Homosexuality in the Baptist Church:
Homosexuality is one of the most debated issues among Christians today, regardless of the denomination of their church. Some churches view homosexuality as a sin and have no tolerance for it, while other denominations are more accepting and consider it a non-sin. Even though some denominations have taken a stand on homosexuality, there seems to much discord within the governing bodies of the churches regarding this issue. It has moved from a topic rarely discussed and considered very personal and private, to a mainstream topic of conversation. Although there has been a growing acceptance among certain Christian denominations regarding homosexuals, the American Baptist Church has remained firm in its position towards homosexuality. The American Baptist Churches descended from the Northern Baptist Convention that was founded in 1907. The church has approximately 1.5 million members and 5800 congregations that are scattered through 34 regions of the United States. The American Baptist Church members are following the century long traditions of soul freedom, which allows the independence of individual members of the church to form their own beliefs. They also support congregational freedom, which allows each church the autonomy to develop its own policies. In order to understand the position that the American Baptist Church takes on homosexuality, it is important to examine their general religious beliefs. According to a website of the First Baptist Church in Scituate, MA , they believe that salvation and eternal life are granted to all those who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They believe that both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are the divinely inspired word of God. The Bible is to be interpreted responsibly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Baptists hold the Scriptures and the Old and New Testaments as their final authority. This has become the basis for the viewpoint that the American Baptist Church has developed on the issue of homosexuality. The American Baptists also have some strong convictions about the type of person they are supposed to be. Again, according to the First Baptist Church website, these include a redeemed person that claims a personal relationship with God, a biblical person that seeks guidance in understanding the Scripture, and a worshipping person that shares an open and public confession of faith. American Baptists are also supposed to be a mission person that invites others to follow Christ and an inclusive person, who embraces different races, ethnicity, and genders, and also accepts that there are individual differences of conviction and theology. This inclusion also covers those who are from a variety of backgrounds and they are to find unity in diversity and diversity in unity. These convictions have become a source of division among some of the member churches within this denomination, as they are supposed to embrace and accept those with individual differences, yet they are not accepting of homosexuals. According to the religious tolerance website, The American Baptist Church has been actively responding to issues pertaining to homosexuality as far back as 1987. In June of 1987, a statement of concern regarding homosexuality was defeated by church delegates at their Biennial Meeting. They decided that “Scriptures repeatedly depict homosexuality as a social and moral evil and the unrepentant homosexual has no claim to full acceptance in the Christian community.” So at that time, they decided that they just did not want to deal with the issue. Four years later, in June of 1991, the delegates of the Biennial Meeting were forced to deal with the topic of homosexuality again. They adopted a statement that rejected the homosexual lifestyle, homosexual marriage, ordination of homosexual clergy, and the establishment of gay churches and gay caucuses On the other hand, their statement also included that the church should...
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