Evangelical pastors support Minnesota bishops' campaign against redefining marriage

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A group of evangelical pastors spoke out on Monday expressing their support for Archbishop John Nienstedt and other Catholic bishops in Minnesota. The pastors also expressed agreement with the bishops' endorsement of a constitutional amendment which would define marriage as a union of one man and woman.

At a press conference organized by the Minnesota Family Council, pastors from the various evangelical groups and denominations affirmed the view of the state's Catholic hierarchy and its leader Archbishop Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Paraphrasing St. Paul's first-century letter to the Church of Rome, Pastor Jim Anderson described homosexual acts as “against nature” and contrary to the design of human biology.

He concurred with Archbishop Nienstedt's view, that traditional marriages and families will be weakened if same-sex unions are enshrined as their legal equivalent. He said there was a “strong and documented case” linking social breakdown to the complete separation of sex from reproduction.

Anderson also emphasized the potential dangers for children, who would be expected to view men and women as essentially interchangeable.

“Today, we are asking all pastors and all Christians to be of one mind,” Anderson proclaimed, calling on them to “reject the manipulation of language and meaning involved in calling marriage anything other than a one man and one woman relationship.”

Echoing a point frequently made in the encyclicals of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, Steve Goold of New Hope Church said that the institution of marriage plays an important role in civilizing the relationship between the two sexes, particularly in helping men to view women as persons in God's image rather than as the object of their desires.

A redefinition of marriage, he implied, would use the medium of law to create new social norms, giving individual desire a dangerous priority over complementary relationships that are open to new life.

Goold said he intended to “affirm to the Archbishop of the Catholic Church, and to all those who believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, that this is the time we stand forward with courage and conviction.”

Most evangelicals do not formally share the Catholic Church's definition of marriage as a sacrament. However, many do agree with Catholics in holding that traditional marriage is the fundamental structure of the family and society, among adherents of any religion or none.

The pastors gave only brief mentions to the subject of divorce, which Archbishop Nienstedt has also condemned in recent statements as a danger to society that particularly harms women and children. They did, however, express agreement with the archbishop's call for a constitutional amendment which would define marriage as a union of a man and woman.

Archbishop Nienstedt and the other Catholic bishops of Minnesota recently began mailing 400,000 DVDs to Catholics throughout the state. The presentations explain the importance of traditional marriage, and propose a constitutional amendment that Nienstedt says is needed “to put the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage beyond the reach of the courts and politicians.”

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