Recently, the issue of homosexuality has reappeared, and questions are asked about the position of the Baptist General Convention of Texas related to this issue.
Texas Baptists never have been ambivalent. Local churches and Baptist gatherings clearly have affirmed the biblical definition of marriage is that of a man and a woman committed to each other as companions for life. This is the message of Jesus, the consistent biblical teaching and affirmation of the church throughout the ages.
Marriage is the foundational institution. All other institutions, including the state and the church, are built on this primary foundation. The Bible warns against any action that undermines it. Sexual fulfillment can be found only within this context of total commitment.
In today’s society of sexual exploitation, we are promised fulfillment from sex without commitment, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality and pornography. That which was ordained as an expression of total love and commitment has become an instrument that has brought addiction, destruction and often abuse for women and children.
Unfortunately, the morality of the church too often reflects the attitudes of society. The world has transformed us into its image. In 1 Timothy 3, one of the primary tests for church leadership is the test of the home. If a leader is unfaithful in family responsibilities, that person should not be given congregational responsibilities.
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17, he did not ask for us to be taken out of the world, but he did ask that we be kept from the evil one. How can we be in the world and not of the world?
Is it possible to hate the sin and love the sinner? Jesus did. The “righteous” religious leaders were infuriated (Luke 15) that Jesus allowed “sinners” to hang out with him. He even ate with them. Would the same folks who drew near to Jesus feel comfortable in our churches? Are they anxious to hear what we have to say?
One person who was struggling with a destructive lifestyle was encouraged to go to church. She asked: “Why should I go there? I feel bad enough as it is.”
Is it possible for churches to be welcoming of “sinners” and not affirming? We must. “All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Yet in Ephesians 5:1, we are commanded to be “imitators of God.” And in verse 3, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
I have asked Jim Denison, our BGCT theologian-in-residence, to create a forum for theological conversations concerning some of the key issues facing our churches. What does the Bible say and how does the church respond to issues such as sexual ethics, church discipline, Calvinism and worship?
By this fall, we will begin these conversations at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will invite your comments as well as your suggestions for future discussions.
Randel Everett is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board.