Many know that the origins of the Southern Baptist Convention are tied in with slavery and the Civil Rights movement. The Convention has come a long way in rectifying its divisive views toward slavery and segregation, and now boasts its first black president. However, the convention wasted no time in starting down a new path of discrimination. The day after Rev. Fred Luter Jr. was elected, the Convention passed a resolution stating,
We deny that the effort to legalize ‘same-sex marriage’ qualifies as a civil rights issue since homosexuality does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender.
Judgmental at heart
At the heart of this resolution lies an assumption that homosexuality is a behavior, or more specifically, a choice. As a choice, the Convention feels homosexuality should not be afforded the same protection under the Civil Rights Act as those who would be discriminated against based on race or sex. We see Jesus breaking down similar judgments and preconceptions in Scripture. In John 9, Jesus gives a blind man sight. While doing this, the disciples want to know what sin has caused this man to be blind, for it was common belief that physical illness was the result of God’s disfavor with a person or his family. Jesus corrects this misguided theology and teaches that this man was born blind and now God’s glory could be shown through healing. There is no connection with anyone’s sin or conscious choice. The blind and the leprous would be outcast from society, lower class citizens, because people associated their condition with their assumed sinfulness. Jesus taught something different. What if this new resolution is of similar stock as the preconceptions Jesus debunked?
Troubles in the texts
We have to take a look at the “proof texts” that the Convention is levying against homosexuality and understand their context and meaning relative to the cultures in which they were written. This is a painful task, and sometimes very difficult for one with strong feelings toward the issues discussed. For proper exegesis one must allow the text to speak for itself, illuminate itself, and interpret itself. The less difficult method of Scripture study, eisegesis, is experienced when we bring our preconceptions into the reading of Scripture. For example: Ben believes that eating red meat is dangerous for one’s health. He has spent hours studying and researching and truly believes that red meat is not healthy to consume regularly. When Ben comes across the book of Leviticus and the dietary restrictions, he brings all of his research, knowledge and preconceptions about red meat into his study. Therefore, he might read from the text that red meat is unhealthy and to be avoided by all people strictly for health reasons. This would be a misinterpretation of the Levitical Code, which understands that blood contains the essence of life, and contact with blood would render someone ritually unclean. Therefore red meat should be avoided if possible. We must be careful that we are not bringing our traditions and preconceptions to the Scripture, and that instead we are letting Scripture interpret itself in its own cultural context. Following soon will be a brief paper I have written addressing each of the texts thought to be against homosexuality and gay marriage. I look forward to sharing it with you.
I would like to leave the readers with a thought. Never once did Jesus institutionalize His teachings. Meaning, never once did Jesus try to legislate His morality in secular law. Never once did Jesus coerce someone in to accepting His Truth. Regardless of our beliefs, do we honor Him by legislating morality, reducing some to second-class citizens, and ultimately ensuring our own morals are upheld on pain of retribution from a secular organization? I fear we do not.
Respectfully submitted in the Love of Christ Jesus,