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 states, “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 a 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.