Rolling Stone says a large church in Florida is pushing “a new anti-LGBTQ pledge” intended to “expel LGTBQ members.” The U.K. Daily Mail referred to the story the same way. Another news outlet reported “A Florida church is demanding its members sign an oath expressing opposition to transgender identity and same-sex marriage.” One called it an “oath opposing LGBTQ+ freedoms.” These outlets are creating a story, not reporting one. The truth is this: these news reporters are spinning a story according to their ideology. And it’s shameful.
In reality, the statement they are referring to is simply a wholly biblical statement on what Christians believe, and have always believed, about God’s very good design for human sexuality. In fact, the statement is for the most part, what nearly all people believed without question or doubt until the last few milliseconds of human history. They are referring to this statement that members (not mere attendees) of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL are being asked to affirm since last October. It states simply,
As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression.
But this basic and wholly uncontroversial statement that this church is wisely requiring its members to read and affirm is being portrayed in various media outlets as something very ugly and hateful. It is not. As the church explains on its own website,
This statement is a very straightforward and biblical statement. Without singling out any one specific sin, it summarizes God’s design for gender, marriage, and sexuality. This positive statement equally forbids the range of human sinful sexual expression, including fornication, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, transgenderism, and others.
Everyone should fully appreciate exactly what is going on here in this news spin.
Basic biblical Christian truth on male and female, marriage and human sexuality is now being portrayed in countless news outlets as something no Christian should ever affirm. Full stop. That is exactly what is being communicated here. The assertion is that basic Christianity is a bigoted, hateful faith.
Let us be clear. These media reports are not calling out mean Christians. They are not denouncing “judgmental” Christians. They are not calling out politically active Christians. They are calling out that which scripture clearly teaches, what all Christians have always believed and reason itself affirms.
They are calling out as beyond the pale a church that is simply asking its members to affirm what scripture clearly teaches on male and female, marriage, and sexuality. This is where we are today in culture. And this is what current sexual politics has brought us to. You can no longer assent to basic biblical teaching on sexuality and be a good person.
And yes, it is absolutely proper for the leadership of every Christian church to ask every one of its members who say they claim the name of Christ to attest to and affirm clear Christian teaching on important issues, especially those issues that are being so aggressively assaulted and redefined today in our culture. That is called loving leadership.
And on that point, consider this irony: These reactions of denunciation to this basic and simple statement from this church in Jacksonville Florida are the very reason such a statement is needed by every Christian church. As this pastor said in a recent open forum at his church, “By the time you are in the news for believing what Christians have believed for 2,000 years, then it’s really time to be clear.” He is precisely right. The leadership of this church, acting as Sons of Issachar, realize this very point and are providing essential clarity on the matter.
There is deliberate confusion being sown in the culture today, by countless media voices as demonstrated above, as well as by world-famous pastors on the topic of human sexuality. This is profoundly unfortunate, and it must be called out as unfaithful shepherding. Clear and loving actions like this taken by the congregation of First Baptist, Jacksonville must be encouraged, praised, and replicated in all churches.
Below is a man who said it and said it very well at the open forum for the entire city held at First Baptist, Jacksonville. He didn’t go to church there. He was a visitor. But he spoke truth against lies, and he did so with clarity and love, which we need more of today in our culture. Listen to his very short, but important encouragement here.