Southern Baptists

Southern Baptist Convention Should Offer Third Way To Affirming Churches

by Danilo Cortez

It’s been almost a year since my church was dismissed from the Southern Baptist Convention. During the dismissal process, I had brought up concerns regarding the inconsistency of our denomination’s application of scripture.

What has been hard for me to hear at this year’s SBC Convention is how they continue to state that Christians must stand firm on the authority of scripture in regards to morality. But I’m afraid that ship sailed a long time ago.

Last year, I had presented before the national executive directors that SBC had been inconsistent with its application of scripture.

The Baptist Faith and Message state, “In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose…all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.” According to SBC theology, remarriage from non-permitted divorce is considered adultery. Yet SBC continues to focus on homosexuality but ignores the problem of adultery.

Back then I had argued that SBC pastors were already officiating re-marriages that were considered adulterous according to SBC theology. And yet, there wasn’t a call to take high moral ground. There wasn’t a Dietrich Bonhoeffer moment to say, “we can’t allow non-permitted remarriages to occur because adultery is an offense to God.” You don’t hear this high moral calling when it’s about straight cisgendered morality. And yet, it is adultery that is destroying families more than anything else. Remarriages continue to remain unchallenged in many SBC churches effectively ignoring “our own sins while pointing out the sins of others.”

Unfortunately, SBC continues to choose which moral issues are appropriate to stand against while turning a blind eye to heterosexual sins.

This inconsistency is a grave mistake.

Albert Mohler told the SBC gathering that “there is no neutrality in attending a wedding. Period.” And yet, many SBC pastors and members continue to ignore their own Baptist Faith and Message as they officiate and sit in attendance on “adulterous” straight weddings. You can’t draw a moral line in the sand on one issue and not the other and claim you have “confessional integrity.”

My point however isn’t to say that we should dismiss churches and pastors who continue to officiate and participate in non-permitted remarriages. SBC ought to be commended for providing a third way space for them and therefore not dismissing them. It is this third way space that ought to be granted towards affirming churches even in the midst of disagreement. There must be consistency in our administration of grace especially in disagreement.

Unfortunately, the focus has been to separate rather than unite. All the while, discrimination continues towards LGBTQ people. In many states, LGBTQ persons can still be fired or refused housing based on their orientation. This injustice is what the church must work together against.

And it is when we are united towards love and justice, that the world will be able to see the presence of Christ through us.

I have no doubt that SBC desires to uphold the authority of Scripture, but we must also be open to being corrected when we don’t.

Photo via flickr user evclpics

Comments (3)

Mary Lou Combs

We all sin and have fallen
We all sin and have fallen short…I, as a divorced woman, continue to maintain a chaste life for 15 years. My husband has remarried and stated “my current wife was God’s plan for my true happiness”. At 58, am I to remain alone for the rest of my life? I believe I was “God’s plan for his to ulimate happiness”. My 4 girls ( all adults), notice he does not even use my name or refer to me as their Mother. My loneliness envelopes me every day and every night. I would not wish this pain on anyone, including my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Christ.

Brian Tolley

Pastor Cortez:
Pastor Cortez:

I have read your article and your brief narrative. I clearly understand you love your child. I doubt had your child robbed a bank you would have loved him/her any less either. The point being that our love for our children is a love that continues even when something done is wrong. I would imagine when I suggested the action of robbing a bank that your first reaction or thought was that’s wrong.

You see the reality is that we are ALL subjective in what we are willing to tolerate or allow. However, our tolerance of sinful men does not equate to tolerance, as you know, of a holy God. All of humanity is under the curse. Whether someone is gay by nature or nurture is not relevant. The reality is that our nature is corrupt as is our nurture being we are sinful creatures as well. To God neither is an acceptable outcome. We all struggle with inner thoughts of anger, covetousness, envy. Just because we may not outwardly manifest it makes it no less true.

You are absolutely correct that the church has allowed the redefinition of marriage and the expansion of it inappropriately. The question needs to be determined then which course it should follow. Should it continue a path that God abhors and compromise or should it turn and correct the error of its ways. Only when we look to God’s standard will we find the truth. We the church have allowed the culture to seep in. It is my opinion that not only should the church NOT expand accepted marriage classifications, it should return the standard to the standard set by Jesus and stop trying to bring Jesus’s standard down to sinful humanities level.

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