Baptist Association in Australia Votes to Require All Affiliated Churches and Ministers to Affirm Biblical Marriage Only

A Baptist association in Australia has voted to require not only its member churches but all clergy accredited by the association to affirm a belief in marriage as “a covenant relationship ordained by God as a lifelong faithful union of one man and one woman” and that “sexual intimacy outside such a marriage relationship is incompatible with God’s intention for us as his people.”

Churches and ministers not agreeing with the doctrinal parameters will not be allowed to remain in the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory Baptist Association, although an 18-month transition period has been given.

While the Nov. 12 vote by the Australians mirrors a pattern of disagreement among Baptists in the United States and elsewhere about LGBTQ inclusion and same-sex marriage, one notable difference is the power the association wields over ordained clergy.

In the United States, Baptist associations and conventions typically do not have accreditation power over clergy. In the Southern Baptist Convention, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Alliance of Baptists and most of the historic Black Baptist denominations, for example, all ordinations are matters handled by local churches. Associations and conventions may choose to deny membership to churches based on their ordination practices but do not control them. In the American Baptist Churches USA, ordination is handled by a partnership between local congregations and regional bodies, more akin to the Australian model.

In the New South Wales Association, “accreditation involves the formalized approval of people as suitable, and available, for ministry within the Baptist churches. … It recognizes they have met certain requirements, that they have the appropriate qualifications and credentials for ministry, qualifications and credentials that are usually recognized nationally, and internationally by Baptist associations and unions belonging to the Baptist World Alliance,” the association’s website explains. “Accreditation means that the association stands behind the person, affirming their fitness to perform appropriately under the legal requirements of the state, with regard to such matters as marriage, child protection, and non-discrimination legislation.”

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Source: Baptist News Global