Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Winston-Salem Journal article on NC Baptist State Convention & its stance on homosexuals

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From the Winston-Salem Journal Original Source Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Matter of Definition Baptists OK anti-homosexual stand By Mary Giunca JOURNAL REPORTER Image from the Winston-Salem Journal with information on various churches and church convention stances on homosexuality. Copyrighted Image, Winston-Salem JournalThe Baptist State Convention moved a step closer yesterday to defining its longstanding opposition to homosexuality. The Convention's 175th annual meeting, which was held in Winston-Salem, is a chance for the 3,866 member churches and 164 missions to worship and conduct business. The Convention will end today. Messengers to the convention approved a motion by Bill Sanderson, the pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, asking the Convention's board of directors to define what constitutes friendly cooperation with the Convention. "Messenger" is the Convention's term for delegate. "Such a policy must deal clearly with homosexual behavior and include that a church which knowingly affirms, approves or endorses homosexual behavior is a church not in friendly cooperation with the Convention," Sanderson said. As it stands now, as long as churches contribute financially to the Convention, they are said to be "in friendly cooperation," said Norman Jameson, a spokesman for the Convention. "We, as a Convention, are lacking a clear policy dealing with homosexual behavior, which has created both questions and confusion," Sanderson said. Paul Berry, a messenger from Grainger Baptist Church in Kinston, spoke in favor of the motion and said that Baptists need to identify sin where it exists, and that homosexuality is a sin. "Baptists don't need to go the way of the Episcopalians," he said. "This is the day North Carolina Baptists can rise up and make a statement to the nation." Rob Helton, a messenger from Cherry Point Baptist Church in Havelock, spoke against the resolution and asked why the Convention was focusing solely on the sin of homosexuality. "I believe all sin is equally abhorrent to God," he said. "Does homosexuality gain our attention primarily because it is not our sin?" Helton asked if the Convention would have to write a policy on every sin in the Bible. In separate business, Stanley Welch, the pastor of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis, was elected Convention president. He defeated Blythe Taylor, the associate pastor of St. John's Baptist Church in Charlotte. Speaking at a press conference that was held after his election, Welch said that homosexuality has gotten Baptists' attention because of its visible role in American culture. People see homosexuals on television and in movies, he said. Sports figures and other celebrities are coming out of the closet. "Everything in our culture has pushed it to the forefront," he said. "I think it came out in the culture, and we have to deal with it." • Mary Giunca can be reached at 727-4089 or at ====== I find it very amusing, yet disturbing, that the Assemblies of God USA's response to "Do you have practicing gays/lesbians as members of your faith community" was "That would be highly doubtful." I hate to break to them... It is called being "in the closet" or "on the downlow." Just because you may not know about, dears, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.


In response to your Mercer post,

I don't think the GBC "made" Kirby Godsey do anything...but obviously Kirby was getting pressure from the GBC, local Baptists, donors, and the story ended up in the Atlanta he balanced having a LGBT group vs. 3.5 million dollars and the money won. I think 50% of Mercer's students are Georgia Baptists. I'm not saying disbanding the club was the "right" thing to do. But, maybe in the future, without GBC pressure - the club will come back?

But, I'm unsure of what you mean as "against" homosexuality? My interpretation of your position is that if I don't affirm homosexuality (practicing) then I'm anti-gay? Historically, Baptists are not creedal. We have historical principles. One of those principles is "soul freedom/soul competency" which means that both me and you are able to interpret the Bible on our own. A popular Christianity professor at Wake Forest said the only Baptist creed is "Ain't Nobody but Jesus gonna tell me what to believe." And that's soul freedom. Which means, while you might interpret the Bible one way - I might interpret it another way. Moderate/Liberal Baptists don't buy into the rigid conformity nonsense that you see in the Southern Baptist Convention these days...

As for homosexuality, moderate Baptists (CBF/Mainstream Baptists) are divided. You must respect that. However, when you say I'm anti-gay because I don't believe as you do - does that not make you a fundamentalist? A fundamentalist on the left? Gay rights activists have preached tolerance for years. But you're not tolerant of a "welcoming but not affirming" theological position on gays? You're intolerant? Show me the difference between what you have espoused and what Right-Wing Fundy's preach in the SBC?

There are so many moderate Baptists who politically support gay rights. Remember when Matt Bass from Baylor lost his Texas Baptist scholarship last year because he said he was gay? Many of his fellow seminarians marched in a gay-rights parade in honor of him but yet they did not theologically affirm homosexuality. You can't call moderate Baptists who don't affirm homosexuality in the Church anti-gay. You just can't.
Maybe I should have chosen my words better... When I say someone is being anti-gay, I mean that they are being derogatory, unwelcoming and hostile. Moderate Baptists who do not affirm (i.e. say homosexuality is not a sin) homosexuality but yet are welcoming in the fact that they aren't going to kick gay people out of their churches or tell them things such as "Your going to hell, you fag" are not anti-gay.

Anti-gay is against homosexuals, as persons... which is different than believing homosexuality is a sin but, at the same time, treating homosexuals equally... spiritually, civily, personally and politically.

I hope that clears some things up.
I'm in an interesting position, inasmuch as I currently attend a Lutheran church which is very "gay-friendly". (It's in the Lakeview neighborhood, which hosts Chicago's annual Gay Pride parade.)

I think that the people at that church exhibit some admirable traits (particularly in terms of generosity and compassion for the poor) which conservative churches would do well to emulate. Yet, I strongly disagree with their position on homosexuality, although I've never really confronted anyone there with my disagreement.

(By the way, I don't really consider myself a Lutheran, or a Baptist, or anything else other than a Christian. My loyalty to Christ transcends and overrides my loyalty to any Christian denomination.)

I believe that the acceptance of homosexuality by modern Christian churches constitutes a capitulation to evil, inasmuch as it constitutes acceptance of the inane (and potentially dangerous) argument which claims that people are gay because they are genetically programmed to think and act in a certain way.

I say that such an argument is inane, because there's not a gay person in this world who was ever born as the result of a sexual union between two people of the same gender. Even if one argues that genetic traits sometimes skip a generation or two, the fact is that every single one of your ancestors engaged in heterosexual sex at some point in their lives, or you would not be here today! So logically, it is impossible to inherit homosexuality.

The most that one could logically argue, even if one believed that one could inherit a particular sexual predisposition, would be that one had inherited bisexuality from one's parents and/or ancestors, because any person who has ever had heterosexual sex is (or was at some point) either a practicing heterosexual or a practicing bisexual. Such a person is not a true homosexual, whatever that person may claim.

Last time I checked, though, it wasn't just bisexuals who were using the genetic programming defense. Most people who are 100% gay use that defense as well. Someone needs to enroll such people in a Biology 101 class.

If human cloning ever becomes a reality, maybe there will be some point in the future when a person can logically claim to have inherited true homosexuality, if he or she was cloned from a single individual who was gay, but right now, such a claim is patently ridiculous.

I say that such an argument is dangerous, because the genetic determinism on which such an argument is based is a dangerous philosophy which has the potential to undermine such things as the American justice system.

If all thoughts, and all acts which are but the outward manifestations of those acts, are merely the results of genetic programming, then it makes no sense to hold anyone accountable for anything. (There is no logical reason that I know of for limiting the application of the principle to matters pertaining to sex.) In fact, if the premise of genetic determinism is correct, then holding people accountable for their actions is, by definition, an act of unjust discrimination!

Of course, the premise of genetic determinism, if consistently applied, would also absolve people of responsibility for their discriminatory thoughts and acts! Oddly, though, members of the gay community don't seem to grasp the implications of their own arguments, for they continue to speak disparagingly of people who don't want to buy the package they're selling. This is comparable to the liberal hypocrisy of using "diversity" as a code word which really means "no diversity of thought whatsoever, unless you happen to be a liberal".

The GBC has very good reason to be threatened by the gay rights agenda, because this conflict is ultimately about much more than sex. Acceptance of the "genetic programming" theory advanced by most gay rights activists has the potential to undermine the very concept of sin.

Sin, by definition, is an act of the will. Eliminate the concept of free will, and you have for all practical purposes eliminated the concept of sin as well. And if there is no such thing as real sin, then we have no need for a real Savior. Therefore, this is no peripheral issue, this is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.

Should the Christian church show love to gay people? Absolutely. But true love speaks the truth, even when people do not want to hear it. It is not loving to support and encourage delusional and self-destructive thinking.

I believe that gay people should be welcome to visit and attend our churches, the same as any other people who are struggling with sin in their lives. The church undermines its own cause when it treats sinners in an unloving manner.

But the question of whether or not churches should ordain or marry gay people is an entirely separate matter. This goes beyond acceptance of people in spite of their sin, and becomes a matter of endorsement! Yet the gay rights movement has made it clear that it will settle for nothing less.

The problem is that many gay people have defined Christian love in such a way that they cannot grasp the idea that it's possible for Christians to love them without simultaneously condoning and implicitly endorsing their sin. This is because they have erroneously defined their own identities primarily in terms of their sexual orientation.

I find that odd, because even though I am a heterosexual, I do not find my identity in the fact that I'm straight. My identity is found in the fact that I'm an adopted child of the King of Kings.

I, too, believe in "soul freedom". But consider this: It isn't just conservative Christians who use intimidation to prevent people from thinking from themselves. Pejorative (and usually inaccurate) terms such as "homophobe" have caused more than a few people to put their minds on hold and ignore the glaring logical fallacies which undergird the gay rights movement.