Elijah Friedeman, The Millennial Perspective
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a staunch conservative, started a controversy with comments he made at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual conference.The Associated Press quotes Mohler as saying that homosexuality isn't something that people can "turn on and turn off." Mohler went on to say that
"only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality."
It's important to note, though, that Mohler didn't make these comments because he wanted to start a controversy. A certain fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor challenged Mohler on the floor of the Southern Baptist convention, forcing Mohler to mount a defense of his views.
The pastor asked Mohler if he made this statement that had been credited to him: "We've (Southern Baptists) lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as homophobia... 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 responded, "I made those statements. They are not alleged statements. I made them."
According to reports, he then went on to outline how Southern Baptists had been homophobic and had misrepresented homosexuality. Mohler even called the Southern Baptists to repentance on the issue. However, he did all of this while maintaining that homosexuality is a sin that needs Jesus as a Savior. One report I read said that the convention responded with applause.
I realize that much of what Mohler said flies in the face of conservative Christianity. No one likes to be called homophobic. And religious people especially don't like to be called to repentance. But Albert Mohler is absolutely right.
What did Albert Mohler say that was so outrageous? Was it the part about Jesus being a Savior from sin? Was it the claim that our sinful nature goes beyond a simple choice? Any orthodox Christian should affirm salvation from our sin through Jesus and that we can't simply decide to turn off our sinful nature.
I know that many conservative Christians want to turn homosexuality into an easy choice. But it doesn't work like that. Don't get me wrong. Everyone has a choice about whether or not to engage in sexual acts outside of marriage. But not everyone has a say about whom they're sexually attracted to.
There are a lot of people in the world with addictive personalities - they're addicted easily - these people don't have to give in to their addictive temptations, but they have a problem that can't be solved with a choice - a problem that only Jesus can fix.
Homosexuality is much the same. Homosexuals have deep-rooted attraction to the same gender that they can't solve with a choice. Mohler stated that homosexuality, like any other sin, requires a Savior. When did that become a radical sentiment? Last I checked, it's a biblical concept.
But I have a feeling that most people disagreed with Mohler, because he labeled Southern Baptists as homophobic.
I can't speak to homophobia in Southern Baptist churches. I'll have to trust Mohler on that front (apparently he explained exactly how Southern Baptists are homophobic, but I can't find the transcript). But I know from what I've seen, read, and heard, a form of homophobia is very present in many conservative churches.
For some reason there is an irrational fear of and extreme aversion to homosexuals in a lot of churches. We may not come right out and say that we think homosexuals are nasty creatures, but if you read between the lines, it's pretty easy to pick up on. This is homophobia.
We should not elevate homosexuality above other sins. If we condemn homosexuality as sin, we must also condemn other forms of sexual immorality as sin.
I've seen many religious people castigate homosexuals, but turn a blind eye to the other, more pervasive, forms of sins in the church. I'm more concerned about the prevalence of divorce in churches than I am about a few cases of homosexuals trying to silence their critics.
Albert Mohler was right about homosexuality not just being a choice. He was right about homosexuality requiring a Savior. He was right about the church being homophobic towards homosexuals. And he was also right about homosexuality being a sin.
Some people want to turn these four statements into a paradox. But as Christians we can, and should, affirm each of these statements. And we should, like Mohler challenged, repent if we are guilty of homophobia.