how Baptists ought to disagree
Broadway Baptist in Fort Worth has postponed its vote on whether to include homosexual couples' pictures in its new church directory. Bob Allen at Ethics Daily has good coverage here of a story that is going to become more and more commonplace in moderate Baptist life.
As many are pointing out, what's going on at Broadway will inevitably hurt someone in the end, but I'm glad that the church is dealing with the situation according to the historic Baptist principles of church and soul freedom. Instead of following a dictate from on high, they are discussing the issue and trying to understand what's going on in hopes of figuring out what God would have their congregation do. Allen's story quotes Pastor Brett Younger's sermon in this regard:
"Some of the most committed conservative Christians in our congregation are baffled by this whole episode," Younger said. "They're seeking the best they know how to be faithful to Scripture and follow Jesus. They've been taught all of their lives what the Bible says on this issue, and those who read the Scriptures in a different way don't seem to be taking the Bible seriously. The verses in Leviticus seem straightforward on homosexuality. How can the majority opinion throughout 2,000 years of church history suddenly be wrong? It's hard for these gracious Christians to understand how anyone could disagree."
"But there are other thoughtful Christians who feel differently," he continued. "They are seeking the best they know how to be faithful to Scripture and follow Jesus. They know the Bible has been used to defend polygamy, slavery and the oppression of women. They look at the compassion of Jesus and the way he included everybody, and it seems clear that we should do the same. How can anyone who knows Jesus believe that God condemns people to the way they were born? It's hard for these gracious Christians to understand how anyone could disagree."
"Both sides feel so certain that any real compromise can feel like being asked to give up something close to the center of their faith," Younger said. "Many feel so strongly about this issue that a church directory in which gay couples are pictured together seems dishonest. And others feel just as strongly that a church directory in which gay couples are pictured separately seems dishonest."
Although my understanding of the debate at Broadway is that not all those involved have behaved in such a manner, Younger paints a picture of the way Baptists ought to disagree about issues - in respectful, loving, serious ways. There's no need for slander and anger to control the debate when all parties involved just want to serve God.