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Conventional Thinking: Conviction & compassion

“The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Messengers to the 2014 annual meeting of the BGCO considered several resolutions on weighty topics, including confronting domestic violence, opposing the legalization of marijuana, fighting for religious liberty in America and abroad and decrying the rise of organized gambling and its effect on the poor and addicts.

One resolution, however, stood out for those participating in the meeting and others in the media and on Facebook afterwards. Resolution number nine, “on compassion for homosexuals,” was presented by the resolutions committee and approved by messengers after some debate.

The resolution reads, “We, the messengers to the 2014 BGCO (annual meeting)… believe every person is created in the image of God and has inherent value. In contrast to the growing acceptance of homosexuality today, the Old and New Testaments clearly declare homosexual acts as sinful. Meanwhile we freely admit that each of us is a sinner in need of repentance and God’s grace. We therefore commit to love all our neighbors in word and deed, that all may be won to Christ and redeemed from sin.” It also contained these Scriptural footnotes, Gen. 1:26; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 1:26-32; Rom. 3:23; I Cor. 6:9-11.

For most Oklahoma Baptists, we see that the resolution simply affirms our biblical convictions about human sexuality and calls for Christ-like compassion and love for all people, including those who self-identify as homosexuals.

As Simon & Garfunkel famously observed, people “hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.” Many critics and detractors on the Internet, for example, dismissed the resolution as backwards, insincere, hateful or worse.

These critics forget a crucial element of love, which warns people against self-destructive behavior, but does so in constructive ways. After all, a real friend will speak the truth but with your best interests in mind.

Of course, we recognize that the world cannot fully grasp our position on this issue. The great C.S. Lewis said it this way: “We must now consider Christian morality as regards (to sex), what Christians call the virtue of chastity…. (as) the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it; the Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong.”

We cannot, therefore, expect the world to appreciate our view on sexuality as a whole, let alone homosexuality at a time when it is being embraced more every day.

All we can do is follow the example of our Christian forefathers like the Apostle Paul who spoke so clearly on this subject. Above all we look to Jesus, who affirmed the entire Old Testament Law and spoke against sex outside of marriage (Matt. 5:28, Mark 7:20-23, John 4 & 8:1-11), which He, Himself, defined as one man and one woman united for life (Matt. 19:5).

We recognize that many, if not most, will not be won with mere words. We must boldly and graciously declare the truth, but follow it up with good works.

Then, we trust the Holy Spirit for the results. He does the saving and sanctifying, not us.

Only with this Scriptural balanced approach will our compassion shine through, along with our convictions.

That is when we will become most like Our Lord, Who embodied conviction and compassion, Who came “full of grace and truth.”

 

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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