Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), has voted to remove any opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. By a vote of 61% the church has removed any opposition to ordination of homosexuals for service and to allow the practice of same sex marriage. While a pioneer in this area, Wilshire is not the first Baptist church to do this; nor will they be the last.
Along these same lines, the BGCT has vowed to remove them from being a cooperating member, return any funds sent to them by this church, and will refuse to seat their messengers at the annual meetings. Essentially, they are kicking them out of the convention.
Some have asked whether or not this closes the door of the BGCT from ministering to the homosexual community. Others say that what Wilshire is doing will open up greater avenues of ministry to this disenfranchised community who need the Gospel of Christ. Both of these statements need closer scrutiny. It is true that often in our rhetoric as Baptists that we have been especially harsh in our dealings with the homosexual community. Many of us have made the “Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve” references in our preaching and teaching. We have also been quick to remind them of impending judgement for this behavior and lifestyle; although I have never heard of a SBC church going to the same lengths at the Westboro Baptist Church “God hates fags” circus sideshow.
It is long past time that we look upon the homosexual community with the same compassion as any other group who is caught in the trap of sin. While we are quick to condemn drunkenness and drug abuse, we are also just as quick to help the alcoholic and the addict. We take stands for marriage, but offer divorce recovery classes and reach out to single moms and fatherless children. Baptist are a people of great mercy and have always been for many generations. The very Scripture that we affirm command us no less.
There is a difference between ministering in mercy to those caught in a destructive lifestyle of any sin and degradation and elevating such to leadership positions and endorsement. The Scriptures caution us as to who is worthy of ordination and leadership. Minister to all we can, but be selective to those whom we elevate.
With this in mind, let me go through a few talking points on this matter:
- Sin is sin and it separates us from our relationship and fellowship with God and one another.
- All sin has consequences. Overeating and gluttony is a sin. Murder and abuse are also sins. The consequences are vastly different.
- While all sins are wrong, certain sins have much more dire consequences than others. Lying and murder are both sins. However, I would rather you lie to me than murder me. The consequences are very different.
- The church is called to minister to all, no matter the offense as we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.
- By acknowledging homosexual marriage and allowing those trapped in an unrepentant lifestyle to assume leadership positions, Wilshire has departed from biblical teaching and endorsed behavior that not only is sinful, but destructive to the home and society.
- By their departure from biblical truth, they have deemed that which God says is wrong to be right. Man’s convenient practice now trumps God’s eternal truth.
- Suppose we substitute out a “politically correct” sin such as homosexuality and replace it with one that has more of a social stigma such as “adultery.” I would think that we can all agree that cheating on your spouse if wrong and its destructive path leaves many victims in its wake.
- Would Wilshire now endorse those who practice adultery (openly) as being eligible for leadership positions? What about a church treasurer (maybe even a qualified CPA) who has a criminal record for theft? What about an alcoholic who shows up to teach his Sunday School class intoxicated? What about a man who is an abusive husband and father showing up for worship with his family in tow covered in bruises and bandages? Would the church still practice love as they define it and allow those who are guilty of unrepentant lifestyles to rise to leadership positions in the church?
- Some would argue that there is a difference between sins that are criminal acts perpetrated against the innocent and those who have little choice with whom they fall in love. Again, it comes down to what the Scripture says; not what man has to say. If you take the Bible as the word of God, then you must take what it says about homosexuality seriously.
- God’s call to salvation has always been “whosoever will.” God’s call for service and leadership is different. Specific requirements and disqualifications as reflected in Holy Scripture must be followed. Failure to do so places any church outside of the clear teaching and authority of the Bible.
The first pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church was a man I once met. His name was Dr. Hubor Drumwright. I met him while a student in 1981 at Ouachita Baptist University. He had just left his academic post at Southwestern Seminary where he served as Dean of Theology to become Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. I recall Dr. Drumwrite as an incredible scholar, a gifted orator, and a humble man with a gentle spirit. These rare qualities left a great impression on this unlearned and under educated student. Dr. Drumwright as since gone on to heaven. Looking down, I just wonder what he might say of his former pastorate. While that causes me caution, I also wonder that the Lord Himself might say of Wilshire Baptist Church.