Along the shoreline of North Carolina, from Bald Head Island in the south to Currituck in the north, lighthouses are beacons of hope and life to protect great ships from the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." When extreme danger is imminent, these lighthouses illuminate the way.
Recently, the State Baptist Convention of North Carolina, the largest religious organization in the state and the second largest in the nation, voted overwhelmingly at its annual convention to ask its board of directors to come up with a written policy that would purge from North Carolina Baptists' ranks any member church that "knowingly affirms, approves or endorses homosexual behavior." Such churches would not be considered "in friendly cooperation with the convention and sympathetic to its purposes and work."
Some delegates expressed opposition to the motion. According to the Greensboro News and Record, Rob Helton, a messenger from Cherry Point Baptist Church in Havelock, argued: "Could it be that homosexuality gains our attention primarily because it's not 'our' sin? If we write a policy [on homosexuality], it seems only fair and right that we write a policy on every sin in the Bible." Jo Godfrey, a delegate from Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, said the measure failed to show respect for the autonomy of Baptist churches.
Although such statements are reflective of some within the State Baptist Convention, they represent only a small minority. Furthermore, these remarks demonstrate a profound lack of understanding concerning the serious hazard posed for churches that would embrace the homosexual lifestyle.
Few sins in the Bible are described with the same harshness or urgency of language as homosexuality. Genesis 18:20 refers to it as a sin that cries out to God in heaven. Leviticus 18:22 says it is an "abomination." Romans 1:26-27 describes it as "unnatural." I Corinthians 6:19-20 declares that those who practice it will be barred from heaven. In other words, the consequences of homosexual behavior can be considerably more grievous than some other sins. Homosexuality is unique in that it is especially abhorrent to God and constitutes a significantly perverse and wicked lifestyle that clearly shows that one is far removed from Him.
Few sins have done more of late to wreak havoc among God's people as homosexuality. Mainline churches are being pulled apart over attempts by homosexual activists to redefine biblical sexual morality. Battles are currently be fought in the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, American Baptists, United Methodists, Presbyterian Church (USA), and other denominations. Interestingly, mainline churches that have taken a bold stand against liberal doctrine and the acceptance of homosexual sin are growing by leaps and bounds (Assemblies of God +377.1%, Southern Baptists +52.6%, Roman Catholics +45.4%). Great denominations, however -- like the ones previously mentioned -- are significantly diminishing in memberships because of their liberal bent (Episcopalians -35.8%, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -12.3%, Presbyterian Church (USA) -43.5%, American Baptists -6.9%, United Methodists -25.4%).
Moreover, few sins today threaten religious freedom as does homosexuality. In his book Marriage Under Fire, Dr. James Dobson notes how homosexual activism is jeopardizing one's right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience. He writes:
"Canada is leading the way on this revolutionary path. I could cite dozens of examples indicating that religious freedom in that country is dying. Indeed, on April 28, 2004, the Parliament passed Bill C-250, which effectively criminalized speech or writings that criticize homosexuality. Anything deemed to be 'homophobic' is punishable by six months in prison or other severe penalties. Pastors and priests in Canada are wondering if they can preach from Leviticus or Romans 1 or other passages from the apostle Paul. Will a new Bible be mandated that is bereft of 'hate speech'? Consider this: A man who owned a printing press in Canada was fined over $40,000 for refusing to print stationary for a homosexual activist organization. Censorship is already in full swing .... Is that kind of censorship coming to the United States? Yes, I believe it is. Once homosexual marriage is legalized nationwide ... laws based on 'equality' will bring many changes in the law. Furthermore, it is likely that non-profit organizations that refuse to hire homosexuals on religious grounds will lose their tax exemptions. Some Christian colleges and universities are already worrying about that possibility."
Autonomy of the local church has always been a sacred cow with Southern Baptists. But the doctrine was never meant to convey that Baptists could believe and practice whatever they wanted. What it means is that Baptists are free to believe and exercise what they ought.
North Carolina Baptists have essentially agreed that no member church should ever show sympathy to the homosexual agenda. In taking this courageous stand, Southern Baptists in the Tar Heel State have become a lighthouse illuminating the way for the great denominational ships of Zion in imminent danger of sinking in the "Graveyard of the Apostates."
This article was originally published on November 28, 2005.
Rev. Mark H. Creech (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. Statistics on mainline church memberships were taken from a recent article entitled: "While Mainline Protestants Lose Members, Others are Gaining Them," by John H. Adams, The Layman Online.