Skip to comments.Southern Baptists Face a Moment of Decision on Gay Marriage
Posted on 06/06/2014 6:39:56 AM PDT by robowombat
Southern Baptists Face a Moment of Decision on Gay Marriage (and You Will Too)
Al Mohler | President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary | Monday, June 02, 2014 ChristianHeadlines.com SOUTHERN BAPTISTS FACE A MOMENT OF DECISION ON GAY MARRIAGE (AND YOU WILL TOO)
10 Comments Print Email #gay marriage #church #opinion #southern baptists Southern Baptists will be heading for Baltimore in just a few days, and the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is to be held in a city that has not hosted the convention since 1940. This time, Baptists attending the meeting will face an issue that would not have been imaginable just a few years ago, much less in 1940 a congregation that affirms same-sex relationships.
Just days before the convention, news broke that a congregation in suburban Los Angeles has decided to affirm same-sex sexuality and relationships. In an hour-long video posted on the Internet, Pastor Danny Cortez explains his personal change of mind and position on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex relationships. He also addressed the same issues in a letter posted at Patheos.com.
In the letter, Cortez describes a sunny day at the beach in August of 2013 when I realized I no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality.
Shortly thereafter, he told his 15-year-old son that he no longer believed what he used to believe. His son responded with an even more direct word to his father: Dad, Im gay. As Cortez writes, My heart skipped a beat and I turned towards him and we gave one another the biggest and longest hug as we cried. And all I could tell him was that I loved him so much and that I accepted him just as he is.
According to the pastor, events then came rather quickly. On February 7, 2014, his son, Drew, posted a coming out video on YouTube. Two days later, the pastor told his church about his new position on the issue (also posted on the Internet). In his message to the New Heart Community Church congregation, Cortez admitted that his new position represented a radical shift that put him into conflict with both the position of the church and the convictions of the denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. He acknowledged that his change of heart on the issue of homosexuality put him at odds with the SBCs confession of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message.
In his letter, the pastor said that his aim was to see the congregation allow for grace in the midst of disagreement. To his regret, he said, many in the church were not pleased and the church had to consider whether to terminate the pastor. After voting on March 9 to prolong the time of consideration and prayer, the church voted on May 18 not to dismiss the pastor and to instead become a Third Way church.
Cortez cited Vineyard pastor Ken Wilsons book, released earlier this year, A Letter to My Congregation. Wilson, who serves a Vineyard church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, describes his book as an evangelical pastors path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender in the company of Jesus. Wilson argues that, even as he has come to affirm same-sex behaviors and relationships, the issue need not divide congregations or Christians.
Pastor Cortez cited Wilsons argument as foundational to the position he and his church are now taking agree to disagree and not cast judgment on one another.
But, there is no third way. A church will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviors and relationships are sinful, or it will affirm them. Eventually, every congregation in America will make a public declaration of its position on this issue. It is just a matter of time (and for most churches, not much time) before every congregation in the nation faces this test.
The impossibility of a third way is made clear in Pastor Cortezs own letter.
In one paragraph, he writes:
So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgement. We will work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences. We wee that this is possible in the same way that our church holds different positions on the issue of divorce and remarriage. In this issue we are able to not cast judgement in our disagreement.
But in the very next paragraph, he writes:
Unfortunately, many who voted to remain traditional will now separate from us in a couple of weeks. We are in the period of reconciliation and forgiveness. Please pray for us in this. Then on June 8, we will formally peacefully separate, restate our love for one another, and bless each other as we part ways. It has been a very tiring and difficult process.
In two successive paragraphs the pastor refutes himself. His church is not going to take a middle ground. He states clearly that we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. And his church did not unanimously agree to disagree, for a significant portion of the church is leaving on June 8, just 48 hours before the Southern Baptist Convention convenes in Baltimore. Many who voted to remain traditional are now forced by conviction to leave the church.
Why? Because there is no third way. The New Heart Community Church has voted to accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. Even if it is claimed that some continuing members of the church are in disagreement with the new policy and position, they will be members of a church that operates under that new policy. At the very least, their decision to remain in the congregation is a decision to stay within a church that affirms same-sex behaviors and relationships. That is not a middle position. It is not a third way.
For some time now, it has been increasingly clear that every congregation in this nation will be forced to declare itself openly on this issue. That moment of decision and public declaration will come to every Christian believer, individually. There will be no place to hide, and no place safe from eventual interrogation. The question will be asked, an invitation will be extended, a matter of policy must be decided, and there will be no refuge.
There is no third way on this issue. Several years ago, I made that argument and was assailed by many on the left as being reductionistically binary. But, the issue is binary. A church will recognize same-sex relationships, or it will not. A congregation will teach a biblical position on the sinfulness of same-sex acts, or it will affirm same-sex behaviors as morally acceptable. Ministers will perform same-sex ceremonies, or they will not.
Interestingly, a recent point of agreement on this essential point has come from an unexpected source. Tony Jones, long known as a leader in the emerging church has written that there is no third way on same-sex marriage. As Jones notes, denominations may study the issue for some time, but eventually it will take a vote. At that point, it will either allow for same-sex marriage, or not.
In his words:
And the same goes for an individual congregation. At some point, every congregation in America will decide either, YES, same-sex marriages will take place in our sanctuary, performed by our clergy; or NO, same-sex marriages will not take place in our sanctuary, performed by our clergy. There is no third way on that. A church either allows same-sex marriages, or it doesnt.
Tony Jones and I stand on opposite sides of this issue, but on the impossibility of a third way we are in absolute agreement. Conservative evangelicals have understood this for some time. It is interesting that those on the left now understand the issue in the same binary terms. There is no middle position. Once again, Tony Jones gets right to the essential point:
What Im saying is that a church or an organization can study the issue in theory, and they can even do so for years. But this isnt really a third way or a middle ground. Instead, it is a process. And at some point, that process has to end and practices have to be implemented. At that point, theres no third way. You either affirm marriage equality in your practices, or you do not.
Actually, as we have seen, Pastor Cortez makes the same point. The practice of his congregation is now to accept openly-gay members and members in openly-gay relationships. That does not allow for any middle ground, and that is why his church faces an exodus of members next Sunday.
Now, the Southern Baptist Convention also faces a moment of unavoidable decision. A church related to the Convention has officially adopted a gay-affirming position. The Baptist Faith & Message, the denominations confession of faith, states that homosexuality is immoral and that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.
Furthermore, the Conventions constitution states explicitly that any congregation that endorses homosexual behavior is not in cooperation with the Convention, and thus excluded from its membership.
There is nothing but heartbreak in this situation. Here we face a church that has rejected the clear teachings of Scripture, the affirmations of its confession of faith, and two millennia of Christian moral wisdom and teaching. But the Convention also faces a test of its own resolve and convictional courage.
I am confident that the Southern Baptist Convention will act in accordance with its own convictions, confession of faith, and constitution when messengers to the Convention gather next week in Baltimore. But every single evangelical congregation, denomination, mission agency, school, and institution had better be ready to face the same challenge, for it will come quickly, and often from an unexpected source. Once it comes, there is no middle ground, and no third way.
Sooner or later and probably sooner the answer of every church and Christian will be either yes or no.
I am always glad to hear from readers. Just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/albertmohler
Publication date: June 2, 2014
” The practice of his congregation is now to accept openly-gay members and members in openly-gay relationships.”
If they go to Hell, why does the pastor care? As long as they are able to fornicate without guilt, he is happy.
Oh, I’m guessing he doesn’t believe in Hell anymore.
He’s going to need a new Bible too.
Must have been on Black's Beach..................
Southern Baptists poised to join the rest of Big Religion circling the bowl.
The Church never can and never will give satisfactionand the homosexualist knows it, for he knows the words against him are ineradicableto the declared and impenitent homosexual, the person who, through an act of the vermiculate will, has identified his person with a sin, whether he demands acceptance of his sin through "love," or vindication through identification of his perceived enemies as bigots. Whether he presents himself as an object of love or indignation, what he demands in either case is acceptance not of the person, but of the sin-bound and sin-defined person. He demands the declaration of spiritual authority that there is nothing objectively disordered about this binding of man to sin, and assurance that this monstrous amalgam can indeed enter the kingdom of heaven. This can never happen among Christians until they abandon Christianity, which is at war with every sin, and whose indelible constitution places all perversions of the perfect man at the muzzle of its canons.
I do not think they will do so.
If the SBC chooses sin, they have lost me and my family.
Exact same tactics the sodomites used to enter secular society.
Much of the responsibility for our slide into open depravity belongs to church leadership.
Amen on the normalization.
I could only read about a quarter of the article before I quit.
I don’t identify with the glbtqyzdkvwxyz community any more than I do with the Adulterous and fornicating generation. There is no difference. Sinners justifying sin, and we are ALL guilty.
If one can’t see where this is headed in the next five to ten years, one may very well be surprised by conditions just a little bit down the road.
“Many [Traditionalists] are now going to separate.”
Typical weaselly academic-speak. What about “Traditionalists are now going to flee the building, knocking over others in an attempt to escape the consequences of such actions.”
If the SBC caves, our Church will withdraw from the SBC. Their call.
There is no way that Southern Baptists will condone this.
You wish! I don’t know a Southern Baptist within 500 miles that approves of sodomite marriage!
I hope not. “Wouldn’t be prudent”.
I don’t get how this is even up for a decision. The bible is clear, and the bible is what I go by.
This kind of falling away was foreseen millennia ago:
If this happens, then for me “Christendom” is becoming the problem.
If I questioned the traditional teachings regarding adultery, and if my son then confessed that he was in an adulterous relationship and wanted to continue with adultery, would I follow in this person’s footsteps?
Option 1: Avoid conflict with secular society, with my son, with FedGov’s enforcers. I could pretend that my feelings and my son’s choices are more important than scripture, and I would be celebrated by the left.
Option 2: I could accept the idea that the Creator of the universe, the all-powerful and all-knowing God who gave us life, his Son, and the Bible knows what He is doing. I could defer to His judgement on how I should live my life and on what guidance I should provide to my son and to others.
I am firmly convinced that option 1 would be easier and would reduce conflict, which sounds very nice. I am just as firmly convinced that option 2 has the advantage of keeping my life and my son’s life closer to God. I know that I will fall short in many ways on following God’s Word. What I will not do and cannot understand is choosing to encourage my own son or other young people to ignore God.
“You wish! I dont know a Southern Baptist within 500 miles that approves of sodomite marriage!”
I’m SB, born and raised. And, am still so as is my family. The problem concerning this issue is not with current leadership and senior membership, let’s say over forty. The problem is with the church youth. They have friends or at least know people who are gay or lesbian, and don’t see what the big deal is. So, these young are having difficulty reconciling church doctrine with their personal beliefs. So, SBC has tough “row to hoe” with this for sure. If SBC “holds the line” they run the risk of declining membership as youth goes it separate way. If SBC takes a more moderate position it runs risk of losing senior members, maybe who churches breaking off. I don’t have the answer, that’s what I know for sure.....
Because he WANTS to support it so he just skips those parts.
“Dad, I’m a bank robber.”
“Dad, I’m an adulterer.”
“Dad, I’m a murderer.”
Would any of those confessions cause the man to stop believing in the traditional teachings regarding such sins? Nope. Yet he has decided to disregard the Bible and delude himself that queerness is just a form of “love.”
This will be a message for other like-minded religious leaders (I will not call them pastors because they are not).
The fact that this is even up for discussion, shows how much things have changed in this culture.
We are well on the way to normalizing homosexual marriage in our civil laws.
So now, pressures will be brought to bear to allow homosexual marriage in churches.
It’s predictable that splits within denominations will happen over this issue. As I understand it, in the Southern Baptist Convention, individual churches decided to join, or decide to leave. Unfortunately some congregations will try to prove how liberal they are, and leave the convention.
It puts more pressure on all of us as individuals as well, to make sure our local churches retain the traditional doctrines on marriage and family . We as individuals may find that we have to leave our long time church homes, if our churches decide to normalize homosexuality. We may all have to make such a choice.
The SBC openly chose sin when it refused to speak clearly on the sin of sending children to government schools. It is also inching to the left on amnesty, the environment, feminism, and, even more so, on “diversity”. I belong to an SBC church, but I will be out the door as soon as my older sons leave for college.
The Baptist Church embraces the apostasy of “Once Saved Always Saved” so this isn’t a great stretch. It carries a type of libertarianism alongside of it.
You’ve stated the problem perfectly.
These kids grew up watching ‘Will and Grace’. And getting all the anti-bullying (ie, pro gay) mantra delivered every single day in what was probably public school.
It’s a fait accompli. It’s just a matter of time. Within a generation they’ll be performing the wedding ceremonies in church. All the old people who would have objected will be long dead. The young will see nothing wrong with any of it.
Yes, I’ve thought about that, but the day my church stops adhering to biblical teaching, is the day I walk. I might end up in a basement with a handful of other believers, but I will NOT conform, I will stick with the word of God, at any cost.
The visible church can, has and will fall away. True believers never will. This is a winnowing, a separation of the wheat from the chaff. Sadly, there appears to be a lot more chaff than wheat nowadays. But the chaff won’t have a good end.
Luk 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Luk 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
It isn’t the “friends”, because, media messaging to the contrary, sodomites are few and far between. The real problem is the government schools and media that indoctrinate the children endlessly on the sodomite lifestyle. The SBC sowed the seeds of its own destruction when it embraced government schools. The current leadership bears responsibility for that, as well as prior leaders.
The SBC is dead. Its alleged orthodoxy doesn’t translate into practice because they have made an idol of keeping the membership numbers up. I know because I know some of the leaders.
Al Moehler has rubbed me the wrong way in the past, but he is spot on in this message. There is no compromising “third way” on this issue.
The only problem is that it’s true.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Agreed. Well said.
Ah, yes. Mustn't judge...the very worst sin of all sins on earth, it seems. Perhaps now, the only sin.
Very true. There’s no way to have a 3rd way or a compromise. Either a church will allow homosexual marriage or it won’t. Either they will allow and affirm open homosexuality, or they will hold to traditional teachings that such behavior is sinful. Choices will have to be made.
It’s quite possible that years from now, that most mainstream denominations will have split into two groups over this issue.
Assuming you’re a believer.
Of course they won't openly condone this. That is not the usual pattern of apostasy. The tactic of Satan is to subtly, in tiny increments, work questioning apostasy as "honesty" into a group, little by little.
Several years ago during their annual convention, the President of the SBC agreed to meet with a group of some of the most radical homosexual activists who were attempting to change the policy of the SBC toward homosexuality. Such a meeting would NEVER have occurred even 10 years ago. That such a meeting even occurred, even though the president wouldn't budge on the stated position of the denomination, was seen as an enormous victory by the sodomite lobby.
And in a sense, they were right. They obtained a place at the table, from which they derive incredible leverage.
Christenodom has nothing to do with this, I believe.
In the name of Christendom it is the enemy in the gate who distorts, directs and destroys. Christendom has many claiments but increasingly fewer adherents, which marks the glaring difference.
Also, Christians knew this was coming and much more, until as Jesus said of his second coming, “will there be found any faith on earth”.
And you can almost see the wave coming from the State of CA...meaning loss of tax exempt status for Bible believing churches.
My faith doesn’t depend on the tax exemmpt status of my church...but I can see how the government can make things more difficult. How long until the Bible is declared hate speech ? Not long, I’m sure.
As a member of a SBC church and the mother of a woman legally married to another woman in DC., I pray my church holds firmly to the Bible. Unlike Cortez, I didn’t change my mind because one of my children has chosen to practice homosexuality in spite of having been raised in the church.
Rather I pray for her repentance daily.
If the SBC caves in to this sin America is truly lost.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
That about sums it up. Hoping the Southern Baptists will remain true to Christian teaching on sexuality. The truth is not based on majority vote.
The large Southern Baptist Church that I had attended, and to which my mother still belongs, has at least one member that I know of in an open, homosexual relationship (he used to be my boss.) I don’t know what the church’s extent of knowledge on this relationship is, but when they do become aware of it, it will be interesting to see what happens. The church subscribes to the “welcoming” philosophy of “doing church,” and I don’t think they have ever ex-communicated anyone. The first time will likely be a house shaker, if it even happens.
Yes, I know what you are saying. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is sometimes difficult to understand. The very proof that you truly believe is remaining in the faith and obedience to God’s commands. Hebrews teaches that if someone can turn apostate with no repercussions, then they probably were never truly saved. I do believe that our faith is given and maintained by God, not ourselves.
Have a blessed day!
I’m glad you posted it, because religion, or more properly a relationship with the living God by the only means He has given, the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, is not isolated from how the believer lives in society.
True believers are reading/studying the Word of God and learning how to live in this world, which is temporal, by believing what God has said and by obeying Him in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit—until the day they are taken to their true home in heaven to be with the Lord.
One of the things God has said in His Word is that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again (to this earth, literally) to judge both Israel and the nations for their rejection of Him and for their unwillingness to repent of their sins so they can be forgiven.
After God pours out His wrath in judgment, Jesus is going to literally set up His kingdom on earth and rule and reign from Jerusalem for 1000 years. Then comes the final judgment of the ungodly before God and their eternal separation from God. They this present earth and heavens will be burnt up. There are other details, but this is the general sequence of events.
So if you know this and you believe it, it is going to affect the way you live NOW. This is the way the apostle Peter put it in 2 Peter 3:7-13:
7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. ...9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
So, all ungodliness will, in the end, be recompensed by a holy God, and Romans Chapter 1 is clear enough as to this particular form of ungodliness that is mentioned in the title of this article. Romans 1.
Yes correct. As someone raised within the SBC I was taught that. Each church is a self governing commonwealth. It just has to endorse basic beliefs of Biblical Innerantcy to be SBC. SBC membership means being able to be part of a large retirement fund and other resource pooling arrangements. Churches join and leave the SBC all the time. The Jimmy Carter baptists have set up something called the ‘Cooperative baptists Convention’ which would not, i suspect be uncomfortable with a ‘gay friendly’ agenda. The Baptist church my parents were members of from its founding decided (its in the Va suburbs of DC) to leave the SBC and become a Carter Baptist church. This gay acceptance stuff has been around in the shadows in the SBC for decades. A recent grad of the seminary in Richmond and the son of prominent members of my folks church preached a sermon there about 1980 where he used Aeosopian language but clearly was endorsing queerdom as a ‘lifestyle’. Few caught the inference. My mother did and let his mother know what she thought of it. This guy dumped the ministry in a couple years and went to being an ‘investment adviser’.