Homosexuality and Baptist churches

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Describing the Baptist view on homosexuality is difficult due to the multitude of Baptist organizations, each with a slightly different doctrinal statement. The issue is further compounded by the large number of autonomous Independent Baptist churches which are not part of an organization and have their own doctrinal statements and beliefs.

This article will attempt to cover basic beliefs on both sides of the issue.

Basic beliefs[edit]

As with most issues, there is a diversity of views of members of Baptist churches on homosexuality. However, the majority of established Baptist churches condemn homosexual behavior. Those Baptists who hold that homosexuality is sinful also teach that homosexual sin can be forgiven through Christ if repentance is shown.

Nevertheless, Baptists generally believe that homosexuality must be an issue that is approached with compassion and love. Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, emphasizes that: "Our response to persons involved in homosexuality must be marked by genuine compassion. But a central task of genuine compassion is telling the truth, and the Bible reveals a true message we must convey. Those seeking to contort and subvert the Bible’s message are not responding to homosexuals with compassion. To lie is never compassionate — and their lie leads unto death." [1]

A relatively small, albeit growing, number of Baptists and congregations are open to the acceptance of homosexual relationships.[2][3]

Al Sharpton, a Baptist minister and Civil rights leader, during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 said that asking whether gays or lesbians should be able to get married was insulting: "That's like saying you give blacks, or whites, or Latinos the right to shack up – but not get married [...] It's like asking 'do I support black marriage or white marriage'. . . . The inference of the question is that gays are not like other human beings".[4]

Positions of churches[edit]

Several organizations and denominations of Baptist churches have issued statements and resolutions about homosexuality.

Conservative position[edit]

  • The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Baptist denomination globally with around 16 million members (mainly in the United States), has issued several resolutions in which it rejects homosexuality as a lifestyle and refers to it as a "manifestation of a depraved nature", "a perversion of divine standards and as a violation of nature and natural affections" and "an abomination in the eyes of God."[5] It opposes same-sex marriages and equivalent unions.[6] The Convention has urged churches not to show any approval of homosexuality.[7] The Convention however also holds that "while the Bible condemns such practice as sin, it also teaches forgiveness and transformation, upon repentance, through Jesus Christ our Lord."[8]
  • Within the American Baptist Churches USA, a mainline American Baptist denomination of around 1.4 million members, there has been a variety of understandings on homosexuality. The convention holds "that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." It also opposes same sex marriage. It advocates dialogue on the issue. Some individual congregations, however, hold contrary views.[9]

Neutral position[edit]

  • The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the second largest Baptist church globally and predominantly African-American, holds no official view on homosexuality, leaving this issue to individual congregations. They state however that a majority of their member churches would hold that homosexuality is not a legitimate expression of God's will and would be opposed to ordaining active homosexuals or lesbians for any type of ministry in their church.[10]
  • The Baptist Union of Great Britain with 140,000 individuals holds a nuanced view. It says that same sex couples "should not suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation", while affirming that Christians who believe that same sex relationships are wrong should not be forced to compromise on what they believe as a tenet of their faith.[11]
  • The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a relatively small American-based network of Baptist churches, does not have an official policy on homosexuality (or other social issues). However it does not allow the expenditure of funds of the organization on the advocacy of homosexuality or the hiring of staff members who are active homosexuals.[12]

Liberal position[edit]

  • The Network of Baptists affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians is a small UK network of Baptists who seek to support lesbians and gay men and people concerned about their sexuality in the church.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.albertmohler.com/documents/HomosexualityBible.pdf
  2. ^ a b The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
  3. ^ Network of Baptists affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians
  4. ^ Sharpton Chides Black Churches Over Homophobia, Gay Marriage, Dyana Bagby, Houston Voice, January 24, 2006
  5. ^ Resolution On Homosexuality June 1988 on sbc.net
  6. ^ On Same-Sex Marriage June 2003 on sbc.net
  7. ^ Resolution On Homosexuality June 1976 on sbc.net
  8. ^ Resolution On Homosexuality June 1985 on sbc.net]
  9. ^ "American Baptist Churches USA: Responses/Actions pertaining homosexuality" on abc-usa.org.
  10. ^ FAQ on nationalbaptist.com[dead link]
  11. ^ Issues raised by the Equality Act (sexual orientation on baptist.org.uk
  12. ^ "CBF organizational policy on homosexuality" on thefellowship.info
  13. ^ Statement on Same Sex Marriage April 17, 2004 on allianceofbaptists.org
  • New Testament Bible. 1 Timothy 1:9 (NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV)