The North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention has announced it is prohibiting Baptist military chaplains from performing, attending or supporting same-sex weddings – on or off base.
With the Supreme Court decision this summer, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Pentagon’s new policy of offering travel-leave for same-sex couples wanting to marry, Mike Ebert, spokesman for the NAMB, said the organization has received requests for clarification.
“We wanted to clearly articulate in writing for the Department of Defense that these are our expectations,” he said.
Doug Carver, a retired Army major and leader of NAMB’s chaplaincy program, said the guidelines are a chance to reiterate Southern Baptist doctrine.
“Our chaplains want to uphold the authority and relevancy of Scripture, while continuing to serve in a very diverse setting” he said. “We believe these updated guidelines will help them do that while still sharing the love and the hope of Christ with everyone.”
Conscience protections for military members were approved by Congress last year and the 2014 defense authorization bill expands on those. NAMB hopes that by spelling out a position on doctrine, pastoral care, restrictions and pluralism, chaplains will have a firm foundation from which to serve.
NAMB president Kevin Ezell expressed his support for the chaplains and asked Southern Baptists to pray for them.
“For many members of our military – especially those deployed around the globe – our chaplains are the only pastors they have,” he said. “That’s why it is so important that they uphold sound doctrine, while showing everyone the love and forgiveness Jesus offers. We all need to be committed to praying for them in these challenging days.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the NAMB’s new chaplain guidelines.