Moral Contradictions

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Single issue convention

The Associated Baptist Press reports that North Carolina Baptists have passed the strictest rule against homosexuality and "exclude from convention membership any church thought to affirm homosexual behavior."

Oh nice - "thought" to affirm. That sets a nice precedent to substitute truth for accusations.

A Winston-Salem pastor, Nathan Parrish, notes the irony that the convention moved to narrow the definition of cooperating churches while the Convention met under the theme "Cast a wider net".

What really bothered me was ethics professor Dan Heimbach of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a member of the recommending committee, "said that although there are many sins, homosexuality is the one challenging the church."

So, does this mean that divorce, adultery, and domestic abuse are not challenging the church, or at the very least not important? Dr. Dan Bagby, professor of marriage and family life at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond wrote that as a frequent speaker in church, he is aware that:

(a) most Baptist pastors offer no premarital care or counseling to their parishioners; (b) very few Baptist churches require any kind of pre-marital counseling; and (c) most parishioners with whom I am acquainted have no interest in receiving pre-marital counseling (I wrote a book on the subject for pastors).

If we are serious about “protecting marriage” as God intended, why doesn’t someone offer an amendment that would prohibit divorce? That would scare a few more people from taking marriage lightly.

Or, perhaps, offer an amendment that prohibits remarriage? Since both of these are “God’s intention,” why are we not espousing them as state laws to be enforced in Virginia?

I am not saying that homosexuality should not be ignored - rather, I contend that it serves as a smokescreen preventing the church from recognizing true threats to marriage. Another school of thought, to which I agree, argues that a sin is a sin is a sin. Just as Dr. Bagby posits, why shouldn't we start codifying into law decrees against divorce or force all couples into pre-marital counseling?

I don't have any answers to this complex issue, but I'm ready for someone to put forth ideas that don't wreak of hypocrisy and blame passing.


  • Nathan,

    Thanks for the post. I am committed to the SBC. But for the life of me, I do not understand why we continue to be so morally truncated on certain issues. Surely the professor is correct that homosexuality challenges the Church, but with you I remain unsure it is the only challenge or even the chief challenge.

    These actions most certainly will be read by the gay community as demonstrative of hate not love. In addition, were I in a church located in an area where a significant gay population dwelt, I would fear for my denominational hide if ever I attempted to really connect with the neighborhood. After all, someone in my association may "think" I'm affirming homsexuality by ministering to homosexuals.

    Have a great day. With that, I am...


    By Blogger peter lumpkins, at Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:34:00 AM  

  • Is it not possible that the church is being challenged in this area because it is in need of being challenged?

    Maybe our community has some things to teach about the meaning of marriage that would be beneficial to all.

    -David, Equality Loudoun

    By Blogger David Weintraub, at Wednesday, November 15, 2006 2:32:00 PM  

  • When my arm heals, I will blog a series of biblical and theological arguments for full inclusion and equality in the church for GLBT folks.

    By Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, at Friday, November 17, 2006 1:58:00 PM  

  • I hesitated to respond to this post, as it seems primarily aimed at the Baptist faith. As a member of a different fellowship, I thought it best not to stick my nose where it wasn't wanted.

    However, I realize that the topic crosses all denominational lines. This is a topic that we are all facing. So, my remarks are not aimed so much to Baptists as they are to all fellowships, mine included.

    Michael stated he will blog arguments for full inclusion and equality in the Church. I think he really hit it on the head. The Christian message to the gay community has been one of condemnation. Perhaps it is that most Christians suffer from homophobia, and fear and hate those caught up in that lifestyle.

    The problem is that any search of Scripture will turn up God's rejection of the homosexual behavior, but never is there an indication that God rejects the person. Christianity has become more closely associated with judgement than grace. We are defined more by what we do not believe in rather than what we do believe in. And I am afraid that Christianity is becoming tied to closely to other words, such as politics and nation.

    I know many elders and ministers of the Word that are alcoholics and drug addicts. The thing is they no longer drink or abuse drugs. That does not change what they are. They will be "in recovery" the rest of their lives. Yet, the rejection of that sinful behavior qualifies them for full inclusion and equality in the Church.

    I see no Scriptural reason that any homosexual "in recovery" should not also be welcomed into the body fully and equally with the rest of us recovering sinners.

    The Church today faces many challenges, but all of the challenges can be defined in behavioral terms rather than behavioral identities.

    Example. Being married is a behavioral identity. Marriage is not the problem. Some of the behavior within marriage, such as divorce, adultery, and domestic abuse are problems. The Church has always addressed these issues without managing to condemn those who would be identified as married.

    We could reach a lot more people if we just focused on the sin and not the sinner.

    By Blogger Dusty Bogard, at Sunday, November 19, 2006 5:48:00 PM  

  • Dusty, while it may seem counter-intuitive, I hope to present a case that even the traditional interpretation of the "sin" is wrong. I will argue for one sexual ethic for everyone no matter their sexual orientation: Either monogamy or celibacy. This in place of our double standard which denies monogamous same-sex unions and so presents gays and lesbians with only the choice of celibacy or pretending to be heterosexual and entering into a "marriage" for which they are not equipped. I think the "biblical case against homosexuality" is far weaker than most suppose and depends, for the most part, on biased translations.

    By Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, at Sunday, November 19, 2006 7:31:00 PM  

  • Michael, I hope your arm heals quickly. That will be quite a read. Obviously, I am sceptical, but I will do my best to follow your logic.

    By Blogger Dusty Bogard, at Sunday, November 19, 2006 11:49:00 PM  

  • Michael - sorry to hear about your arm. Am looking forward to your essay on sin, celibacy, and monogamy. How is the healing process going?

    By Blogger TRex, at Saturday, December 02, 2006 1:14:00 PM  

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