Sunday, September 29, 2019

Homosexuality and the American Baptist Church

Homosexuality in the Baptist Church: Homosexuality is one of the most debated issues among Christians today, regardless of the denomination of their church. Some churches view homosexuality as a sin and have no tolerance for it, while other denominations are more accepting and consider it a non-sin. Even though some denominations have taken a stand on homosexuality, there seems to much discord within the governing bodies of the churches regarding this issue. It has moved from a topic rarely discussed and considered very personal and private, to a mainstream topic of conversation.Although there has been a growing acceptance among certain Christian denominations regarding homosexuals, the American Baptist Church has remained firm in its position towards homosexuality. The American Baptist Churches descended from the Northern Baptist Convention that was founded in 1907. The church has approximately 1. 5 million members and 5800 congregations that are scattered through 34 regions of the United States. The American Baptist Church members are following the century long traditions of soul freedom, which allows the independence of individual members of the church to form their own beliefs.They also support congregational freedom, which allows each church the autonomy to develop its own policies. In order to understand the position that the American Baptist Church takes on homosexuality, it is important to examine their general religious beliefs. According to a website of the First Baptist Church in Scituate, MA , they believe that salvation and eternal life are granted to all those who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They believe that both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are the divinely inspired word of God. The Bible is to be interpreted responsibly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.Baptists hold the Scriptures and the Old and New Testaments as their final authority. This has become the basis for the viewpoint that the American Baptist Church ha s developed on the issue of homosexuality. The American Baptists also have some strong convictions about the type of person they are supposed to be. Again, according to the First Baptist Church website, these include a redeemed person that claims a personal relationship with God, a biblical person that seeks guidance in understanding the Scripture, and a worshipping person that shares an open and public confession of faith.American Baptists are also supposed to be a mission person that invites others to follow Christ and an inclusive person, who embraces different races, ethnicity, and genders, and also accepts that there are individual differences of conviction and theology. This inclusion also covers those who are from a variety of backgrounds and they are to find unity in diversity and diversity in unity. These convictions have become a source of division among some of the member churches within this denomination, as they are supposed to embrace and accept those with individual d ifferences, yet they are not accepting of homosexuals.According to the religious tolerance website, The American Baptist Church has been actively responding to issues pertaining to homosexuality as far back as 1987. In June of 1987, a statement of concern regarding homosexuality was defeated by church delegates at their Biennial Meeting. They decided that â€Å"Scriptures repeatedly depict homosexuality as a social and moral evil and the unrepentant homosexual has no claim to full acceptance in the Christian community. † So at that time, they decided that they just did not want to deal with the issue.Four years later, in June of 1991, the delegates of the Biennial Meeting were forced to deal with the topic of homosexuality again. They adopted a statement that rejected the homosexual lifestyle, homosexual marriage, ordination of homosexual clergy, and the establishment of gay churches and gay caucuses On the other hand, their statement also included that the church should love and minister to the homosexual, but condemn the sin of the practice of homosexuality. They were taking the stance of hate the sin, love the sinner.They also established a Commission on Human Sexuality Resources to provide clarification and guidance for a Christian understanding of God’s gift of sexuality. By June of 1992 the General Board of the American Baptist Church was being pressured by some of their member churches to accept the practice of homosexuality within their denomination. A resolution called â€Å"Homosexuality and the Church†, which identified Gods plan for the fulfillment of sexual union to be one man and one woman in heterosexual, monogamous, and lifelong marriage, was narrowly defeated.The resolution further stated that â€Å"the redeeming love of Christ† is available to practicing homosexuals as it is to all who turn to him in faith and repentance. Then a few months later, in October 1992, the General Board was again approached and was force d to vote regarding the issues of homosexuality in their church. They finally agreed to issue a one sentence standing that was called â€Å"American Baptist Resolution on Homosexuality†. The sentence briefly stated â€Å"We affirm that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. This started the ball rolling and in June of 1993 the General Board next came up with another resolution that was called â€Å"American Baptist Resolution Calling for Dialogue on Human Sexuality†. That resolution states â€Å"that there exists a variety of understandings throughout our denomination on issues of human sexuality such as homosexuality† and encourages discussions regarding those particular issues. American Baptists were also encouraged to seek unity and avoid divisiveness.This resolution might as well have stated â€Å"there exists a variety of misunderstandings† and even though it encouraged discussions, their viewpoint was already establi shed. 1995 was an important year for the American Baptist Churches and their stand on homosexuals. In June 1995, the Granville Baptist Church in Granville, Ohio was expelled from the The Columbus Baptist Association because the church supported full participation of homosexuals. Then in September, the Pacific Southwest Region of the American Baptist Churches, which represented more the 300 churches, began defecting over the issue of homosexuality.The leaders of the region cited underlying issues regarding interpretation of the Scriptures and church discipline. As a result of the defection, The General Board of the American Baptist Churches created a commission â€Å"to find ways to deal constructively with issues around which there has been considerable disagreement. † In other words, they realized that the homosexuality issue was starting to destroy their denomination and they needed to get serious about resolving the problems.After various resolutions, committees, and amend ments over the next ten years, The General Board of the American Baptist Churches finally made some decisions in 2005. At that time they voted to amend their own document â€Å"We Are American Baptists† by adding a statement to the section â€Å"A Biblical People: Who submit to the teaching of Scripture that God’s design for sexual intimacy places it within the context of marriage between one man and one woman, and acknowledge that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Biblical teaching. This represents their final stand on homosexuality, which is that they believe it is wrong and is not in line with the teachings of their church. Although every denomination believes in the Bible as their â€Å"guiding light†, they all interpret it in a different way and can put their own spin on different passages. The American Baptist Church relies on their interpretation of the Bible to support the position that they have taken on homosexuality. There are passag es in the Bible that are known as the â€Å"clobber passages†, because they are used to beat up homosexuals.Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 is a typical passage that is thought to support the anti-gay stance. It states â€Å"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination† (Leviticus 18:22). There is also an important passage in the New Testament that condemns homosexual behavior. â€Å"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their own error. † (Romans 1:24-27). However, later on there is a passa ge about judging others, so therefore you should prepare to be judged – so it is really a contradiction to think that the passage is condemning homosexuals. The arguments that support homosexuality within Christianity are widespread.They include the fact that we are all God’s children and he created us the way he wanted. So if he made some people homosexual, then that was his choice and it should be accepted. The Bible does not really give any straightforward help in guiding Christians regarding the entire problem of homosexuality. It is up to each person to develop their own opinion based upon their knowledge, experiences, and influences of their chosen religion. The ongoing problem between homosexuality and Christianity will probably be around for a long time. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. American Baptist Churches in the USA.Accessed October 14. http. //religioustoleran ce. org_abc1. htm [ 2 ]. American Baptist Beliefs. Accessed October 14. http://firstbaptistcituate. com/americanbaptistbeliefs. aspx [ 3 ]. American Baptist Church. Accessed October 14. http://abcusa. org/LinkClick. aspx? fileticket=iRGq66AgLAU%3d&tabid=199 [ 4 ]. American Baptist Church. Accessed October 14. http://abcusa. org/LinkClick. aspx? fileticket=iRGq66AgLAU%3d&tabid=199 [ 5 ]. American Baptist Church. Accessed October 14. http://abcusa. org/LinkClick. aspx? fileticket=iRGq66AgLAU%3d&tabid=199 [ 6 ]. American Baptist Church. Accessed October 14. ttp://abcusa. org/LinkClick. aspx? fileticket=iRGq66AgLAU%3d&tabid=199 [ 7 ]. American Baptist Church. Accessed October 14. http://abcusa. org/LinkClick. aspx? fileticket=iRGq66AgLAU%3d&tabid=199 [ 8 ]. Moll,, Rob. 2005. â€Å"American Baptist Exodus†. Christianity Today. November 23, 2005 [ 9 ]. American Baptist Church. Accessed October 14. http://abcusa. org/LinkClick. aspx? fileticket=iRGq66AgLAU%3d&tabid=199 [ 10 ]. Hays, Richard. 1991. â€Å"Awaiting the Redemption of Our Bodies†. Sojourners. November 11. P 17-21 [ 11 ]. Hays, Richard. 1991. â€Å"Awaiting the Redemption of Our Bodies†. Sojourners. November 11. P 17-21

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