Go 'extra mile' when witnessing to gay friends, SBC president says
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Due to a negative view by the homosexual community of many Christians, believers must go the "extra mile" when witnessing to their homosexual friends and neighbors, Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright says.
Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., made the comments in light of his June 15 meeting with a coalition of homosexual leaders and their allies at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix. Because of the media attention the meeting received, Baptist Press asked Wright for his follow-up thoughts.
The face-to-face meeting, Wright said, was fruitful.
"I think it's always useful when we can sit down with anyone and share our faith in Christ," Wright said. "When people are opposed to the Word of God on certain issues, we still have to trust God's Word is true and deal with that tension."
The hateful rhetoric of some professing believers has tarnished the reputation of other Christians, Wright said.
"There's already that perception there, so we have to go the extra mile in showing the love of Christ while standing firm for the truthfulness of God's Word," Wright said. "It's not only upholding God's Word, but there's always that spirit of Jesus that we want to seek to communicate. When we feel passionately that something is wrong, we are still called to love that person who is ignoring what God's Word says. It's not always easy to do."
Current-day issues such as same-sex "marriage" can make such discussions difficult, Wright said. Yet if Christians maintain a loving tone, don't argue, and stand firm on God's Word, they'll be in the "position God wants," Wright said.
"We hopefully can help the person realize that 'what you're disagreeing with is what God's Word says, so really your argument is with God,'" Wright said. "We don't want to just give our opinion, because then it's just their opinion versus our opinion about what is right and wrong. But when we keep the focus on Scripture, then it's just up to them -- just like it is for us -- to decide whether to trust Scripture and obey Scripture."
It's important for Christians to be ready to answer some of the more common current-day objections to historical Christianity, Wright noted.
"People say that Jesus doesn't speak to homosexuality or gay marriage. But it couldn't be clearer than Matthew 19:4-5," Wright said. "He speaks very specifically there about both. Marriage is not for one man and four women, as you see in the Old Testament. Even though that was culturally accepted, it was never God's will. It's also not for two men or two women. It's for one man and one woman, for life."
The June 15 meeting was Wright's idea; he did not have to meet with the coalition, which included representatives of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Faith in America and Truth Wins Out. But he said he felt it was imperative to do so. The meeting was cordial the entire time.
"I was hoping they would see the love of Christ and recognize that, yes, we're going to have a different viewpoint but it is really related to the authority of God's Word," he said. "They have decided to have a different authority."
Toward that end, Wright said, "It's important for Christians to be in dialogue with homosexual friends."
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Read the initial Baptist Press story about the meeting between Wright and the coalition: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=35600