I wonder if I might make an observation simply as a local church minister concerned for Mission.
Each church has it’s own nature, culture and makeup, and that is reflected in the people with whom they have a natural affinity, and thus a natural missional connection.
Therefore the question of same sex marriage registration is not simply an internal matter of biblical interpretation and Theology. It has profound missiological implications, since the church’s response to same sex partnerships, and their choice to register or not will at least in part determine the people they can reach in mission, the cultures, sectors of society and people groups who will be open to association with the church, leading to belonging and believing.
Churches that have registered for same sex marriages will find it easier to build trusting relationships with one sector of society, especially those wary of what they see as traditional “church attitudes”, whilst those that choose not to register will appeal to a different sector.
It is important therefore that Churches are free to follow Christ’s leading in their particular context given their make-up and connections, and “be true to themselves” in this matter, or we may be asking them to alienate themselves from the people they have been sent to relate to and minister Christ among.
We live in a multi cultural, multi racial society where attitudes to sexuality are often culturally derived and deep seated. Dare I suggest that at the moment having both affirming and non affirming churches is essential if the different parts of our Baptist family are to reach the different parts of society? That “mutual respect” goes beyond respect for internal church related matters of biblical interpretation and theology and actually extends to mutual respect for the nature and missional calling of the different parts of the body of Christ present in our Baptist family?
As well as thinking about the impact of our choices on brothers and sisters within the Baptist family we must surely be giving even more thought to the impact of our choices upon those to whom Christ sent us to minister the gospel.
I do understand that the BSG has a huge responsibility in this matter, and I am praying fervently for grace wisdom and inspiration as you gather in Christ’s presence next week to consider all these aspects of a challenging question.
With love, appreciation for all your prayerful work, and my prayers for you all