From ‘I Do’ to Disfellowship: Why the Southern Baptists Kicked this Church Out Over a Same-Sex Wedding

From ‘I Do’ to Disfellowship: Why the Southern Baptists Kicked this Church Out Over a Same-Sex Wedding February 23, 2015
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Photo Courtesy of Denise DeMonia

Today, it is my honor to host the Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson, the first Southern Baptist minister (and perhaps only) to perform a legal same-sex wedding. And in Alabama no less! Having grown up in the Huntsville metro area, I was thrilled to see her standing for justice and equality in my hometown. Unfortunately, the Southern Baptist Convention didn’t quite feel the same way … 

On February 9, I became the first Southern Baptist in the state of Alabama to officiate at a same sex wedding. Two Baptist women, Yashinari Effinger and Adrian Thomas, wanted a Baptist minister to officiate at their ceremony. I received the invitation, was available, and agreed.

It was to be the lead wedding at an outdoor celebration called Wedding Week by its organizers, scheduled to begin the day a Federal court’s reversal of the ban on same sex marriage in the state took effect. It drew national and international media attention.

The day after the wedding, the Alabama Baptist Convention issued a statement that any minister officiating at a same sex wedding risked his church being disfellowshipped. This means that although the church remains Baptist, it is kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention [SBC].

However, since I am an unpaid minister with an honorific title, Minister to the Community, the representatives of the two state organizations wanted a stronger case. They discovered that in 2013 the Senior Minister, David B. Freeman, had preached a sermon in which he said the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.

The Madison Baptist Association [MBA] then notified my church, Weatherly Heights Baptist, that it was considering breaking ties with us. The MBA is the association through which my church belongs to the SBC. David Freeman and I met with Jeff Pike and other representatives of the MBA.

In the amicable meeting, there was talk of “one man one woman” and “biblical marriage” but the pivotal issue was Freeman’s stance. They had one question: will you change your  position? Freeman said he could not. The representatives’ conclusion was that his endorsement of homosexuality and gay marriage was contrary to the Association’s Constitution and By-Laws. The upshot is that on March 5, the SBC will disfellowship Weatherly Heights Baptist Church.

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Photo Courtesy of Steven Babin

The Constitutional issue was the “presenting” issue. The real issues were the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, “biblical marriage”, and a cultural phobia of LGBT persons.

The fundamentalist takeover of the SBC is hardly incidental to our being disfellowshipped. There was a time when being a Baptist meant this: the only source of authority is Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible, the individual believer’s soul competency, the priesthood of all believers, and the autonomy of the local church. This meant that no Baptist could tell another Baptist what to believe nor tell any Baptist church how to conduct itself.

All that disappeared with the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC. Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler in their now infamous 1967 meeting in New Orleans’ Cafe Du Monde developed a strategy for it. The strategy included such things as requiring seminary professors to take oaths that they believed certain things, coercing missionaries to focus on winning converts, and the subordination of women.

It culminated in the 2002 Baptist Faith and Message. In it, the Bible and the SBC were elevated above Jesus Christ. The SBC was the ultimate authority. No longer were Baptists to work out our beliefs based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, we were to work out our beliefs based on the dictates of the SBC. Gone were the sole authority of Jesus Christ, soul competency, the priesthood of believers, and local church autonomy.

The takeover of the SBC, I suspect, has a relationship to the relatively recent invention of a concept called “biblical marriage”. The day after I officiated at the Effinger – Thomas wedding, Alabama SBC officials Rick Lance and Travis Coleman, Jr. issued a statement titled “Stand Strong For Biblical Marriage”. Without mentioning me by name, they said that any minister who performed a same sex marriage was “clearly outside biblical teachings about human sexuality and marriage” and that her church could no longer be considered in “friendly cooperation” with Southern Baptists.

Qualified Bible scholars such as Dr. Jennifer Bird have pointed out that the notion of one man and one woman united by bonds of love simply does not exist in the Bible. Let me emphasize the “united by love” part which is the basis for modern Western marriages. It is true that we see the unions of one man and one woman in Genesis, but those marriages were arranged and virginity was compulsory upon penalty of stoning.

It would be my guess that Lance, Coleman, and the representatives of the MBA are not intentionally endorsing stoning for pre-marital loss of virginity. Nor, I suspect, are they intentionally endorsing the other types of marriages that appear in the Bible: a man, his wife, and his concubines or a man, his wife, and his wife’s slaves or a man and multiple wives or a woman forced to marry her dead husband’s brother or a virgin forced to marry her rapist or a prisoner of war forced to marry her captor or a slave owner assigning a woman slave to a male slave. Yet these are what biblical marriages actually look like. Not one man and one woman united by love.

11014732_892041477483363_1293415042_nThen there is Matthew’s ideal of a man castrating himself to advance the Kingdom of Heaven. Or being born a eunuch. To my knowledge, I’ve never met a man who has castrated himself for the Kingdom. Nor is there any way that one could choose to be born a eunuch, not even if the SBC were to demand it. By the same token no one chooses to be born straight, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgendered. Its that simple.

The real issues are denominational power politics and American cultural uneasiness with gender and sexual realities. “Biblical marriage” is a cover up and a smoke screen.

I cannot tell anyone else what to believe. But I can say that I will never knowingly follow the dictates of the SBC or my culture. Instead, I will to my best to follow Jesus Christ.
Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson is Minister to the Community at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church. She is the Director of The Second Cooler, an award-winning migrant justice documentary narrated by Martin Sheen. You can find her on Twitter @Ellin Jimmerson and on Facebook at The Second Cooler Fan Page.

 

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  • Malcolm Swall

    Same sex marriage changes marriage like women voting changed voting. Same right, more enfranchised.

  • Nancy Morris

    The Southern Baptist Convention, like most xtian “conglomerates,” has become irrelevant to modern life. They just haven’t figured it out yet. That’s why religion is dying off, and none too soon IMHO.

  • Allah

    Getting kicked out of an anti-Christian organization like the SBC is a sign that one is on a righteous path.

    • I think we can disagree without perpetuating the same mistake of intellectually kicking folks out of the Christian umbrella.

      • Allah

        I think any organization that was not only pro-slavery, but founded on a pro-slavery agenda, is anti-Christian by definition. Not to mention the fact that despite having spent 30 years in SBC churches all over Dixie I never saw one that did anything to feed the hungry or help the poor.

      • The SBC has formally repented about slavery, for what it’s worth. Most (white) denominations in American were pro-slavery at some point. Institutional sins are rampant among most white-dominated denominations.

        What I am saying is that calling a denomination anti-Christian in response to that denomination shunning a church is something of a parallel process of disfellowshipping and demonization.

      • Allah

        They formally repented for slavery 130 years after the civil war. Have they repented for supporting Jim Crow yet? Have they repented for fighting against anti-lynching laws? When an organization is as demonstrably anti-Christian as the SBC (and we haven’t even gotten to the part about their ongoing and notorious idolatry) stating the obvious shouldn’t be a problem.

      • Chuck Pace

        Mr., Mrs, or Ms. Guest, I shouldn’t even acknowledge your rant. Your anonymity is no surprise based on the (lack of) content. Anonymous letters and posts belong in File 13.

      • Andrew Dowling

        Many SBC churches were also pro-segregation until the 1970s. SBC theology has long revolved around justifying anything that supports the prevailing forces of power prevalent in the Southeast.

      • Guthrum

        The SBC had a large contingent of volunteers and funds going to the aid of the Hurricane Sandy victims. There are many SBC churches involved heavily in helping the hungry, well cobstruction in Africa, and helping out in Habitat. And that just to start. See the book “Radical” by author David Platt. A new change is sweeping the church. The focus is on the people outside.
        And look at the all important mission work: taking the life saving Gospel to the people. That is the priority: bringing the lost to salvation through faith in Jesus.

      • Hope

        Given that the old testament specifically and explicityly endorses slavery and that Jesus said “slaves, obey your masters”, I would say that being pro-slavery is very Christian indeed.

  • Lemmy Caution

    Christian denominations continue to splinter further and further apart. 30,000 some denominations now. Pass the popcorn.

    • Guthrum

      The reason for the “splintering” that you mention is that the main line denominations have left the doctrine of Biblical authority and embraced psuedo psychology, moral relativism, situation ethics, and a warm fuzzy “everyone is okay” theology. As a result, millions have left, going to independent churches that preach and teach the Bible. Thousands of churches have left and formed new associations. Look at the Episcopal church: led a person who denies basic Bible doctrines such as salvation only through faith in Jesus. The Presbyterian Church – US has gotten so far out in left field that it has lost millions of members and dollars: it is on life support and soon will no longer exist. The members and churches would not accept the top down decisions that were made in stacked, fixed voting assemblies that approved social statements and doctrines that went against Biblical teachings. The ELCA followed them over the cliff. The UMC will be next if they let a small handful hijack the organization like has happened in the other denominations.
      Stick to the Bible.

      • Lemmy Caution

        “is that the main line denominations have left the doctrine of Biblical authority and embraced psuedo psychology, moral relativism, situation ethics, and a warm fuzzy “everyone is okay” theology. ”

        And that is just your opinion. Every denomination claims biblical authority. Their claim is as equal as yours.

        “Stick to the Bible.”

        Even the most leftist leaning congregation imaginable could claim they ‘stick to the bible’ and use it to justify their theology. Churches interpreting the bible to fit their social or political agendas isn’t exactly a new phenomena.

      • Tim Bushong

        No, they don’t. “The Bible” is usually interpreted through the grid of whatever cultural phenom is happening at the time, and of course it cuts both ways.

        It’s an idolatrous (and easily given into) temptation to think that Jesus affirms whatever it is that we think is good, rather than according to God’s immutable law.

      • Lemmy Caution

        “It’s an idolatrous (and easily given into) temptation to think that Jesus affirms whatever it is that we think is good, rather than according to God’s immutable law.”

        It’s also POPULAR. You won’t find a church that doesn’t believe that Jesus affirms their stances. They also attest that they are in line with “God’s immutable law” (whatever that is).

      • Tim Bushong

        “You won’t find a church that doesn’t believe that Jesus affirms their stances.”

        Unless of course that Church is one in which the Word is always held up as a mirror, in the position of correcting that local Church’s idolatry. It’s called ‘reformation’.

        And it’s nonsense to put words into the mouths of Churches who have long abandoned any pretense of following God’s Law. They would gladly say that they no longer follow it–so why do tou insist that they would say otherwise?

      • Lemmy Caution

        “They would gladly say that they no longer follow it”

        Nope. They would use the bible to justify each and every position. It’s quite easy to do.

        Find me one Christian Church that claims they proudly aren’t following “God’s law”. I’ll wait.

      • Tim Bushong

        The United Church of Christ, the PCUSA, The Episcopal Church, the ELCA, much of the United Methodist Church…

        It’s not the bible that they’re taking their cues from.

      • Lemmy Caution

        That’s just a list of churches and your opinion.

        SHOW ME where they, as an organized church, are proudly claiming that they don’t follow the Bible.

        Every church claims biblical authority. Every church claims their social stances are in Jesus’ name. Every church uses the Bible.

        Just because YOU disagree with them doesn’t mean they are wrong. Their stances are JUST as biblically sound as yours. Mostly because the bible is just so FLEXIBLE. You can use it to justify almost anything from slavery to gay marriage to straight only marriage to whatever you like. It’s quite easy.

      • Sell all you have and give the proceeds to the poor.

        Let’s see how you “stick to the Bible.”

      • Andrew Dowling

        SBC baptisms are at their lowest point in over 30 years . . I guess Al Mohler isn’t conservative enough?

      • Guthrum

        Yes, the mighty SBC is indeed set for a big fall off for sure: membership numbers have been level for the last few years and the average age has crept up. So the numbers decline will really start to accelerate in the next ten years for the SBC unless they make some changes. The problem they have is an overall image of being in the past: traditional looking buildings, same style of worship, and a powerful top down organization that is too political. When I watch church services on television it is usually easy to see those that are in decline by looking at the views of the choir and back view of the congregation. If gray hair predominates, that church is in trouble. I talked to a member of SB church a while back. He told of a recent leadership conference he attended. Years ago when he went he was in his 20’s. Everyone else was and the talk was about new programs, new ideas, and growing. He said now that most people there were 50+ and they talked about their empty buildings. The SBC’s steadfast opposition to legalized killing of unborn children is admirable in contrast to other denominations who now openly support legal abortion and try to mask it as a rights issue. Sad.
        The SBC still has the numbers to be around a long time. Not so for the Presbyterian Church US, the Episcopal Church, and the ELCA. They are in steep decline and will not survive. The UMC has a chance to avoid that if they stick to the Bible and not allow their organization to be taken over by a vocal few.
        The Presbyterian Church US in a shocking move recently voted to re-define marriage as between any people who love each other ! Sad ! Totally anti-Biblical.
        That once influential organization left the Bible some time ago and has paid the price in losses of members by the millions, members who built the churches and funded the denomination leadership only to have their views and beliefs ignored.

  • John

    Take heart. You are on the right side of history and God will bless you for your courage. Those who continue to oppose equality will be remembered by history as nothing more than “moral cowards and specious yahoos” (to quote a brilliant editorial in our state paper last weekend concerning the on-going discrimination against gay people in this state).

    I’d encourage your church to affiliate with the CBF, if not already connected. This group of “outcasts” from the SBC are continuing to do great things around the world in a cooperative way without the restraints and handcuffs of the SBC. I was a seminary student during the Paige-Pressler coup, and I was and still am sick to the heart about what they have done to the SBC. Personally, I jumped the fence completely and left the Baptists for Disciples where the whole issue is moot, but we previously attended a CBF church and found it marvelously open and accepting, with the added benefit of having a wonderful traditional outlook on worship.

    • Guthrum

      Well, this is another example of top heavy denominations forcing their views and opinions on the churches. Churches that provide the funding to support the administrations with their high salaries and huge headquarters. The other side and predominant situation are the denominations that, years ago, left the great tradition of Biblical authority. They, like the SBC, also vote in stacked, rigged assemblies passing social statements and policies that go against holy scripture and the opinions of the church members. Then the leaders wonder why people are leaving by the millions and churches break away to form new organizations or become independent. Just look at the staggering losses in terms of members, churches, and funding over the last ten years: Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church US, and Evangeical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). These groups moved away from Biblical authority several years ago. The current numbers portend that those denominations will be all but gone in five years. SBC uses the same tactics to control their churches, in spite of having at one time the honored tradition of churches being independent. That is one factor in the huge growth of that denomination. But their membership has been level for a few years and for the first time has started a decline, which will accelerate because of a high percentage of older members. But with their huge membership, they will be around for a while.
      The lesson here is that decision making and power must start and stay at the church level.

  • Eve Fisher

    Wonderful post. “Biblical marriage” is a modern fabrication, based on a Victorian conflation of romantic love, patriarchy, and sexual purity. Throughout most of history, most marriages (1) were arranged by parents, guardians, or lords, without considering little things like the partners’ preferences; (2) were performed by the parties themselves; no minister was required or used (exceptions for royalty and aristocracy, i.e., when there was enough money to make witnesses matter) until the 16th century; (3) assumed more-or-less official polygamy on the part of the (wealthy) male. (BTW, this was worldwide, not just in Europe.) It was about property and tribes, not the individuals actually involved in the marriage. The SBC is making false arguments against the very basis of modern marriage: love between two people, who want to be together for the rest of their lives. There is no legitimate argument that can be made against that.

  • All4EqualityinMichigan

    Its 2015 for Christ Sakes everyone deserves happiness., #loveislove

  • KEB

    Thank you, Dr. Jimmerson, for your convictions and your resolve to change the Baptist church from the inside. I’m from Huntsville and a former member of some of the large Baptist churches close to Weatherly Heights. As a child in the ’60s, I used to wonder why the Southern Baptist churches (and SBC) did not support the Civil Rights Movement. Their flimsy excuses were couched in theological terminology that, at the time, I assumed I was too young to understand. Well, they’re at it again, and this time, I’m not going along for the ride. It took until 1995 for Southern Baptist officials to formally apologize for the church’s support of slavery and segregation. How many decades will it be until they apologize for their opposition to same-sex marriage? I am heterosexual, and I have yet to hear an argument that convinces me that same-sex marriage devalues traditional marriage. I don’t feel threatened in the least. As for the “one man – one woman Biblical model,” I believe you (and others) have thoroughly debunked that myth. During segregation, the church firmly opposed “co-mingling” of the races. We would somehow be tainted if we went to the same schools, swimming pools, parks, or restaurants as people of color. Those decrees seem absurd now, as will the admonishments against same-sex marriage to the generations yet to come. When the SBC opposed the Civil Rights Movement during the last century, they squandered an epic opportunity to lead their members in showing Christ’s love for all people, especially those who were different from themselves. While the churchmembers gave offerings to support missionaries in Aftrica, the SBC used its political influence, as well as our tithes, to keep the South segregated. These days, the irony is agonizingly clear. Once again, we’re at a crossroad. All Christians must evaluate their understanding of Christ’s teachings about love and true equality for people who we see as “different,” those who Christ pointed out are our neighbors; those who we’re supposed to love “as ourselves.” The SBC is currently missing another opportunity to lead its members to love as Christ loved us. Thank you again for publically standing on the right side of history and demonstrating God’s love in our battered world. I have severed my ties with the Southern Baptist church, but people like you give me hope that the church can be saved.

    • JayBird

      If you believe in Jesus over the Bible as far as your authority, where do you read the words of Jesus other than the Bible? What was the meaning of His words when he quoted the OT, “you have heard it said that He created them male and female” ? It all started with Adam, Eve was made from Adam. They are complementary sex not opposite sex. Natural completion comes from a union of one male and one female following the design of the Creator. Anything else is unnatural according to Genesis, et al.

      • Andrew Dowling

        Actually there are tons of sayings of Jesus quoted by the Patristics that aren’t in the NT. Christians for centuries learned about Jesus through oral tradition, not the Bible.

      • Dr.Whom

        Hmm. Have you READ Genesis 1? Please allow me to quote to you the first telling in the Bible of the creation of our species. I’m using the KJV, which is a lousy rotten unreliable translation but greatly respected by many people who respect the Bible (which I do, but not as history).

        26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
        27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
        28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

        Let me repeat that:
        >>>in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.<<<

        The only way that makes sense is that MAN AND WOMAN ARE BOTH, EQUALLY, IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, NEITHER GREATER THAN THE OTHER.

        Oh, and please don't start arguing over v.27 "man" and "his own". Hebrew, like English, has no genderless third person pronouns.

      • Chuck Pace

        Hmm. How are babies made? Seems like God did make the first couple male and female for a purpose.

      • Dr.Whom

        So what if She did? (See above about pronouns.) Just because there can only be one first couple, does that mean that there can only ever be that same kind? I don’t think so. And what about all the polygynous Fathers? Abraham had a wife and a concubine, or was it two of each, and Solomon with HOW big a harem? Somehow I never hear those coming up in these discussions.

      • Chuck Pace

        Good point. You can actually make a better (though still failing) case for heterosexual polygamy in the Bible than homosexuality in any way, shape or form.

      • Dr.Whom

        Ye-es…
        How about this? Pasted from a Yahoo! search (sorry for the absurdly long URL):
        https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A0LEViSLEPZU1GcAZB43nIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByMG04Z2o2BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw–?qid=20070809102633AAWkwGN

        ======

        2 Samuel 1:26 (New International Version)
        New International Version (NIV)
        Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

        26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
        you were very dear to me.
        Your love for me was wonderful,
        more wonderful than that of women

        Granted they also pursued women…Bathsheba, etc…But, love being more wonderful than that of women…obviously implies homosexuality.

        And, please do not say this is “brotherly” love….”brotherly” love is quite different than that spoken of here….

        Your thoughts?

        Of course i would not love a bird, horse, etc…with a love stronger than that I would have for a woman…

        But, I do love a man with a love stronger than that for a woman…

        Why do fundies have such a hard time with this concept….the words greater than that for a woman would not be included in the verse if it was only brotherly love….the verse would say….with a strong brotherly love….

      • Chuck Pace

        No sexuality at all is implied. Consider Jesus in John 15:13 . . . “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is the greatest love, according to Jesus. Selfless and non-romantic–greater than the love of a man for a woman or vice-versa.

      • Dr.Whom

        David and Jonathan were a full millennium before Jesus. His sayings cannot have influenced their meanings.

      • Chuck Pace

        Even if I granted your time-limitation-constraining-God assertion, you would have to grant that Jesus could have explained their meanings a millennium later.

      • Dr.Whom

        There, I think, we will have to disagree. You, I assume, are a Christian, while I am a liberal Jew. I consider Jesus, a.k.a. R. Yeshua ben Yoseph of Nazareth :-), a good and wise man for many of his reported deeds and sayings, but no more or less divine than any other human. And I do not consider any part of the Bible as automatically reliable or true in any kind of literal sense. He might have had and expressed an opinion on what was meant there — not by those two sentences, but by the corresponding text as he had it — but even if he did so and if it’s recorded, I wouldn’t consider him exceptionally authoritative.

      • Chuck Pace

        Thank you. Yes, I am a Christ-follower, which explains my interest in this article. I understand that we will not agree on many matters. While I respect your position on the (non-) authority of Scripture and non-deity of Jesus of Nazareth, I also find it unenviable. Perhaps you believe, as did the Sadducees of Jesus’ day, in no resurrection. Perhaps you consider Jimmy Carter a friend of Israel, Rabbi Lerner a spiritual leader, and Zionist Christians your foe. Each of these mistaken political identities (as well as an opinion on same-sex marriage) pale in importance to not acknowledging that Jesus was and is the promised Messiah.

      • Dr.Whom

        Yes, we must agree to disagree.

    • Larski1010

      Excellent, Karen. “We would somehow be tainted if we went to the same schools, swimming pools, parks, or restaurants as people of color.” I recall when we would somehow be tainted if we swam in pools not limited to the same gender, let alone the same color. The SBC’s history appears to me to be more one of exclusion than inclusion. The Convention seems determined to become more like the Roman Catholics in their governance from an absolute hierarchy.

  • jk

    first of all jesus affirmed marriage between man and a woman in the new testamanent read also romans ch1:26-30 ..second it is the word of god himself not a personl oponon.these schlars are writingto be popular with the people.in the old testament the prophets were treated evil wh spoke the truth.the ones that sai what the poltical powers and said what people wanted to hear were popuar.theones who spoke truth re persecuted.scholars like him and others going along withem are on the side of the false prophets.satan will tell you you can do and say whatever you want no problem.there is a highway going to hellthere is only a narrow path going to heaven.wide and broa is the gat that leads to detruction straight d arrow ist waythat leads to heavenw

    • Please avoid damning those you disagree with to hell. You can make a dissenting point without condemning.

    • Why did you bring up the underworld realm of Loki’s half-dead daughter Hell? Do you believe in Norse mythology?

  • Megan Palmer

    depravity like a big witch’s wart on the nose, and the old hag thinks it is her beauty mark. hehehehe

    • Guest

      Don’t be so down on yourself! I’m sure you’re a very pretty girl.

      • Megan Palmer

        hahaha
        Depravity = same-sex wedding given approval and everybody clapping hands and saying, “Ohhh how nice”

      • Lemmy Caution

        “Depravity = same-sex wedding given approval”

        Two people committing to love and care for one another for life. That you call depraved. Amazing.

      • Chuck Pace

        Not depraved at all if the two people are a man and a woman who wish to be intimate with each other physically. If two women or two men, I would call it good friends deciding to be roommates and perhaps share expenses for life. Fine if the government wants to treat it like they’re married for the tax break. Just don’t confuse it with marriage.

      • Lemmy Caution

        ” I would call it good friends deciding to be roommates and perhaps share expenses for life.”

        Whew. Good thing our secular rule of law doesn’t rely on your definitions.

        ” Just don’t confuse it with marriage.”

        There’s no confusion. It’s mariage. We just won’t confuse it with “holy matrimony”, which you can only get in a church.

        That’s the way this country works. The church can feel free to discriminate, the State will not.

      • Chuck Pace

        Our secular rule of law until quite recently outlawed homosexual acts. So “civil union” probably gives these relationships more credence than should be expected. Terming them “marriage” is a gigantic leap. At any rate, this discussion IS about holy matrimony in a church. And your last point is well taken.

      • Lemmy Caution

        “Our secular rule of law until quite recently outlawed homosexual acts.”

        So what? It also once saw owning another human being as legal as well. Times change. Progress.

        “Terming them “marriage” is a gigantic leap.”

        It’s a leap that about to become a reality in all 50 states in just a few months. Buckle up.

      • Chuck Pace

        Thankfully, as you said, “the church can feel free to discriminate.” You seem to place a lot of stock in a secular law system that has yet to show it can get it right on moral issues. It may “progress” on one front while it regresses on two others. Would you prefer being owned or snuffed out before you’re born? Neither of course.

  • Guthrum

    In these denominations, each church should have the authority to decide the issue either way. If a church in some other denomination decided that they would not marry people of the same sex then there should not be any consequences, recriminations, or sanctions by the leadership of the denomination. Most people now are leaving the mainline denominations by the millions and are heading to churches that follow the Bible.
    I also feel that churches should be totally immune to any legal actions concerning their stands and actions on the same sex marriage issue, either way.
    In a few years, probably five or less, their will be a marriage push for people to marry multiple partners. It will be interesting to see what the churches have to say about that.

    • Lemmy Caution

      “It will be interesting to see what the churches have to say about that.”

      Especially since the god of the bible was all for it.

      • Guthrum

        There are several references in the Old Testament that condemn the practice of polygamy.
        So the Bible does not condone polygamy or approve it, even though it was practiced by some of the people in the Bible.

      • Megan Palmer

        well, he walked in the counsel of the ungodly, stood in the manner of sinners, and sat in the seat of the scornful until even his relatives thought of him as a fool, his entire life’s work was burned up and wife lost, he ended up living in a cave out of fear and his daughters became mothers to two of the most immoral canaanite tribes who sacrificed their own children to Molech and Chemosh, so it was not his own righteousness that saved him IMHO

      • That’s not the spin 2Peter puts on him.

      • BrendtWayneWaters

        The “man after [God’s] own heart” was a peeping Tom, got another man’s wife knocked up, and had the other man whacked to try to cover it all up. Are you going to seriously tell me that God approved all that, or might it just be possible that one Scriptural statement about a man doesn’t praise or condemn his every action?

      • Are you going to seriously tell me Lot wasn’t righteous?

      • BrendtWayneWaters

        No, I’m going to seriously tell you that every last action he ever took in his life wasn’t righteous and approved by God (i.e. pretty much the opposite of what you imply).

        Your gross over-generalization isn’t as weak as those commenters here who conveniently ignore the difference between descriptive and prescriptive, but it’s darn close.

      • >Your gross over-generalization…

        I’m just quoting the Bible. If it is “gross over-generalization,” then it is the Bible’s weak, gross over-generalization.

        Go on, assign your scathing critique where it is due.

      • BrendtWayneWaters

        You misspelled “misquoting”.

      • You misspelled your name, Pedantic Twit.

      • Megan Palmer

        and when it was practiced, it had everlasting repercussions… say like Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar’s children today… Read all about it in book of genesis if you are unfamiliar with the family. Today they are sometimes called the Jews and Arabs.

      • Susan Foley

        You’re trying to tell me that Jacob’s two wives and two maidservants, who among them “built up the house of Israel” (see the book of Ruth) were all wrong? You’re the only one who seems to think so.

      • Megan Palmer

        what bible are YOU reading ? may have a few typos in your edition…. just saying

    • Snooterpoot

      Churches are already immune to any legal actions concerning their stands and actions on the same-sex marriage issue. It’s called the First Amendment; it legally protects churches.

      Any church can deny performing the rite to marriage to people who do not meet its theological requirements. That is the situation now, and there is no reason to think it will change.

      Every Christian church believes it follows the Bible. You, Guthrum, are in no position to judge people whose interpretations of the scripture differ from yours unless you think the all of the millions of interpretations of others are wrong and yours is the only one that is correct. If that’s what you think, look in the mirror to see the definition of arrogance.

    • Susan Foley

      Jacob, Leah, Rachel and their two maidservants will be first in line.

  • pennyhammack

    As a former Baptist and even for a while a Southern Baptist, I think it would be an honor to be kicked out of the SBC.

    • Larski1010

      “…it would be an honor to be kicked out of the SBC.” So it is, Penny. I’m also a former Baptist, SBC for awhile. Had to stop teaching seminary extension courses in music when I refused to sign the 2002 Baptist Faith and Message requirements.

  • fenaray

    I got about halfway through this before I just couldn’t read any more. Why anyone, especially any gay person would want to belong to a religion is beyond me. “Soul Competency?” Seriously? You MUST be joking.

  • Susan Foley

    I am not a Baptist, so I am just looking for someone to straighten me out.

    I had always understood the Baptist position to be that the individual believer was to read the Bible himself or herself, and make up his/her own mind as to what it says or demands (unlike the Catholic Church, where there is a central authority making such decisions).

    So what’s going on here? Who are the real Baptists? Surely not people who are looking for a central authority. People who want that are always welcome in Rome.

    • Chuck Pace

      Susan, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is organized as an upside-down triangle. That is, all the voluntarily-cooperating churches are at the top. The “brass” is the single-point tip at the bottom. In order to be an SBC church, a church must be a cooperating member church in a State Convention, each of which also has an upside-down hierarchy. No Baptist church can be told by a Convention who to call as pastor, how to spend its money, or what to preach. But there are parameters for being in cooperative fellowship with the convention of churches. Also, being Baptist in terms of individual “priesthood” has never meant that the individual person or congregation can come up with any interpretation it wishes and remain associated with any other given Baptist association or convention. In this case, the Alabama Baptist Convention has found this church’s practice to be outside the parameters for cooperative fellowship in the Convention. And at least a majority–more likely 99.999%–of its cooperating member churches will agree with that decision and action. This church is and has always been free to do what it deems right, but not as a member of the Convention of Southern Baptist churches.

      • Susan Foley

        I see. I guess. Thus does authoritarianism sneak in under the tent wall. As I say I am not a Baptist, so I don’t have the vote here. I’m always surprised, though, when a group that makes a big deal out of individual spiritual freedom is so rigid.

        So the Alabama Baptist Convention cannot tell the individual pastor what to preach unless he preaches (and practices) the idea that same sex marriage is OK, in which case they CAN tell him what to preach. (And other stuff too I imagine.)

      • Chuck Pace

        Again, the Convention can’t tell the individual pastor what to preach, unlike the hierarchical denominations such as Presbyterian, Methodist, etc. The convention may however, find the church out of fellowship, which basically means it will no longer seat the church’s messengers as voting participants when the convention convenes, nor receive the church’s voluntary financial contributions.

      • Susan Foley

        So. If the pastor does not toe the line they throw the church out. Conform or be expelled. How is this different from requiring him to say what they like? It isn’t.

      • Chuck Pace

        Weatherly Heights can go right on being Weatherly Heights with their pastor. The churches making up the Southern Baptist association and conventions WHBC used to be a part of no longer wish to be identified with the views and actions of the church, so they will no longer accept the church’s contributions or grant it membership. But the SBC won’t seize the property or unseat the pastor. That’s Baptist. Being expelled is the price of wading outside the perimeter of widely-held doctrine and practice.

      • Susan Foley

        I doubt that SBC has the legal power to seize Weatherly Heights’ property. Which is probably the only thing that stops them.

  • Megan Palmer

    There is some really uneducated discussion going on here with lots of misinformation and omissions of fact, primarily on the side of those using the Bible to give examples. This is true on both sides.

  • Chuck Pace

    It should be no surprise and no news that the SBC would break ties with a “church” that confuses marriage as God intends it with two female roomies misbehaving sexually. We can count on civil authorities to know nothing of God’s way and act like it, but keep it out of the Church!

    • Lemmy Caution

      “marriage as God intends it ”

      Indeed.

      • Chuck Pace

        Lemmy, very interesting! However, I still don’t see the boy-boy, girl-girl arrangement that we’re discussing here. Thanks though.

  • Way to go Rev. Jimmerson! As someone raised southern baptist, I’ve really had a hard time appreciating my roots because of the rigidness of the SBC. I’m now an Episcopal primarily because of my views on same-sex marriage. Thank you so much for doing what you do. I believe you’re on the right side of history and you’re an encouragement to folks like me.

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    “There was a time when being a Baptist meant this”.

    Oh, puhleeeeeeze. The alleged autonomy of the believer or the individual church hasn’t existed in Baptist realms for decades. Blaming its demise on a 13-year-old event is just foolish.