This week’s Monday Morning Insight contained an article with the intriguing title Should An Openly Homosexual Person be Baptized? The article is worth reading mostly for the comments that follow it. The article itself is based on a blog entry by Pennsylvania pastor Brian Jones.
Here is my take on the subject . . .
1) This really isn’t a question about homosexuals and how the church should treat them. It isn’t really about homosexuality at all.
2) The operative word–the only important word, really–is “openly.” The word means to publicly act in a certain manner. That is, to commit homosexual acts and then to defend those actions as morally acceptable. It is the opposite of doing something in secret, or doing something and then being ashamed of it. To be “openly” homosexual is the opposite of asking forgiveness and seeking God’s help and the help of others so that you may overcome temptation.
3) I pause here to comment that pastors are fooled from time to time, and not just about homosexuality. Despite our best efforts, we occasionally admit people into the church who later prove to be unfit for membership. Jesus warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing so we shouldn’t be surprised when unregenerate people show up in our churches.
4) The point being, people don’t always tell the truth, sometimes they cover up facts, sometimes serious character flaws emerge, and sometimes persistent sinful behavior shows up after years of concealment.
5) Churches that oppose homosexuality will have to deal with it in their midst, sometimes among their leaders. To say that is simply stating an obvious fact. Sin happens, and sin by its very nature is deceptive.
6) But the word “openly” takes us into an entirely different arena.
7) I can imagine baptizing people with all sorts of moral issues, past failures, and current struggles. If we wait to baptize perfect people, we’ll never baptize anyone.
8) But why would you baptize someone who “openly” rejects (by precept and action) what the Bible teaches? A person who is “openly” homosexual can hardly be said to have repented, and yet repentance is clearly the prerequisite for baptism (Acts 2:38).
9) The attitude of the heart matters a great deal. But since only God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, we are left with words and deeds. Even there we can be fooled. But in this case, no one is trying to fool anyone.
10) The person who is “openly” homosexual and seeking baptism may be saying, “I know what the Bible says, and I reject it.” Or they might mean, “I don’t believe homosexuality is sinful.”
11) I can respect the position of a person who says, “I am a homosexual, I know what the Bible says about it, and I reject it.” I can respect that position, but I won’t baptize a person who holds that position. Nor will I baptize a person who “openly” twists the Word of God to justify their sin.
12) I have long felt that the debate about homosexuality isn’t really about sexual behavior as much as it is about biblical authority and whether or not we will place ourselves under the authority of God’s Word no matter what the culture says or what our personal desires may be.
13) My final answer to the answer to the question, “Should an openly homosexual person be baptized?” is no. But that no would go for anyone who “openly” rejects God’s Word.
14) It’s a bad thing to be fooled, but it is far worse to lower our standards intentionally.
15) Without repentance (a change of mind and heart that leads to
a change of life) there can be no true baptism. Without repentance
you’re getting a sinner wet but doing him no good.