would attack our most vulnerable through something as barbaric as partial-birth abortion,” Russell D. Moore said in describing the electorate’s outlook. “We’re not the kind of nation that wants to say we are going to do away with 5,000 years of human civilization in terms of the definition of marriage.”

Moore, who serves as dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, voiced his assessment during a discussion of the nation’s “moral divide” on Kentucky Educational Television’s “Kentucky Tonight” program.

Three others appeared with Moore: state Reps. Stan Lee and Kathy Stein and Albert Pennybacker, chair and chief executive of the Clergy Network.

Moore and Lee were the two conservatives on the Nov. 22 panel while Pennybacker and Stein represented the liberal viewpoint. Host Bill Goodman asked the four participants to define moral values and their answers demonstrated the sharp distinction between their worldviews.

Moore said people do not define the moral order but must recognize an unchanging pattern of morality that has been sewn into the fabric of the universe by a sovereign Creator. Since morals transcend human definition and are based on an objective standard, institutions such as marriage are defined by the ultimate Lawgiver and not by autonomous persons, he said.

“We don’t decide what marriage is, we recognize what marriage is,” Moore said. “We don’t decide what is murder, we recognize and condemn that which is murderous. And so I don’t think it is something that we simply gather round and decide.

“I think the term ‘values’ sometimes obscures that because it makes it sound as though we are just talking about the things that we tend to value rather than these things that are objectively true and right.”

Stein listed fairness and equality as values that must always be cherished but challenged Moore’s basing of marriage in terms of absolute truth. Marriage has “evolved over the past 5,000 years,” she said.

Pennybacker challenged Moore’s definition of truth, stating that truth is not about doctrine but about universal love. Therefore marriage must not be defined according to objective truth but in terms of whether those within the relationship love each other, Pennybacker said.

“I believe in a God of absolute love,” Pennybacker said. “That means that the center of religious life is not proposition or doctrinal, it is relational because love is a relationship. And I believe that when the Bible talks about the love of God, it really means it. Love is always relational.”

While the panelists disagreed over whether America is a deeply divided nation, both Lee and Moore agreed that grassroots Americans on election day demonstrated their distaste for the liberal ideology of elites in the so-called “idea centers” of the country. The red areas on the political maps and not the blue ones represent mainstream America, Moore said.

“The country is mostly red but when you notice what is blue, they are the idea centers of the country — Manhattan, Hollywood — these are very deep blue places that are really exporting a culture that I really think the nation was revolting against on Nov. 2,’” Moore said.

“The American people were saying, ‘We really don’t want imposed upon us the values of the Massachusetts Supreme Court dictating same-sex ‘marriage’; we really don’t want Whoopi Goldberg speaking for the American people’ … They don’t represent the heart and soul of America as John Kerry said.”

Concerning abortion, Moore noted that Bush likely will have an opportunity to appoint more than one justice to the U.S. Supreme Court during the next four years and his reelection sends a signal that Americans have grown weary of government by judicial fiat.

“We have a Supreme Court that is probably going to be in major transition, perhaps even over the next year and I think the voters had that on their minds,” Moore said. “They want a president who is going to appoint justices who are not going to continue that kind of Massachusetts Supreme Court judicial activism.”

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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