A Pastoral Response to Same Sex Marriage – Part 1
By Rev. John H. Grant, D. Min., Pastor
Mt. Zion Missionary
Baptist Church of Asheville, NC
March 27, 2015
I am affiliated with the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors and endorsed a recent letter objecting to same-sex marriage advocates Bishop Yvette Flunder, Delmen Coates and Allan Boesak being invited to preach at our American Baptist College in Nashville.
If we concerned pastors are guilty of “idolatry of the Bible” as Dr. Forest Harris alleges, then what kind of idolatry is he guilty of? Has he elevated as synonymous with truth his opinion and the opinions of those who agree with him? A kind of idolatry of self? Do people like Harris and his allies discredit the Bible because they, in the words of Dr. Ben Carson, “need to remove any authority other than themselves as the arbiter of right and wrong?”
A statement from John R.W. Stott is compelling:
The Scriptures have the content, authority, and power for a proper evangelistic message. … God has clothed His thoughts in words, and there is no way to know Him except by knowing the Scriptures. … We can’t even read each other’s minds, much less what is in the mind of God.
If we are not to discern the mind of God on homosexual conduct from the Bible, where else are we to discern God’s mind on the subject? From the opinions of fallible, vacillating and “evolved” minds like those of Harris or McMickle, or any of the rest of us, or even of our President Obama?
Contrary to Harris’s claim, if anyone has “misappropriated the theology of the National Baptist Convention,” evidence would indicate in this instance that it is he and McMickle. Consider the theology in the Statement of Faith posted on our Convention website:
The Scriptures. We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us, and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions shall be tried.
Every single one of the 18 Articles of Faith posted on our Convention website begins with the affirmation “We believe the Scriptures teach . . .” In light of this affirmation, it is excessively remarkable that Harris would denigrate our embrace of biblical truth, dismiss and relegate it to the ash heaps of history as a “first-century worldview” by which we moderns “can’t be guided and dictated” and from which the more enlightened mortals (as himself) have evolved. I guess we are supposed to evolve beyond Jesus. To his credit, however, Harris does not deny the biblical truth about homosexuality. He just denies that that truth has relevance beyond the first-century.
It is worthy of note that not only do National Baptists have a high regard for Scripture, but so did Jesus:
1.He treated it as fully authoritative. (Matthew 4:1-10; Luke 4:1-12)
2.Praying for His disciples, He asked the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17, NKJV)
3.He taught that it points to him, and that He is its fulfillment. (Matthew 21:42-44; Luke 24:27, 44; Matthew 5:17)
Harris also stated: “It’s tragic these conservative pastors are in opposition to what education ought to be about, to expose students to critical moral thinkers and a broad education.” If anyone believes having Bishop Flunder preach at American Baptist College was about exposing students to critical moral thinkers and broad education, all one has to do is read the transcript of her speech given on Tuesday evening, March 17, 2015 at the Baptist World Center on the campus of American Baptist College, which was posted on a Kingdom Global Strategy blog. Among other things contrary to academia, her speech was effectively and essentially a pep rally promoting sexual behavior which our Convention has historically characterized as perversion.
As a 1979 graduate of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and with all due respect, I am personally embarrassed by our school president’s (McMickle) comments in defense of Harris, including his patronizing insinuation regarding our “biblical and theological standing” and whether any “noted biblical and theological scholars” are among our number. Those promoting the radical homosexual movement often and openly use harsh rhetoric, nasty name-calling, and display blatant intolerance toward others who dare to differ with their more “morally superior” perspectives for the purpose of intimidating or embarrassing them into silence.
To them, anyone who dares to differ with their “more enlightened minds” on this subject has to be displaying disrespect and bigotry, among other similarly disgraceful things. They claim for themselves the virtues of tolerance and open-mindedness while at the same time displaying intolerance and close-mindedness toward perspectives that differ from theirs. In America people with different perspectives are supposed to be able to discuss their differences courteously and respectfully without resorting to personal attacks. It should be about respectful debate, not about accusing others of hate. However, people with weak arguments and inclinations toward one-sided monologue rather than constructive dialogue are notorious for resorting to nasty rhetoric. Erwin W. Lutzer’s words are apropos here:
Ours is a battle that cannot be won by reason, scientific data, or dialogue. The radical homosexual movement that preaches tolerance will not itself tolerate alternate opinions. Everyone must move in lockstep with their agenda—or pay a price.
The price to be paid for reasoned and respectful disagreement is character assassination, demonization, denunciation and vilification as reflected in such words (also used by McMickle) as “ignorance” and “bigotry.” To so label others who disagree with him is very judgmental on his part and represents the virulent vitriol so prevalent today from pro-homosexual activists toward those who take exception to the “sex-style.” His own comments are also self-revealing, indicating guilt of the very kind of intolerance he condemns in others.