Southern Baptist leaders are seeking a “softer approach on homosexuality,” reports National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
While noting that “the country’s largest protestant (sic) group … still preaches that marriage can only be between one man and one woman,” NPR points to a recent, vaguely identified meeting of pastors to back up its headline:
The Southern Baptist Convention held a gathering of pastors at its Nashville headquarters in April. For an organization that has previously used opposition to gay marriage as a rallying point, statements here from church leaders, like Kevin Smith of Kentucky, shocked the auditorium of pastors into silence.
“If you spent 20 years and you’ve never said anything about divorce in the church culture, then shut up about gay marriage,” Smith said.
Pastor Jimmy Scroggins of Florida went even further.
“We’re all in agreement that the cultural war is over when it comes to homosexuality, especially when it comes to gay marriage,” Scroggins told the pastors.
A quick aside: As noted previously by GetReligion, Southern Baptists passed a resolution in 2010 on “The Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce,” so Smith isn’t exactly the first Baptist to bring up that subject.
Another quick aside: Did all those “silenced” pastors lose their voices for as long as Zechariah? Otherwise, it would have been nice to hear their direct reaction to what was said.
But back to the main point: Hang on to your keyboards, tablets and smartphones and swallow any coffee or other hot liquids before considering this next broad statement of fact by NPR:
Officially, Southern Baptists aren’t backing down from their belief that homosexuality is sinful. Gays and lesbians are still barred from church membership without first repenting. But Scroggins says they’re sitting in his pews and shouldn’t be the butt of preacher humor. He calls that “redneck theology.”
Does that mean that “unofficially,” Southern Baptists are backing down from their belief that homosexuality in sinful? Seriously, NPR? This story certainly provides no evidence of that dramatic change in doctrine. (I have written about a similar effort in my own fellowship — Churches of Christ — that aims to change approach, not doctrine.)
If Southern Baptist pastors were to tout a more loving approach toward Christian men who struggle with viewing images of naked women online, would NPR write, “Officially, Southern Baptists aren’t backing down from their belief that pornography is sinful.” Or would the difference in tone and doctrine be clear?
Let’s keep reading: