NASHVILLE (BP) — Lead Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore will speak at a Vatican-sponsored, inter-religious conference on strengthening marriage and family life, it was announced Monday (Nov. 3).
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, will present an evangelical Christian perspective during the international colloquium, which is about the “complementarity of man and woman” in marriage. The event will be Nov. 17-19 at Vatican City, which is located within Rome and is home to the Roman Catholic pope.
While evangelicals and Catholics have “real and ongoing differences” on salvation and the church that will remain after the conference, Moore said he is privileged to have the opportunity to speak about marriage at the event.
“In a day in which marriage is increasingly marginalized and attempts are made to redefine it, I’m honored to present the biblical view that marriage is a picture of Christ and His church to this diverse group of religious leaders,” Moore said in a written statement. “Even though we disagree on many things, I hope to speak to God’s design for human flourishing as rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Moore said he is grateful the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “decided to convene this gathering on such an important issue.”
“I hope that the conversation that we have together will underscore the significance of the complementarity of man and woman for marriage and for the common good,” he said.
Moore’s hope for the colloquium is that its participants will “stand in solidarity on the common grace, creational mandate of marriage and family as necessary for human flourishing and social good,” he said in a Nov. 3 blog post. “I also hope that we can learn from one another about where these matters stand around the world. And I hope that those of us from the believers’ church tradition can represent well our views of how marriage is more than just a natural good (although it is never less than that), but is a picture of the Gospel one-flesh union of Christ and His church.”
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and popular author, will join Moore as the two American evangelicals to speak at the colloquium.
Pope Francis will speak during the opening session of the conference.
Other scheduled speakers include:
— N.T. Wright, popular Christian author and professor at the University of St. Andrews.
— Charles Chaput, Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia.
— Jonathan Sacks, professor at both New York University and Yeshiva University and former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the United Kingdom.
Other scheduled speakers include representatives of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism and the Sikh religion.
The colloquium comes at a time when marriage as a permanent union of only a man and a woman is threatened, especially in the United States: Judicial rulings have set the stage for same-sex marriage to be legal in 35 states; the percentage of American adults who have never married is at an all-time high; and cohabitation and divorce are problems in the culture and the church. In addition, the religious freedom of Americans who decline to provide their services for same-sex weddings based on their convictions increasingly is imperiled.
Moore’s blog post may be accessed at http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/11/03/why-im-going-to-the-vatican/.