SBC homosexuality stance unchanged; media reports wrong
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The Southern Baptist Convention did not change its stance on homosexuality or homosexuals during its annual meeting in Nashville, SBC ethicist Richard Land said.
Some national media sources reported that Southern Baptists modified their stance on homosexuality during their June 21-22 sessions. “Baptists change approach on gays” was the headline in a front page article in the Nashville Tennessean. The article opened by suggesting the SBC “appears to have taken a step back from its hard-line stance on homosexuality.”
The media speculation may have stemmed from such factors as:
-- Messengers in Nashville dropping the SBC’s boycott of The Disney Company, eight years after calling for the economic action in describing the entertainment conglomerate as “increasingly promoting immoral ideologies such as homosexuality, infidelity, and adultery.”
-- A resolution calling on parents and churches to “investigate diligently the curricula, textbooks, and programs in our community schools,” but stopping short of specifically calling on churches to investigate schools for pro-homosexual curricula or clubs or urging Christians to pull their children from public schools where such viewpoints are being presented as “an acceptable ‘lifestyle’” -- points that were advocated in a well-publicized proposal submitted to the SBC’s Resolutions Committee in advance of the convention.
-- The report by the convention’s task force on homosexuality, which presented a video that included former homosexuals talking about their past. “Homosexuality is not a choice. I did not choose these feelings,” former homosexual Mike Haley, now a Focus on the Family staff member, said on the video, while Alan Chambers, executive director of Exodus International, a ministry to those in the homosexual lifestyle, said, “I did not decide out of life’s big buffet that I was going to be gay. I didn’t choose it; I didn’t want it; I didn’t ask for it.”
Land, however, said anyone who sees the actions on Disney and local education and the task force report on ministry to homosexuals as indicating the SBC has altered its stance on homosexuality is mistaken.
Southern Baptists remain centered on the biblically based truth that people in the homosexual lifestyle, like anyone in sin, need God’s grace to leave that lifestyle behind, said Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Homosexuality “is not inborn,” Land emphasized in an interview, echoing comments made during the video.
“Homosexuality is a choice that is influenced by many factors,” the SBC leader added.
“One of the dirty, little secrets of the homosexual movement is that a significant majority of adult male homosexuals were introduced into the homosexual lifestyle by molestation when they were children,” Land said, noting that many lesbians are in the homosexual lifestyle because of “male sexual abuse when they were children.”
“This is not even a controversial statement, except within the homosexual and lesbian community who don’t want to admit it,” Land continued.
The task force’s video, “How can we help?” is directed at churches seeking ways to reach out to those in the homosexual community, Land said, noting the video can be seen at www.faithandfamily.com and purchased from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission by calling toll-free 1-800-475-9127.
“Who among us knows how we would respond if our first sexual experience was being molested by an adult male homosexual when we were 10 years old?” Land asked, adding, “Fortunately I don’t have to answer that question because I wasn’t. I don’t how I would respond to that.
“But what we do know is that homosexuality is not innate and that homosexuality can be overcome,” Land said, noting that was the emphasis of the task force presentation. Nothing in the report was suggesting that Southern Baptists are backing away from what the Bible’s stance on the issue, he said. The video shown during the task force’s presentation to the SBC featured former homosexuals talking about how they came out of the homosexual lifestyle and about Christians’ responses to them while they were in the lifestyle.
“Like any sin, we have choices to make, but those choices are influenced,” Land said.
“Rape is a crime of violence; many men who rape do so because of hatred of women. They hate women because of something that was done to them in the past,” Land said, asking, “Does that relieve them of responsibility? No. Does it help us to understand why they express their sin in that particular way? Yes.”
Condemnation of homosexuals is not a scriptural response, Land said. “Christians loving homosexuals without accepting their lifestyle is the way we can be most helpful in helping homosexuals to be liberated from that lifestyle,” he said.
During the task force presentation, Land stated that many in the culture are confused about “God’s gift of sexuality” and, for some, the “confusion is beginning at a very early age.”
“Too many people in authority and in positions of influence in the media are sending the wrong messages about sexuality,” he said, noting that children are the “most vulnerable and impacted” by these messages.
“In their desperate search for connection and self-worth, there are young men and women surrendering to the sexual confusion they feel and are perceiving around them in the culture and are turning to homosexuality and lesbianism,” he said.
“Homosexuality is not just something people do,” Land said. “Homosexuals are convinced that their homosexuality is part of who they are.
“We must come to a place where we understand that homosexuality is a symptom of deeper influences that result in sexual attractions for people of the same sex,” he continued.
It is vitally important that Christians share “the truth of God’s love” with these individuals; God has a plan for their lives, and it is up to Christians to help those in the homosexual lifestyle to understand that fact, Land said. “We must provide them with places of safe haven where God can work His miracle of grace and healing in the lives.”
The eight-member task force on ministry to homosexuals is chaired by James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and the ERLC’s Land. It was formed after the 2001 SBC annual meeting in New Orleans when messengers approved a motion requesting that the SBC “establish a task force to inform, educate and encourage our people to be proactive and redemptive in reaching out to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions.”
The task force on ministry to homosexuals has developed resources on the Internet to aid in ministry to the hurting, Land said, pointing individuals to www.lifeway.com/thewayout and www.faithandfamily.com.