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.....