What a remarkable idea

The Southern Baptist Convention has a new leader with a truly astonishing new concept:

Christians often say “love the sinner, hate the sin” when expressing their stance on homosexuality. But the new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention wants to offer something different.

“Why don’t we love the homosexual and hate OUR sin?” said Georgia pastor Johnny M. Hunt as he cited Jay Strack, founder of Student Leadership University.

Why that would be like admitting that nobody’s perfect and that we ought to be tolerant of other people’s differences! Can this really be coming out of the Southern Baptist Convention?

Hunt was elected last week to lead the largest Protestant denomination in the country. His election by nearly 53 percent of the votes of Southern Baptist messengers, or delegates, reflected a tide-turning moment for the denomination as it has begun to move away from bantering and toward encouragement.

(Aside: “away from bantering“? The SBC is cutting back on light, playful repartee?)

“There seemed to be … less of what we’re fighting against and more of what we all stand for,” said Sam Rainer, a pastor and president of Rainer Research, in his latest blog post, as he reflected on last week’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The 16-million member convention is growing its ministry to help those in the gay and lesbian lifestyle and train churches in how to respond to homosexuality. Bob Stith, who heads SBC’s Ministry to Homosexuals Task Force, says the ministry has received “tremendous support” from the denominational leadership. But he’s having some trouble with the local SBC churches.

This is a common problem among Bible-believing institutions. In order to cope effectively with the real world, you have to make certain accommodations to reality itself. This inevitably turns out to involve increasing liberalism and tolerance, and less reliance on superstition and dogma. Unfortunately, that tends to provoke the yokels the institution needs for its financial and material support. In this case, however, the SBC shouldn’t have too much to worry about, as their newfound “tolerance” is merely bait to lure in gays so they can be converted and convicted about their “sinful lifestyle.”

“I think the Christian faith has not done as good a job as we ought to of reacting redemptively toward people who are caught in the web of the homosexual lifestyle,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, during an informal dialogue at the annual meeting. “These people are not beyond the grace of God and they need the grace of God. We need to reach out to them.”

While reaching out, Southern Baptists continue to stand firm on the stance that homosexual behavior is a sin.

A recent survey by LifeWay Research showed that 100 percent of SBC pastors said they believe homosexual behavior is sinful. Among a small sample of SBC messengers at the annual meeting in Indianapolis, 91 percent agreed.

So while the SBC is making a teensy step in the right direction, this isn’t really good news for gays. The SBC is responding to news that homophobic Christians are giving Christianity a bad name, and they’re trying to change their packaging to make themselves look more appealing. Inside the box, however, the contents are still just the same.

Their unified stance was also reflected when they overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that rejected the California Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The resolution calls Southern Baptists to support a ballot initiative defending traditional marriage, encourages pastors to speak “strongly, prophetically and redemptively concerning the sinful nature of homosexuality,” and reaffirms the denomination’s “consistent support of the biblical definition of marriage as an exclusive union between a man and a woman.”

Bottom line: they want people to think they’re more loving and tolerant of gays, even as they work behind the scenes to pass laws and constitutional amendments intended to prevent gays (Christian or not) from having the freedoms that are such a vital part of the “life, liberty, and pursuite of happiness” our founding fathers hailed as “inalienable rights.”

And they wonder why outsiders question their sincerity and honesty.

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