TAYLORS, S.C. — A former president of the Southern Baptist Convention said he is "deeply concerned" about comments by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren that a recent court decision allowing gay marriage is not part of his agenda.
Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C., told the American Family News Network he believes it should be on every pastor's agenda to defend biblical marriage and lead homosexuals to Christ.
"I don't want to say too much about it, because I want to look deeper into seeing what truly happened here," said Page, a member of President Obama's faith-based advisory council. "But I can say without reservation that pastors need to be salt and light, and the light of God's Word shows us that marriage is to be one man [and] one woman for life."
"We cannot, cannot back away from that mandate from our Lord," Page said, "and every pastor ought to be publicly and privately saying, 'That is my agenda!'"
Warren declined to respond to Page's comments through the media.
Warren, pastor of the Southern Baptist-affiliated Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said April 7 on "Larry King Live" that he is "totally oblivious" to a recent Iowa Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. "That's not even on my agenda," he said.
Warren's interview, his first on television since before he delivered the invocation at Obama's inauguration, drew criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Liberals accused him of downplaying his role in the passage last November of a California constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, while religious conservatives accused him of wavering in his support of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
In a Q&A interview with Christianity Today, Warren sought to clarify what he meant when he told King he "never once" issued a statement or gave an endorsement during two years of debate over Proposition 8.
"What I was trying to say is, those who obviously opposed my viewpoint on the biblical definition or the historical definition of marriage were trying to turn me into an anti-gay activist," he said. "The truth is, Proposition 8 was a two-year campaign in the state, and during those two years, I never said a word about it until the eight days before the election, and then I did make a video for my own people when they asked, 'How should we vote on this?' It was a pastor talking to his own people. I've never said anything about it since. I don't know how you take one video newsletter to your own church and turn that into, all of a sudden I'm the poster boy for anti-gay marriage."
Warren also discussed an hour-long Beliefnet interview, during which he answered one question in a way that "made it sound like I was equating homosexuality with pedophilia and incest."
"I don't believe that, but because I made a commitment to not say anything about it, people just ran with it," he said. "They were looking for a new poster boy. There's a lot of hatred out there. People don't realize that you don't have to agree with somebody to love them. I am commanded to love everybody. I can disagree with people, but I'm not free to not love them."
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.