The following testimony was delivered before the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee  on Tuesday, January  15, 2013, in anticipation of a vote to redefine marriage.

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Respected members of the House Judiciary Committee, I am grateful to address you today. I speak against the proposed legislation not only as a private citizen, but as an ordained Christian minister.

This public service is often a very thankless task. Such ministers are under orders to speak for their Lord unequivocally. Often, they must contradict men and women of power and influence.  And suffer the consequences, knowing that they have a greater reward in heaven.

Oftentimes, they must touch the sensitive nerve of sexuality and run the risk of spiting those who know what they want and are used to getting it. They must address sexual ethics and its bearing on public policy.

As I speak to you today, I am reminded of John the Baptist. John was a quintessential man of God, a new Elijah, calling on his people to nothing less than radical brokenness for sin and lifestyle change. They must repent, for “the axe is laid at the root of the tree.”

He also happened to have the ear of a powerful man, King Herod. Herod respected him. But Herod was used to getting what he wanted. So was his wife. But his wife was already married to another man – to his own brother. To make a long story short, John didn’t roll over and play dead. He spoke. “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” John had touched a very sensitive nerve, and for that he lost his head.

We also must at times touch sensitive nerves. Today, we must affirm the holy ordinance of marriage to be between one man and one woman, in covenant, for life. Other sexuality is thereby forbidden. Fornication, adultery, no-fault divorce, and yes, homosexual sex is, to use the language of the Baptist, “unlawful.” In point of fact, the Scripture brands the latter as “abomination.”

But please understand. We, as John of old, have no relish for controversy. Nor do we have some personal animus against those on the other side.

Like John, we are simply under orders. Much inside us shrinks from the public light, especially when our stance is increasingly unpopular. But we have been called to obey, not do as we please. Even if that makes us misunderstood, or worse.

And like John, we in fact dearly love our fellow-men. John didn’t hate Herod or his wife, but spoke the truth for their sake. Please understand, I speak not for self-righteous bigots. We love our neighbors. And we plead with them to stop courting judgment. Your honors, I beg you in the name of God, take heed. “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”