Just when you thought it was safe to go into the desert, a group of pro-gay organizations, zeroing in on the upcoming SBC Convention and gasping for public attention, is demanding an apology from the SBC “for the harm its teachings are causing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.”
Or, rather, please don’t.
A coalition composed of The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Believe OutLoud, Faith in America , GetEQUAL, Soulforce and Truth Wins Out plans to present a petition during the Convention, asking the SBC to end the “insidious bigotry that has been wrapped in the cloak of faith” and “apologize for the immense harm they’ve done to our community.”
The petition should be met with a commitment to pray for the members of these groups and the many they lead astray. No apologies are in order, but our hearts should respond to their brokenness. What an opportunity to show love and grace . . . and a commitment to our beliefs and the hope that endures for wholeness.
Our response to the same-sex strugglers among us is often flawed and hurtful, but it is improving. Despite individuals lacking wisdom and certain ill-equipped congregations, the Southern Baptist Convention remains one of the brighter hopes that Biblical truth will not be discarded in regard to God’s intent for sexuality. We may have a lot to learn about how to share that truth, but no apology is necessary for staying true to God’s Word. While it might be said that sometimes we deliver the Word with the force of a hammer, the damage of a lie in the interest of peace, would be devoid of compassion and would constitute a total lack of care and concern for those who struggle for freedom.
While several other main denominations have thrown in the towel and surrendered truth under pressure, embracing the pro-gay agenda and giving themselves a cover of false compassion, the SBC has grappled with this issue with a more mature attitude – – for the most part – seeking ways to remain true to what God tells us in His word: not to endorse sin, but to always love. The Task Force established by SBC is still strong and more churches should take advantage of the materials and the training provided. We can share the truth with those who want to free themselves from the repetitive and addictive cycle into which homosexual temptation often leads. The more we know, the more we can show . . . the way out.
The petition is a typical cry for attention.
“We call on the Southern Baptist Convention to stop misusing the Bible to promote religion-based bigotry and start recognizing the enormous pain and suffering caused by its mistreatment of LGBT people, particularly vulnerable youth,” said Dr. Jack McKinney, a former Southern Baptist minister and spokesperson for Faith in America.
If anything, the petition should create an urgency for SBC churches to make a greater effort to educate pastors, leaders and members on how to minister to people who struggle with homosexuality. Our members need to know how to move beyond Leviticus and into I Corinthians. Less abomination; greater grace.
As I write this, I am attending the Exodus Freedom Conference at Ridgecrest, where hundreds of men and women are sharing in the truth of God’s grace for the sexually broken, where healing will take place, lives will change and families will be restored. In just a few days, I’ll be at the SBC Convention myself, helping the SBC Task Force distribute information to SBC members to help them minister to the homosexual community, offering hope and healing, not harm. In both of these places, the motivation is love and the hope is for the acceptance of grace and the beginning of healing. My hope is that the members who attend in Phoenix will not let the hububb over the petition distract them from the efforts of the Task force to equip them with tools to share the truth. Please come by booth 128.
No apologies necessary.
(Thom Hunter is a Southern Baptist who struggled for many years with homosexuality. He chronicles his long journey to freedom and his hope for the church’s role in restoring others in Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do.)