Russell Moore says he's optimistic religious conservatives will win fight over same-sex marriage in long run

Theologian Russell Moore says the fight against same-sex marriage does not end if the Supreme Court does rule in favour of it.

The religious right will prevail over same-sex marriage, not at the Supreme Court but in the long run, according to Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

"Well, I've been predicting for years that the court is hell-bent on imposing same-sex marriage on all 50 states. So that's what I'm expecting the court to do. I've been surprised before, and I hope I'm surprised again, but I doubt it," Moore said.

He said he has been warning of the possible outcome in the US Supreme Court so preachers will not be caught unprepared, like when the high court came out with the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

The said ruling stated that a right of privacy under the Constitution assured that women have the right to have an abortion in some circumstances.

"Well, I've been saying that for years to our people, just seeing the way that things were moving both judicially and culturally—that same-sex marriage was coming to every part of the country," Moore said in an interview.

"Because I didn't want evangelicals caught flat-footed the way that evangelicals were by Roe v. Wade, not anticipating that any such thing could happen, and also because there are many evangelicals who wrongly believed that this was simply a blue-state phenomenon that they would remain isolated from in their communities," Moore said.

However, the fight against same-sex marriage does not end if the Supreme Court does rule in favour of it, said Moore, who maintained that the "endless redefinition of marriage" cannot go on and on and that religious conservatives need a "long-term strategy."

"As we see already, the conversation is going even beyond the definition of what is marriage, to the question of what is a man and what is a woman? And beyond that we're beginning to see questions about dispensing with monogamy and so forth. So we have to be the people who are holding fast the way to the old paths on these things, because I really believe that this endless redefinition of marriage and sexuality will not be sustainable. So I'm a short-term pessimist and a long-term optimist," he said.

Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, the Southern Baptist Convention is set to uphold the traditional view of marriage, which is a union between a man and a woman.

"Well, if the court rules as I anticipate, evangelicals will still stand where we've always stood on marriage—as a union of one man and one woman. We have no option to capitulate on that, because marriage in a Christian vision of reality isn't just a social contract. Marriage points to something beyond the natural order—the union of Christ and his church. We didn't make up a Christian sexual ethic and we can't undo a Christian sexual ethic," he said.

Moore said that advocates against same-sex marriage made a tactical error that influenced the shift in public opinion on same-sex union. He said this is the reason for the huge difference in the results of two surveys conducted by Pew Research in 2001 and just this year on Americans' acceptance of same-sex marriage. In 2001, the survey showed that Americans opposed same-sex marriage by 57 percent to 35 percent margin. Today, a majority of Americans—57 percent—support same-sex marriage, compared with 39 percent who oppose it.

"I think the other error was, there were some people speaking to this issue from my side who were angry and presented a public face of outrage in a way that I don't think was helpful," he said. "Evangelicals don't dislike our gay and lesbian neighbours, and we don't mean them harm. We don't think that what they want—same-sex marriage—is going to give them what they want," he said.