“What if a same sex couple walked forward to join in the membership of FBC?“
This question came to me via email in response to the current homosexual controversy going on within the United Methodist Church denomination. It is a good question because, more than likely, the controversy will be coming to a denomination near you very soon.
To answer this particular question properly, we need to ask (and answer) 3 ‘smaller,’ yet important questions. First, “Who can be a member of a church?” Second, “Can a practicing homosexual be a born again Christian?”And third, “Why would a same-sex person/couple want to join FBC?”
#1. Who can be a member of a church?
By definition a “church” is a group of people who have been spiritually called out of sinful darkness and brought into light by their understanding of and faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:16-18 makes it very clear for us: Jesus builds His church on those who believe in and follow Jesus as Savior and Lord. To be a member of a church – biblically speaking – requires a spiritual transformation of the heart where a turn from love for sin to trust in and love for Jesus has occurred (see also 1 Peter 2:9-10).
The question asked of me relates to First Baptist Church of El Dorado. We are a Southern Baptist Church. Regarding church membership, Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message states, “In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord.”
To be a member of FBC one must fully trust in and commit to following Jesus as both Savior and Lord.
Anyone is welcome to attend.
Anyone is welcome to participate in various ministries.
Anyone is welcome to join a Sunday School class.
Anyone and Everyone will be treated with love and care and respect.
Anyone and Everyone will be treated as an honored guest when they walk onto our campus.
But not just Anyone nor Everyone – to be biblically faithful – can be a member of First Baptist Church.
#2. Can a practicing, unrepentant homosexual be a born-again Christian?
I want the Apostle Paul (our authority because he was inspired by God) to answer the question for us. Writing to a group of church members, he said this: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
According to Paul, former-practicing-unrepentant-homosexuals-now-church-members went from being ‘dirty’ to being ‘washed;’ from being ‘unholy’ to being ‘sanctified;’ from being ‘unrighteous’ to being ‘justified.’ This is what it means to be brought from sinful darkness into the glorious light of the beauty of Jesus by faith in the Gospel. The same is true for all who sin against God – regardless of what that particular sin is. To be biblically faithful, a practicing, unrepentant homosexual cannot be a regenerate follower of Jesus, thus a church member. For that matter neither can practicing, unrepentant adulterers or drunkards or those practicing sexual immorality. Not everyone can be a member of Christ’s church. What would be the point of calling it a ‘church’ if everybody can just ‘join in’ at will?
#3. Why would you want to join FBC?
I ask this of every person who talks to me about joining our church. At the end of the day, anyone who wants to become a member of FBC is joining us. We aren’t joining them. They are joining us. We believe all people, everywhere are in bondage to sin (of all kinds) and are in desperate need of a Savior. We believe that Savior is Jesus. We believe one who turns from their sin to trust Jesus – who He is, what He’s done, and what He will do – can and will be saved. In all actuality, we are a bunch of messed up people who have found the One to give us hope and everlasting life. We follow and obey Him because we really wouldn’t want to do anything else. Want to join us in that? GREAT! If not, that’s fine too. But THAT’s who we are and what we do.
I hope you see – though the question today relates to homosexuality – the primary issue here isn’t same-sex relations. The main issue here is that a church is composed of people who have been/are being radically transformed from a life of empty love of sin and self to a satisfying and joy-filled life of loving and following and obeying Jesus. THAT’s the issue. THAT’s what a church is. Whether it is homosexuality or lying or adultery or divorce or anger or gossip – Jesus came to rescue all of us from what kills and destroys to bring us full life – now and forever.
How would YOU respond if you were asked this question?