Last week I wrote a couple of posts about the fact Southern Baptist Convention recently decided to kick Broadway Baptist Church out of the SBC due to the fact that the church was insufficiently hostile to gays.
We explained before the Committee that Broadway has never entertained any formal order of business before the congregational body that constitutes an endorsement of homosexual behavior. We further explained that church membership and congregational service in no way denotes ratification of the behavior of the individual holding that membership and performing that service.
Discussions were candid and thorough. More conservative voices on the Executive Committee wanted Broadway to do something clearly not required by the SBC Constitution: take formal congregational action to condemn homosexual behavior. This extraordinary measure has not been required of any other SBC church. It would be unprecedented and unauthorized. Such requirement repeatedly surfaced in our deliberations, and each time the Executive Committee backed off it.
The breakdown came when those advocating the more rigorous constitutional test won the day. It became clear several weeks ago from the Executive Committee that Broadway would have to implement measures to identify, isolate, and distinguish our gay and lesbian members from the rest of the congregation in order to be found in friendly cooperation. Of course, conscience, congregational autonomy, and common decency prohibit us from doing so.
Now, it appears that the constitutional language as presently stated in Article III is not sufficient. It is not enough for cooperating Southern Baptist churches simply to take no action to affirm homosexual behavior. They must now take formal action explicitly to disapprove such behavior.
Every Southern Baptist church of any size has homosexual members. These friends pray with us, sing with us, give with us, serve with us, and take the Body and Blood of Christ at the table of the Lord with us. Will the test imposed upon Broadway by the denomination now be required of all the churches?
The recommendation to disfellowship Broadway was unanimously passed in the Executive Committee. It was approved by the Convention without discussion. Not even one lone solitary dissenting voice. Such uniformity of thought and silence of conscience means that the SBC remains Baptist in name only.
The moral legalism inherent in the Southern Baptist Convention’s decision indicates the spiritual disease infecting and destroying our Baptist body today. Instead of focusing our energies of love on a lonely and hurting world, we are obsessed with endlessly parsing out arcane legalities designed to assert our own moral purity and superiority.
It is a sound and fury signifying nothing.