A church in California has been ousted from the Southern Baptist Convention after embracing a vague policy not to denounce LGBT people.
Earlier this year, Danny Cortez (below), the pastor at the New Heart Community Church, gave a sermon called “Why I Changed My Mind on Homosexuality” that sparked discussion among congregants about the church’s stance on LGBT people. They put the issue to a vote, ultimately deciding to take a step toward LGBT-inclusiveness (we wrote about the vote in much more detail here):
Congregants eventually agreed to become a “third way” church, meaning individual members may still believe homosexuality is morally wrong, but they and church leadership will not condemn the LGBT community.
As far as church stances on homosexuality goes, this is on the positive side of the spectrum, but it’s hardly a sweeping declaration welcoming LGBT brothers and sisters into the community. But even the most lukewarm of pro-gay sentiments was enough to outrage the Southern Baptist community.
Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, was one of the strongest voices:
“There is no third way on this issue,” Mohler wrote in a blog post blasting New Heart’s decision. “Several years ago, I made that argument and was assailed by many on the left as being ‘reductionistically binary.’ But, the issue is binary. A church will recognize same-sex relationships, or it will not. A congregation will teach a biblical position on the sinfulness of same-sex acts, or it will affirm same-sex behaviors as morally acceptable. Ministers will perform same-sex ceremonies, or they will not.”
That was written months ago, and the SBC has decided they agree. SBC president Ronnie Floyd said the act wasn’t due to lack of compassion, but because New Heart had “rejected Southern Baptist conventions.”
Without opposition, the EC voted Tuesday (Sept. 23) to declare that New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., “does not presently meet the definition of a cooperating church under Article III [of the SBC Constitution], and that messengers from the church should not be seated until such time as the Convention determines that the church has unambiguously demonstrated its friendly cooperation with the Convention as defined in the Convention’s constitution.” …
“[New Heart has] walked away from us as Southern Baptists,” Floyd said. “We have not walked away from them. So it is with compassion that I would appeal to them to reconsider their decision, mostly their position related to the Word of God on homosexuality.”
Oh, and don’t forget: This certainly isn’t about homophobia. Nope, not at all:
[Executive Committee] President Frank S. Page emphasized that Southern Baptists love homosexuals and want them to repent and trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
“This action does not reflect a lack of love for homosexuals,” Page told BP. “We love all people, including homosexuals. But when you love someone, you tell them the truth about their actions. By its action on behalf of the convention, the Executive Committee is telling New Heart that its failure to condemn homosexuality breaks the heart of God. We’re praying that the church will repent.”
Honestly, good for the church. A convention that can’t bring itself to even tolerate difference, let alone accept it, doesn’t sound like a spiritually healthy place to be.