an International Discussion of Homosexuality (TIDH)
Keep Contending for Truth
Labels are so convenient. Once we get people pigeon-holed we don't have to think so much anymore.
Contending for the Truth
by Pastor Bob Stith
July 26, 1998
I am a Southern Baptist "fundamentalist ever-straight" pastor with a slight charismatic flavor. (Labels are so convenient. Once we get people pigeon-holed we don't have to think so much anymore.) :-) A little over four years ago God broke my heart about the lack of mercy and restoration in my attitude toward homosexuality. After several months of searching I found Exodus.
This organization has not only helped change my attitudes, God has used them to change my life. For several reasons I was not able to attend this summer for the first time in those four years. Wish I could have been there. I would like to have met you. All this is to say I really appreciate your heart and your desire to bring healing and some measure of sanity to divisive issues. As Professor Bloom said in his best selling book we are a nation that no longer believes in or searches for truth. Consequently even though it might seem like this would aid an effort like yours (and I like to think I am also in that group) it really mitigates against it. I think the reason is we have been conditioned to defend our point of view by totally discrediting both the views and character of those who disagree with us. Again, this is much easier to do if we just label people. This is probably nowhere more evident in our culture today than in the discussion of this issue.
Maggie, my prayer is that you have not been wounded in any way by the discussions on the Exodus list. I really appreciate and enjoy reading your comments. Yes, there are times when I'm thinking "Oh Maggie, Maggie. Please!"
(I'll list some examples - and reasons later.) I would not want to see you disappear from the postings. On the other hand (was it Theodore Roosevelt who said he wanted to find one-armed men for his cabinet so they could just give him one straight answer to his questions?) I have found myself worried about the direction and divisiveness of the list. I often agree with much of both points of view. However as with my own denomination I often fret over the tone. Also Paul indicated in I Corinthians 14 that some issues were best discussed when only believers - and probably more mature ones - were present. So, with that introduction, here are some of my thots:
1. For me, my commitment is first and foremost an absolute one to Jesus Christ, who alone is sufficient for salvation.
2. This understanding comes primarily from the Word of God and so I have a commitment to the Bible as fully truthful and sufficient for understanding and growth in my Christian walk. It was this understanding and commitment to the Bible that was responsible for my change from a southern white racist to one who stood before white congregations in Alabama and preached on the sin of racism. Obviously it was God who convicted me but it was the petard of Scripture on which He hoisted me. So, this is a bottom line for me. I can examine various views on an issue, even differences of opinion on Scripture itself, but I can't tinker with understanding that I have come to thru careful study, prayer and legitimate exegesis. I think this is pretty much the basis of the discussion on the list.
3. Hate crimes. Hate is an abomination straight out of the pit whether it ever issues forth in an actual crime or not. However I am very leery of government judging the intent of any thing. A Dallas-Fort Worth quite liberal black columnist wrote an article in the aftermath of the murder of the black man in east Texas recently. In this article he listed many reasons why he totally disagreed with using this incident to promote "Hate crime legislation". I agree with all his reasonings and more. For instance, regardless of positions on another flash point issue, abortion, thinking people should be terrified at the use of the RICO statute to prosecute abortion protesters. This is especially true when the congressmen who wrote the legislation stated very clearly that it was never intended to be used in this way. Also when it is used against groups without one shred of evidence linking them to any violence other than a common view that abortion is wrong. Again, abortion isn't the issue here. It is a willful misuse of legislation which would concern me as much (well, almost as much) if the positions were reversed.
4. It is this kind of deliberate deception on both sides that should concern us. I too am bothered by the exaggerations and distortions. I was asked to be a part of what I was led to believe was a compassionate outreach of a national ministry to the homosexual community. It wasn't. On the other hand, the national media coverage of the ad campaign disgusts and horrifies me. Using terms like "curing" homosexuals, getting "saved" by Exodus, etc. are clearly deliberately inflammatory.
Using the old "strawman" type arguments should be shunned, exposed and even vilified by honest, thinking people everywhere. I sense that this is your stance as well but on the Exodus list the finger only seems to be pointed at the religious right (there's that label thing again). Since this list is populated primarily by Christian conservatives this would seem to be logical but I think there is a sense, right or wrong, that we are the only ones doing wrong. Almost without exception every single article I have heard or read has been extremely slanted against the Exodus position. John and Ann Paulk have been viciously and wrongly attacked. The Dallas Morning News headlined their article "Conservatives campaign against gays, lesbians. This kind of misrepresentation should be attacked by both sides.
Sorry for the length of this. I do appreciate you and your contributions. Hang in there and keep contending for the truth and above all for Him who is Truth.
Love in Jesus,
(or Pastor Bob as I am known to friends in Exodus and Living Hope ministry
here in Texas.)
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