Monday, June 22, 2009

The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee has voted to cease its relationship with Broadway Baptist Church

This was posted on the Baptist Press website a few hours ago. Comments in italics are mine.

Southern Baptist EC recommends ceasing relationship with church over homosexuality
Posted on Jun 22, 2009 by Michael Foust
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--
The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee recommended in a unanimous vote Monday afternoon that the denomination cease its relationship with Broadway Baptist Church, a Fort Worth, Texas, congregation that has been the source of controversy over its stance on homosexuality.

The Executive Committee's recommendation will be considered by SBC messengers during the annual meeting Tuesday or Wednesday.

I know people whose parents wouldn't allow them to go to movies, because movies were "sinful".

At issue is whether the church is in violation of Article III of the SBC Constitution, which states that churches "which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior" are not in friendly cooperation. Broadway Baptist has approximately five open homosexual members, including two male couples, according to church leaders. Some of the homosexuals serve on church committees.

You may have heard of a dominoes game called "42". Baptists used to view card games as sinful. A couple of Texas kids were busted playing Whist back in 1887, and were punished by their parents. The parents didn't have any problem with dominoes, so the kids invented the game of 42.

The controversy over the church began last year when the question arose as to whether the homosexual couples should be pictured in a church directory. In the end, the church voted 294-182 to publish a directory without family portraits but with candid shots of members involved in various ministries and activities. The Executive Committee got involved after a messenger at the '08 SBC annual meeting made a motion that the convention declare Broadway Baptist not to be "in friendly cooperation" with the denomination. The motion was referred to the Executive Committee.

One of my grandmothers loved to play cards, especially Solitaire. This was back in the 1930's, when preachers went door to door, visiting their "flocks". My grandmother always wore an apron when she played solitaire. That way, if the preacher walked up on the porch and looked in through the screen door (this was pre-air conditioning), she could immediately rake all the cards from the table into her apron.

Various Executive Committee workgroups and subcommittees studied the issue during their September and February meetings but delayed action to further study the issue. Although members of Broadway Baptist appeared at the February meeting, none appeared at Monday's meeting. Some members of the workgroup and subcommittee said in February they would welcome a statement from the church on homosexuality so as to clarify its position on the issue. The church, though, chose not to pass any such statement.

Dancing used to be forbidden at Baptist universities. At Baylor University (in Texas), the ban wasn't lifted until 1996. When Baylor's president danced with his wife, it made the New York Times.
Stephen Wilson, a member of the Executive Committee and vice president for academic affairs at Mid-Continent University, emphasized to Baptist Press that the denomination encourages churches to reach out to people struggling with homosexuality. The issue with Broadway Baptist, though, is over a church allowing members who are homosexual and unrepentant.

When I was in college, I worked in at least one church that wouldn't allow divorced people to have their 2nd marriages performed in the church. The Bible is fairly clear on the issue of divorce.
So people would re-marry elsewhere, and then join the church. Dunno why the wanted to do so under those terms.

"If churches are ministering to homosexuals, they are doing nothing more than what our own convention's task force has asked us to do," Wilson told Baptist Press. "But in Broadway's case … the church was in effect saying that it was OK to have members who are open homosexuals."

Texas used to have "Blue Laws" - an elaborate legal code prohibiting certain items from being sold on Sundays. The intent was to shut down all commerce on Sundays, a clear violation of church/state separation, and in 2009 there are still a few remaining Sabbath prohibitions aimed at keeping the day semi-holy.
In 2009, there's not a Luby's Cafeteria in North America that doesn't have a customer surge immediately after church on Sundays.

The Executive Committee's recommendation says that the committee "recommends that the cooperative relationship between the Convention and the church cease, and that the church's messengers not be seated, until such time as the church unambiguously demonstrates its friendly cooperation with the Convention under Article III."

When Broadway Baptist Church built its magnificent French Gothic-style sanctuary in the 1950's, someone decided to portray the Seven Deadly Sins in the bottom of the east stained glass window. Seven is an odd number; therefore they needed another sin to balance the window. In the 1950's, alcohol was the Baptist 8th deadly sin. So along with the pig of gluttony, the fires of lust, the peacock of pride, etc., there is a bottle of bourbon (?) and a shot glass.

From casual observation in the year 2009, I only know three members of Broadway Baptist Church who do not drink at all. The rest of us wouldn't have turned down any of the wine at The Last Supper.

Wilson noted that some outside observers criticized the Executive Committee for delaying action at two previous meetings. He, though, said he had no regrets and that "it has always been our hope there could be reconciliation."

In the Baptist churches where I grew up, women weren't allowed to be deacons. In most of today's Baptist churches....oh, wait.....never mind. (Broadway has women deacons, BTW.)

"This was not a rush to judgment. We actually wanted -- from the bottom of my heart -- for this to be resolved by the local church where the convention wouldn't have to be involved in any way," said Wilson, who serves as chairman of a workgroup that studied the issue. "… I think [in February] there was a feeling that maybe this could be solved without having to go through the step that we had to do today."

That church where I worked during college had a minister that I respected a lot. But he once told me that he didn't approve of any contemporary or pop-style music in church because its roots were in .... Africa.

The church's interim pastor, Charles Johnson, appeared before an Executive Committee workgroup at February's meeting. Since then, the church has called a new pastor, Brent Beasley.
I used to live next door to an old guy named Mr. Nichols who came to Texas in a wagon train in the late 1800's. Fascinating old man. He mowed his own yard until I took over the job. He would never let me mow his yard (at no charge) on Sundays. He said "it just didn't look right". Many of you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Prior to the February meeting, the church sent a letter to the Executive Committee, which stated in part: "Broadway has never taken any church action to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior. Broadway Baptist Church considers itself to be in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention and has every intention of remaining so." It further stated, "While we extend Christian hospitality to everyone -- including homosexuals -- we do not endorse, approve, or affirm homosexual behavior."

But Wilson said the church's actions ran counter to what it claimed in the letter.

I remember when the Family Christian Stores retail chain decided to open for business on Sundays. The press release claimed that with so many churches operating their in-house bookstores on Sundays, they had to dishonor the Sabbath day in order to survive. Or something like that.

"[I]t was more from what they were actually doing in practice where the conflict was," Wilson said. "While they didn't officially endorse it, they were allowing members and also people in leadership that were homosexual."

I'm old enough to remember preachers who occasionally spoke about the old-time Calvinist doctrine of Infant Damnation. That is, if you have a child, even an infant, who dies without accepting Jesus as savior, the child goes to hell forever. (Mark Twain once quipped that the weather was "hotter than the Presbyterian Hell for dead babies".) Then some wimp invented an idea called "the age of accountability", a doctrine that gave the kid a free pass into heaven if he or she died young. I don't hear much about Infant Damnation any more.

David Lowrie, pastor of First Baptist Church in Canyon, Texas, and president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, told BP he had hoped Broadway Baptist would do more to make clear it opposes homosexuality. He said he had discussions with church leaders and that his involvement was "more as a pastor than as the president" of the BGCT. Lowrie said he told church leadership "that they needed to take a step beyond just making a public declaration" in a letter.

Baptists used to have another doctrine called "the autonomy of the local church". It meant that each church answered only to God and no one else. I haven't heard much in the last few weeks about the autonomy of the local church.

"They needed to actually express those convictions in some practical way," he said. "They, for whatever reason, weren't able to do that. … I felt that there were things that they could have done to minister to those within their church fellowship that struggled with those issues and other issues."

I know some of the gay members of Broadway Baptist Church. I don't think they struggle any longer with the way that God, or heredity, or environment, made them. They seem reasonably content with it. That's just my opinion, and no one else's. I've intentionally highlighted the word "struggle" in this post. It's almost like the author can't admit there are people who are "homosexual", the way other people are redheaded or left-handed. He has to say THOSE WHO STRUGGLE WITH HOMOSEXUALITY. Not "homosexuals".

He said he thought a ministry within the church to help people with "unhealthy lifestyles" would have helped clarify the matter.

Within the gay and lesbian community, these are called "re-closeting ministries". I think that's one of the funniest phrases I've ever heard.

The pastor who led the church during the church directory controversy -- Brett Younger -- resigned in June 2008 to take a position at McAfee School of Theology in Georgia. He left the church after a vote to oust him failed, 68-32 percent. But the desire by some to remove Younger had less to do with the issue of homosexuality and more to do with a host of other issues, church members said.

None of these issues concerned playing cards, going to movies, dancing, alcohol, remembering the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy, divorce, or infant damnation.

Younger seemingly approved of the acceptance of homosexuality in church life. He delivered a sermon Dec. 2, 2007, explaining both sides of the debate over whether homosexuality is a sin. In the end, he said, God's people will "serve together in the unity of God's diversity."

A damning statement if I ever heard one. As if God tolerates anything like diversity. God's people, and God's doctrines, are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Always have been the same, and always will be the same.

Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. And in 20 years, he's going to be embarrassed by this article.

7 comments:

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Great post. The straw that broke this ex-Baptist's back was when my old church's pastor gave a sermon in which he said that gays were not welcome at this church (to a smattering of applause). I left that day and never looked back.

So, to your church's disassociation with the SBC, I say, "Good riddance to bad rubbish!" Look at it as a blessing. I think Broadway looks to me to be the 'Rosa Parks of Baptist Churches'. Way to go guys!

Now, some of your asides reminded me of an old joke...

Q:Why don't Southern Baptist men have sex with their mistresses while standing up?

A:Why, if someone sees them, they might think they're dancing!

Emily's Opinionfest said...

Absolutely fascinating, and well-written!

fembuttx said...

Since you are no longer a Southern Baptist, you can drink in public? Wait...Hmm, you already did that...I swear I have seen you dance before....And I know for a fact you play solitaire on your computer....

Were you in fact ever a Southern Baptist?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

TLG,
I've got a few other jokes for you along the same line. See you at the next Tarrant County Libertarian Meetup.

Emily,
Awwwww....Shucks. Glad to have you in the neighborhood.

Fem,
Well....technically, Broadway still gives $$$ to the Southern Baptists, so....

Flee said...

Things like this reafirm that I believe in God it's organized religion I have a problem with!

Browncoat Libertarian said...

"Baptists used to have another doctrine called 'the autonomy of the local church' "...

Didn't the United States of America once have a similar concept, i.e. States Rights?

Anonymous said...

Another Baptist joke/observation/truth:

The only thing 2 Baptists agree on is the amount of money the 3rd one should tithe.