There are differences among evangelical churches and scholars regarding a Biblical view of homosexuality per se as well as the resultant stance and practice of a given church. However, nearly all agree that local churches and denominations must grapple with this issue. The following is a statement from one local church regarding this issue.
DECLARATION OF THE MEMBERSHIP OF _______________________________, ____________INDIANA PERTAINING TO THE MATTER OF HOMOSEXUALITY AND SAME-SEX MARRIAGES
The membership of ___ wishes to express and explain its theological stance and church policy regarding this issue in our culture. We do so because institutions and individuals of the Christian faith are increasingly marginalized on this and other matters and we wish to protect our pastoral staff and congregation from being compelled by others to provide services which would be a serious violation of our deeply held beliefs.
1A. Affirmations and Denials
1b. We affirm the Scriptures of the Judeo-Christian tradition (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) are the inspired self-revelation of God and represent his very nature and moral will for his human creations. We deny that the Bible is just another religious book composed by ancient religious sages or zealots who had private or cultural agendas.
2b. We affirm the Scriptures are God’s expression of his moral will for all humanity, in all times and all places. We deny that the Scriptures are the expressions of a situational morality exclusive to ancient Israel and the early church.
3b. We affirm that we accept the Scriptures as our ultimate and infallible authority in all matters related to doctrinal beliefs, personal behaviors, and church practices. Therefore, we seek to live by them and make their message known to all with whom we make contact. We deny that the Scriptures can be subverted or contravened by any modern authority whether social, political or religious.
4b. We affirm that the Scriptures must be interpreted in accordance with the standard and traditional practices that acknowledge historical settings and context as well as standard Hebrew and Greek grammatical practices. We deny all modern attempts to radically alter or otherwise undercut the plain common sense moral/ethical meaning of the text.
5b. We affirm that God created the universe and invested it with natural law(s) both as a way of providentially operating the creation as well as to provide indicators of his moral will. We deny that the universe evolved from nothing and that the moral laws of the universe have (can or should) similarly evolved.
2A. Our Understandings of Relevant Biblical Texts.
1b. Genesis 1:26-27. We believe God created humans uniquely to be in his image (imago dei), meaning that all humans fulfill this image when they employ their humanity in the care and stewardship of the creation. Humans are God’s representatives. Part of this responsibility included procreation for which God gave them differing anatomies appropriate to this purpose. These differing anatomies were the appropriate “match” for physical love-making and for procreation.
2b. Genesis 2:24. We believe a proper expression of human sexuality is between a woman and a man and is the only context in which a biblical “one flesh” relationship is properly achieved. We believe this exclusive male-female relationship was endorsed and affirmed by Jesus Christ (Matt. 19:5-6, Mark 10:6-8, Eph. 5:25-32).
3b. Genesis 3:1-24. We believe in the biblical account of the Fall of humanity wherein Adam and Eve rejected what God had said to them and the sin(s) that resulted from this rejection. We further believe the Bible teaches that the sins of these two have affected the rest of humanity in all the dimensions of individual (physical, psychological, emotional, volitional, and spiritual) and social/cultural (evil that permeates so much of the totality of our existence) life.
4b. Genesis 18-20. We reject modern attempts to explain away God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah as not centrally located in homosexual activities. We accept the confirmation of Jude 7 that God’s judgment was leveled because men pursued “strange flesh,” i.e., flesh of the same gender.
5b. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Contrary to the surrounding cultural milieu in which ancient Israel was founded and existed, homosexuality was prohibited for God’s people as illicit sexual behavior. Homosexual sin was one of many sexual sins.
6b. 1 Samuel 20:16-17 and 2 Samuel 1:26. We reject interpretations of the David-Jonathan narratives as strained attempts to interpret the relationship of these two men as something more than a deep bond that God used to providentially preserve David’s life from the angry attempts of King Saul to assassinate him. We also reject a similarly inventive interpretation of the Ruth-Naomi narrative (Ruth 1).
7b. Romans 1:18-32. We accept the Apostle Paul’s commentary on the horrible effects of the Genesis fall, the primary one being that humans completely rejected God’s interpretation of his creation and developed their own wherein they would stand over God’s interpretation. This was demonstrated in the change of allegiances (worshipped creatures rather than God), a change in their belief system (exchanged God’s revelation for human lies), and turned nature on its head (e.g., engaged in homosexual activities).
3A. Our History and Affiliation
1b. ___________________________________was founded in 1954 as a new church plant. Soon afterward, _____ joined and became an active affiliate of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), a fellowship of churches that desired to distinguish themselves and subsequently separated from the growing theological liberalism of the 1920s and ‘30s.
2b. The GARBC was formally founded in 1933 as a conservative alternative to the liberalism/modernism of the predominant mainline churches of that era. The GARBC has a long tradition of believing and teaching important doctrines relevant to matters related to the moral drift of our country and the role of the church in general and to matters related to human sexuality in particular, for example the inspiration and absolute authority of the Scriptures, the independence and autonomy of the local church, the separation of church and state, the First Amendment of the US Constitution, concern for cultural trends and faith and morals in general and homosexuality in particular, concern for the intrusion of the state into the teaching and practices of the church, the attempts to redefine human sexuality, etc. This history, dating to 1933, can be found in the “Resolutions” passed in annual conventions by the member churches and found attending this document.
4A. Acknowledgements and Caveats
1b. We acknowledge the reality of homoeroticism and homosexual behaviors. This phenomenon has been in existence since the earliest days of human history. However, given God’s revelation on the subject, we cannot find it acceptable.
2b. We acknowledge that humans acquire this disposition in various ways. There is a documented history of androgyny in some people. Gender dysphoria and trans-sexuality are contemporary documented realities. We acknowledge that there may be a variety of contributors to these phenomena, for example, early adolescent developmental factors springing from parent-child relational maladjustments. There is the “introductory factor” when young children are introduced to homosexual activities. Therefore, we affirm that homosexual tendencies may be a learned choice or may be the result of something gone awry in the natural embryological stage of development. From a biblical/theological perspective we believe such realities have emerged from the effects of the Genesis fall (Genesis 3) and therefore, are not morally or ethically acceptable. In any event, whatever the cause of this phenomena, we believe all humans must be self-disciplined and deny themselves sexual expression that goes beyond what God has established, whether heterosexual or homosexual.
3b. We acknowledge our responsibility as a people committed to Christian doctrine and practice to live with integrity and fulfill our Christ-centered mission of evangelism and discipleship and enlarging and perpetuating the Kingdom of Christ. In modern life this brings us into conflict with society’s evolving standards. However, living out our doctrinal beliefs with integrity requires that we must find ways to balance defending the truth of God as we know it with resisting what we consider to be sinful modern cultural trends, balancing respect for all fellow human beings while disagreeing with certain behaviors of some, and balancing Christian grace and compassion with a clearly defined stand on Christian moral/ethical principles.
4b. We acknowledge that discrimination based upon sexual orientation exists in our culture and we do not endorse it in principle. We believe that homosexuals should not be discriminated against in the secular domain and should be accorded all the rights and privileges due them as citizens (e.g., access to housing and non-discriminatory employment practices, the right to pass on estates to whomever they wish, the right to available Federal or State benefits, etc.). However, we also affirm the right of sincere Christian believers to be secure in their long-held theology and practices and that churches, organizations, institutions and individuals should not be forced by Federal, State, or local legislation or social/political coercion to include accommodating homosexuals in our institutions or congregations. Our theology and Christian worldview must have precedence over evolving contemporary social moral norms and practices as these pertain to homosexuality. If homosexual couples desire to be legally married and they reside in states that permit this, there are multiple civil and religious venues available to them.
5b. We do not believe we should be prohibited from speaking to this or any other modern issue with which we find disagreement. Our nation was founded as a liberal democracy and by definition this includes the right to hold differing opinions and have open and uncensored civil public debate without risk to our legal standing as citizens or our tax exempt status as a church. We object to the current effort by the secular culture to label philosophical disagreement as “hate speech.” This is nothing more than an attempt to bully or otherwise intimidate and silence differing opinions. We do not “hate” at ____, but we do disagree theologically and philosophically with some current cultural trends.
5A. Concluding Declaration of Beliefs and Attending Policies
Based on the preceding materials, we believe marriage is best defined as between a man and a woman. Consequently, we cannot endorse the cultural practice of same-sex marriage. Therefore,
- We ask our ordained pastoral staff to not officiate or otherwise participate in an official capacity as a representative of ___ in any homosexual wedding ceremony. [Simple attendance is not construed as “participation”]
- We will not make our facilities available for any wedding ceremonies or receptions for same-sex couples.
- We desire to be a welcoming community. Pending our long-standing membership process (Interview, orientation class, and vote of the membership), membership is available to all single unmarried people who identify as LGBT individuals and who live celibate lifestyles. This is the same expectation we have for single heterosexual individuals.
- However, for the reasons stated in the forgoing materials, membership is not available to same-sex married couples or same-sex co-habiting couples as it is not available to unmarried heterosexual co-habiting couples [The term “couple” is understood to include sexual involvement]. Moreover, we expect all ___ members and constituents to fully respect and comport themselves in accordance with our history, doctrines, values, behaviors and policies.
- We reserve the right to determine the role such people would play in the life of our church. Nevertheless, our membership wishes to be a welcoming place for all and desires to minister to same-sex couples.
- Finally, should any member or non-member constituent be found in violation of our Constitution or Policy Manual, church discipline may be applied according to the established traditions and policies of our church.
Adopted by the membership:
Permission is granted for other churches to use this statement by inserting the name of the church where indicated.