Larry Ray Hafley

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Contending for the Faith

Baptist Homosexual Dilemma

Under the headline, "Pro-homosexual Church Withdraws from CBF," the following article appeared, August 17, 2001.

    "University Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, has notified the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) that they are pulling out of the national group because of its policy against homosexuals, according to a report in The American-Statesman.

    "The CBF's policy prohibits the hiring of non-celibate gays and lesbians, bars them from missionary work and does not allow the organization to give money to homosexual groups or causes.

    "'We most deeply regret the condemning message you have sent in the name of Christ to all gay and lesbian persons by your action,' wrote the Rev. Larry Bethune in a letter from the church Aug. 16. 'Because it is God's call for our congregation to minister with gay and lesbian Baptist Christians and their families, we cannot in good conscience support an organization which discriminates against our brothers and sisters in Christ ... any more than we could do so if the CBF discriminated on the basis of race or gender,' Bethune wrote.

    "This isn't the first scrape University Baptist has had over its policy of welcoming homosexuals. The Austin Baptist Association voted to oust the church in 1995 after University Baptist ordained a gay deacon. The Baptist General Convention of Texas' executive committee voted to end its affiliation with University Baptist in 1998. University Baptist is a member of the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., a Baptist denomination that continues to debate whether to take a stand on churches that allow non-celibate homosexual members."

Candid Comments

First, how does the average Baptist regard the spiritual status of "the Rev. Larry Bethune" and the "University Baptist Church in Austin"? Are those who endorse and sanction homosexual behavior, such as they do, still in a saved state before God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)?

It will not do for a Baptist to say that he does not want to answer the question lest he be "judgmental." No, he cannot take that route. He says homosexuality is wrong. That is a judgment. Baptists "judge" that homosexuals are practicing sin. Now, are their brethren, such as "the Rev. Larry Bethune," who equate the acceptance of homosexuals with the acceptance of blacks and other minorities, approved in the sight of God (Ephesians 4:17-19)? When they fellowship the homosexual and withdraw from their brethren who stand for the truth against that sin, are those erring Baptists in a saved condition before God? Since the average Baptist has "judged" the homosexual as being contrary to Scripture, surely he can tell us what he thinks of the spiritual condition of his brethren who support and sustain the sin. Since he has "judged" that the homosexual is in sin, he cannot say that he will not answer a question about his brethren who accept it lest he be "judgmental."

Since "The Austin Baptist Association" voted to "oust" "University Baptist" because they ordained a "gay deacon," we know that Baptists cannot plead that they are "non-judgmental." So, we want to know if a thing is bad enough to get a church kicked out of "The Austin Baptist Association," is it bad enough to keep one from heaven (1 Peter 2:11)? Some Baptist needs to tell us.

Baptists believe in "once saved, always saved." Because of that, they do not believe their sinful brethren are "fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4). Indeed, Baptists not only cannot condemn those like "the Rev." who welcomes the homosexual brother, neither can they condemn a saved individual who turns to the sin. To do so would be to deny their doctrine of "once in grace, always in grace."

Second, if I were a black Baptist, I think I would resent comparing the acceptance of homosexuals to the acceptance of others without respect to "race or gender," as did "the Rev." Bethune. Is the acceptance of a racial minority on the same moral and spiritual level as the acceptance of homosexuals (Cf. the principles of Romans 1:24-32 with James 2:1-5)? Perhaps a black Baptist ought to address that issue.

Third, what shall be said of pedophiles (sex with children)? Does "the Rev." Bethune "discriminate" against them by refusing them fellowship in his church? Does he see it as "God's call for our congregation to minister with gay and lesbian and pedophile Baptist Christians and their families" on the same basis as he accepts others without respect to "race or gender"? If not, is he guilty of "discrimination" when he refuses the impenitent, practicing pedophile? He says that to refuse to fellowship homosexuals is to be guilty of "condemning" them. Is the same true of him? Is he "condemning" the pedophile when he rejects him?

If "The Rev." could appoint a "gay deacon," perhaps he could anoint a pedophilic presbyter. Let him tell us whether or not he could and why.

Fourth, are "Baptist Christians" who turn to pedophilia still saved when they do so?

Fifth, what are "Baptist Christians"? Where could I find one in the New Testament? Whether heterosexual or homosexual, where could we find one in the Bible?

Sixth, again we see the danger of ecclesiastical organizations. "The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship" has a "policy against homosexuals." This time their "policy" was correct as they dictated it to the churches, but what right do they have to exercise this power over the churches? Indeed, where is such an arrangement, such a fellowship of churches, found in the New Testament (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2)? The churches of the New Testament were never bound in such "church-hood" associations. They were not linked together to set standards of moral and spiritual conduct and to issue policy statements for the churches. If they were, where is the organizational apparatus of a combination of churches to be found? What are its qualifications? Who decides who shall oversee and lead? "It is voluntary," you say? Well, what Scriptures say anything about a "voluntary" confederation or association of churches (Colossians 3:17)?

There was no combination or amalgamation of churches in the New Testament. Neither were there Baptist Churches (nor Baptist Christians) in the first century, either.

Concluding Comments

It is to be hoped that "honest and good hearts" will be made to reflect on the conflict and confusion created by denominational doctrines and organizations. The pure plan and pattern of the New Testament, when faithfully followed, will never lead Christians into such contradictory positions as have been unmasked above. Surely, that ought to cause one so ensnared to pause and ponder the cause and course of the system of religion which he has espoused.

Ironically, a few who agree that homosexual acts are sinful will criticize our remarks. Somehow, in the minds of some, the exposure of evil and the pointing out of the logical inconsistencies of religious error is the greatest sin. However, since Ephesians 5:11 says that we are "to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them," we shall neither apologize nor be much dismayed by those who want us to do so.

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