Pastors representing over 16 million Americans say even if the Supreme Court supports same-sex marriage in an upcoming ruling, they will hold to the biblical definition.
The current and former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention said they love all people but cannot affirm any behaviour that departs from God’s Word.
“What the Bible says about marriage is clear, definitive and unchanging”, the 17 churchmen said.
The US Supreme Court is expected to deliver a ruling on whether or not there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage before the end of the month.
But the Southern Baptist leaders said the Bible’s teaching on marriage as between one man and one woman is “not negotiable”.
“Consequently, we will not accept, nor adhere to, any legal redefinition of marriage issued by any political or judicial body including the United States Supreme Court”, they wrote.
“We will not recognize same-sex ‘marriages’, our churches will not host same-sex ceremonies, and we will not perform such ceremonies.
“While we affirm our love for all people, including those struggling with same-sex attraction, we cannot and will not affirm the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior or any behavior that deviates from God’s design for marriage.
“We also believe religious freedom is at stake within this critical issue – that our first duty is to love and obey God, not man”, they added.
The leaders add that they will support people standing for biblical marriage in business, education and the media.
Up until now individual states have been free to decide on same-sex marriage for themselves.
However pressure on the courts from gay activists has resulted in many pro-traditional marriage votes being overruled.