For my section of the project I focused on the beliefs of the Jefferson Park Baptist Church here in Charlottesville. They are led by Pastor Jeff Riddle, and consider themselves a Conservative Evangelical Church. Their beliefs are outlined in a doctrine called The Confession of Faith, from which he read bits and pieces of to me throughout the interview. Jeff began by defining what he believes to be the definition of marriage, "Our church adheres to The Confession of Faith, which affirms the biblical understanding of marriage to be between one man and one woman, in a union of flesh". He went on to explain that God created Adam, and for Adam he created Eve, and that this was the founding for the "one man, one woman" marriage system. The Confession of Faith goes on to say that marriage is used for "the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race". This defines the family to be one father, one mother who form a covenant through God, to procreate through sexual relationships defined by the Bible. This excludes the types of non-blood related families made by lesbians and gays discussed in Weston’s "Exiles from Kinship".
He then went on to explain how homosexuality is viewed by his church. For this he used the Confession of Faith’s article on The Christian and Social Order. This states that, "In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography". He said that those who go outside the covenant of marriage and participate in sexual immorality experience great damage to their lives.
He said that there have been people within his church that have struggled with homosexuality. He explained that he has the same stance with homosexuals as he does with young men who deal with heterosexual lust (another sexual immorality). He said that if you’re not married, you should stay celibate.
When presented with the hypothetical situation of the US Government making gay marriage lawful, he said "We would absolutely not condone or conduct same gender marriages at our church- no matter what the civil government does". He then went on to say that he would hope the magistrate would stay out of their business for not complying with the law. He defended this stance by explaining that not just anyone is allowed to marry in the Jefferson Park Church, "It’s not just a wedding chapel". He said that if any proposing couple is "out of bounds of The Confession of Faith" then he would refuse to marry them, whether they were a gay or straight couple.
Pastor Jeff believes that if the US Government allows for same-sex marriages, that it will in turn "open Pandora’s box" and lead to possible allowance for incest, polygamy, bestiality, etc. This relates back to what this class has previously discussed with polygamy, and cousin marriage. People fear a "slippery slope" effect when it comes to these types of marriages. Jeff is also concerned with the media’s role in numbing people to the danger of homosexuality. He said that we have "been bombarded by media to accept homosexuality" and to scold those who are not accepting of the practice.