PHOENIX (ABP) – The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said June 15 that Southern Baptists need to repent of a “form of homophobia” that keeps gays and lesbians out of their churches.
Albert Mohler responded during his report to the Southern Baptist Convention to a question from Peter Lumpkins, a Southern Baptist blogger, about whether comments attributed to him in a March 24 Christian Science Monitor article were accurate.
Writer Jonathan Merritt, a Southern Baptist minister and well-known social critic, quoted Mohler as saying “We’ve lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia,” and “We’ve used the choice language when it is clear that sexual orientation is a deep inner struggle and not merely a matter of choice.”
Mohler said at the convention “there is no way anyone in fair mindedness can be confused about what I believe about homosexuality,” because he has written more than 200 articles about it, but that “the reality is that we as Christian churches have not done well on this issue.”
“Evangelicals, thankfully, have failed to take the liberal trajectory of lying about homosexuality and its sinfulness,” Mohler said. “We know that the Bible clearly declares – not only in isolated verses but in the totality of its comprehensive presentation – the fact that homosexuality not only is not God’s best for us, as some try to say, but it is sin.”
“But we as evangelicals have a very sad history in dealing with this issue,” he continued. “We have told not the truth, but we have told about half the truth. We’ve told the biblical truth, and that’s important, but we haven’t applied it in the biblical way.”
“We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice,” Mohler said. “It’s clear that it’s more than a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful, but it does mean it’s not something people can just turn on and turn off. We are not a gospel people unless we understand that only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.”
Mohler said churches have not done their job until “there are those who have been trapped in that sin sitting among us.”
Lumpkin said in is blog June 16 that Mohler’s answer was not what he expected to hear and something “I’ll be digesting a long time.”
Mohler has appeared on television programs and been quoted in mainstream media many times over the years in opposition to gay marriage, ordination of gay clergy and other aspects of what he has called attempts to “normalize” homosexual behavior.
As recently as May Mohler described a decision by the Presbyterian Church (USA) Presbytery of the Twin Cities in Minnesota to ordain persons without regard to sexual orientation as “yet another tragedy in the sad history of mainline Protestantism’s race toward total theological disaster.”
In June Mohler objected to use of the term “clobber scriptures” to describe Bible verses that label homosexuality a sin.
His recent comments, however, do suggest some moderation in tone. In 2004 Mohler complained that “those who oppose homosexuality are depicted as narrow-minded bigots and described as ‘homophobic’” and that “anyone who suggests that heterosexual marriage is the only acceptable and legitimate arena of sexual activity is lambasted as out-dated, oppressive, and outrageously out of step with modern culture.”
He also pointed out that the Bible speaks of male homosexuality as an “abomination” the “strongest word used of God’s judgment against an act.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.