ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (ABP) – A prominent Florida pastor took exception to recent statements by a Southern Baptist seminary president that homosexuality is “not merely a matter of choice.”
Roy Hargrave, senior pastor of Riverbend Church in Ormond Beach, Fla., didn’t mention Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler by name in his June 26 sermon archived on the church website, but he alluded to “some controversy” at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting a few days earlier “as to the reasons for homosexuality.”
At the meeting, Mohler said during a question-and-answer part of his report to messengers that Christians “have lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia.”
“We’ve used choice language when it is clear that sexual orientation is a deep inner struggle and not merely a matter of choice,” Mohler said.
Hargrave said about five years ago he read an article “from someone who is well known in our denomination who wrote that it’s very possible that a gene might direct people toward the sin of homosexuality.”
In 2007 Mohler grabbed headlines with a column titled “Is Your Baby Gay?” In it Mohler said science is pointing to the possibility that biological factors may contribute to sexual orientation, but even if people are born with same-sex attraction that acting upon those desires would still be a sin.
Hargrave said a problem with that is “it means that sin is biological.” He said that means going back to “what the world sees as a foundation,” evolution.
“When we capitulate into evolution, everything becomes biological,” Hargrave explained. “This is why we are so drugged out. We’re drugged out because everything is physiological. Everything is biological.”
“Sin is not biological,” Hargrave said. “It is spiritual.”
Hargrave said American society promotes homosexuality, and the church is not immune.
“The churches of God are beginning to capitulate to this,” he said. “They are even writing articles saying that if we don’t grow up we are going to lose our young people because they have a different view about sexuality.”
“You can have a different view all you want to, friends,” he said. “There’s only one view that God has, and we know that is a sin.”
Hargrave said “one of the primary things at stake in the church of America” is what it has to say about homosexuality.
“There is backbiting within churches and denominations about the way we are supposed to treat homosexuality,” he said. “Southern Baptists just the other day were accused of being hateful people and pastors were hateful toward homosexuals.”
Hargrave said he has never a met a pastor of a Southern Baptist church who hates homosexuals. “I don’t hate homosexuals,” he said. “I hate homosexuality. We’re to love the sinners, because we are sinners and we were saved by the grace and mercy of God.”
“I don’t have a problem with homosexuals coming in here to hear the gospel, but they cannot be a part of this congregation until they repent of that sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Hargrave said God can redeem gays just like anyone else, but “when it becomes rampant” homosexuality is “far worse than other sin.”
“Homosexuality is the giving over to debasement,” he said. “This is why you see cultures crumbling under the load of this debasement. Who would have ever thought the Roman Empire would be completely wiped out?”
“These sins bring down a nation,” Hargrave said.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.