By Lonnie Wilkey
Almost any bill considered by local, state and national government bodies is scrutinized to see if it is “gay friendly.” A case in point happened a few weeks ago in Tennessee. Tennessee legislators approved a law that would protect Christian adoption agencies or religious-based adoption agencies from placing children in homes that would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” Gov. Bill Lee later signed the bill into law.
Gov. Lee has been criticized and chastised for signing the bill by pro-homosexual rights activists. That’s not surprising. He also is being lauded by pro-traditional family supporters. When you take a stand, one side or the other will be angry.
I applaud our governor for standing up for values he believes and supports. He was under tremendous pressure from those who said Tennessee would suffer financially from the decision because businesses and major sporting events would shun the city. Will it? That remains to be seen. Business is business. If a business feels like it will profit from locating to Nashville, or anywhere in Tennessee for that matter, it will consider making the move.
For those who say the state is denying homosexual couples the opportunity to adopt children, that is false, says Greg McCoy, president of Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes. He told the Baptist and Reflector recently that the bill does not keep homosexuals from adopting children. The bill simply “protects faith-based adoption agencies from going against their beliefs.”
Culture dictates that religious beliefs don’t matter when it comes to some issues such as abortion or homosexual/transgender rights, etc.
And, churches are now in the center of cultural controversies.
The Tennessean reported on Jan. 27 that the membership of Northside United Methodist Church in Jackson voted on Jan. 26 to leave the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church, as a denomination, is supportive of same-sex marriage and LGBT issues.
In a press release, lead pastor Don Thrasher was quoted, “As the UMC has become so divided and is heading toward a split, we simply decided that God is calling us to remove ourselves from the ongoing conflict and focus on Christ’s mission for us to share God’s love with all people and lead people to be followers of Jesus Christ.
“We are a people with a deep love for Scripture and the long held biblical traditions of the church.”
According to The Tennessean article, 93.8 percent of the about 500 members who participated, voted to leave the denomination.
Other UMC churches are facing similar decisions. Stacy Bell, one of my closest friends and a former Baptist deacon, is involved in navigating the small Methodist church he now attends to follow suit and exit the denomination that he strongly feels has strayed from the Bible’s teachings.
He related to me that last year a vote was taken in the denomination on the issue and the conservative side “won,” but Methodist leadership was disappointed in the vote and chose to ignore it. “The Methodists are allowing the minority to rule,” he opined.
One of the issues that Methodist churches face that Southern Baptists do not is the ownership of their property. The local church does not own buildings or the property. The denomination does. Methodists are dealing with developing a method in which churches may retain their property.
Nobody wins in these situations and Christianity gets a “black eye” in the process.
Baptists need to take notice. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and say, “That will never happen in Baptist life.” I pray that it doesn’t, but there are people who have left Baptist churches now because they think some Baptist leaders have become more accepting of the homosexual lifestyle due to information (or misinformation) that is rampant on blogs and websites.
I can’t speak with clarity on what individual Baptists believe or don’t believe, but I am sure of this: The Southern Baptist Convention has never taken a public stand in support of same-sex marriage or a homosexual lifestyle.
So, that brings us back to the question posed in the headline of this column: Will the Southern Baptist Convention Ever Bow to Cultural Pressure?
We won’t as long as we remain faithful to God’s Word. If we deviate from Holy Scripture, we will suffer the consequences and become just another denomination that fell into kingdom irrelevancy. B&R