Russell Moore speaks on gospel and marriage at Vatican

November 18, 2014

Russell Moore addressed a worldwide gathering of religious leaders today at the Vatican on the necessity of complementarity and the importance of marriage from an evangelical Protestant perspective.

At this gathering of 300 religious leaders at Vatican City, Moore insisted that—despite the theological differences represented across the diverse gathering—marriage and the sexual difference on which it is built is a matter of critical public importance. At the same time, “there is a distinctively Christian urgency” for why Christians must bear witness to marriage as a complementary union of man and woman for life in a culture that is rapidly trying to redefine or devalue marriage.

Noting that marriage is a common good that people of all faiths should be concerned with, Moore argued that following the Sexual Revolution and its sexual libertarianism will lead to disastrous consequences. “The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all,” Moore contended, “but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy.” Instead, “the Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure,” and that such a foundation will do nothing but damage to women and children.

From an evangelical Protestant perspective, complementarity in marriage is a gospel archetype, “icons of God’s purpose for the universe.” In marriage, we see “a picture of the very mystery that defines the existence of the people of God—the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The joining of man and woman in the one-flesh union of marriage “points beyond itself to the Union of Christ and his church.”

Some claim that Christians should avoid the issue of marriage altogether, because “modern people” simply will not accept our arguments about marriage. And yet, Moore insisted, this kind of argument comes every generation. Previous generations were told that modern people could not accept what Christians believed about miracles, about resurrections, and that if the church would simply abandon those points that were unpopular or hard to believe, then it would be able to attract people to Christianity far more effectively. As Moore notes, “the churches that followed this path are now deader than Henry VIII. It turns out that people who don’t want Christianity don’t want almost-Christianity.”

Instead, Christians must maintain their witness on the issue of marriage and the family. “We will not capitulate on these issues because we cannot,” Moore commented. Christians must be persuasive and winsome, must “articulate and embody a vision for marriage.” The church must move forward with the gospel “with the confidence of those who know that on the other side of our culture wars there’s a sexual counter-revolution waiting to be born, again.”

Moore was one of two evangelical Protestant leaders to speak at this event. Other speakers included Jonathan Sacks, former Prime Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth; Rick Warren, author and pastor of Saddleback Church; and Pope Francis, who opened the colloquium with an address on the good and beauty of complementarity in marriage.

Download the full address