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The SBC and whether God's Word 'whispers' about sexual sin

Newly elected Southern Baptist Convention president Ed Litton and outgoing president J.D. Greear take a selfie after Greear pounded the gavel for the last time June 16, 2021, to close the SBC Annual Meeting. Litton will open the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Ca., with the pound of the gavel. | Robin Jackson

My family has been Southern Baptist all my life.

My dad was a bi-vocational Southern Baptist pastor/dairy farmer in Kentucky.

I am a graduate of Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary and I have been a church planter for the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. I have now been the pastor of that same Southern Baptist Church, Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, for the past 25 years.

I have great respect for J.D. Greear; however, I can’t agree with him or President Ed Litton’s approach to sexual sin and how God sees it.

In 2019 Pastor Greear said, “The Bible appears more to whisper on sexual sin compared to its shouts about materialism and religious pride.”

The problem here is the Bible holds a different view.

It was sexual sin in Genesis 6 that triggered God to raise up Noah to build an ark before He destroyed the earth with a flood. It was sexual sin that caused God to command Lot and his family to leave and not look back at Sodom and Gorromah. It was sexual sin that became the downfall of the beloved King David’s tenure. It was sexual sin of Jezebel that is spoken about through the Old and New Testaments and the focus in Revelation at the End of Time.

God said in Revelation 2:20, “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.”

When the early Church was trying to figure out what rules and guidelines they should follow, they came up with two, one had to do with sexual immorality, and the other with idols and eating meat that still had blood in it due to the ritual of animal blood sacrifice to pagan idols.

The early church said in Acts 15:19, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”

Paul carries on this theme in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.”

I agree religious pride and materialism are sinful but that does not make sexual sin any less of an issue. The Old Testament and the New Testament alike take a very strong stance against sexual immorality, and we as pastors and followers of Jesus Christ must do the same. We don’t have to be jerks about it, but we should take seriously what the Bible takes seriously. I agree it is not homosexuality or sin for that matter that sends you to hell, but the rejection of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel must be our paramount focus for people to be able to change and become who Jesus created them to be.

Many years ago, when we started Vanguard in Colorado Springs, we had a lesbian couple who joined our group. Eventually one of them asked me, “Do I have to just give up my lesbian to come to Christ?” I said, “No, you have to give up everything.” Jesus tells us unless we are willing to give up everything, we can’t be his disciple. Nothing can stand between Him and us as our number one priority, including our sexuality.

Not long after this she approached me again and said, “What do you think of my lesbianism?” I was getting ready to tell her and then I heard the Spirit of God inside me say, “Tell her, you didn’t create her, you didn’t die for her, and you won’t be her judge.”

I opened my mouth and said these words. She was stunned. I was stunned.

She said to me, “Really, it doesn’t matter what you think?”

I said, “I guess not” (See, up to this point I thought what I thought was the most important thing).

Then I heard the Spirit say to my soul, “Pray and have her ask me what I think.”

So, I did.

A few months later she said to me in passing, “What does God think of my lesbianism?”

I turned away and teared up because I couldn’t believe God actually answered this prayer.

I said, “Let me get you a Bible and you can read it for yourself.”

I gave her Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6.

She read it.

We met.

I said, “What do you think.”

She said, “It says it is a sin.”

I said, “Really?”

She said, “Really.”

She later gave her life to Christ and in front of 12,000 SBC messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention in Fort Worth in 1997, she shared this story.

As Southern Baptists, we don’t have to go soft on sexual immorality for the Gospel to thrive and be our focus. No, it is just the opposite, when we share what God thinks from His Word that is what changes people.

Can I give you some friendly advice? The Bible doesn’t need to change, we do. You heard it said, “Love the sinner and hate their sin.” I don’t believe that is possible. I have learned, “Love the sinner and hate your sin.”

God’s Word will take care of the rest.

Kelly Williams is co-founder and senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  His books include: The Mystery of 23, Friend of Sinners and Real Marriage. He also maintains a blog.  

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