What a shame!

By John Pierce

Three Southern Baptist “biblical counseling experts” have given advice to families with gay or lesbian children. And their advice is frighteningly unloving and unhealthy.

According to a Baptist Press article, seminary professors Heath Lambert, John Babler and Sam Williams call for “unconditional love” — then thrown in their conditions.

They propose a so-called “culture of honesty” where family members with same-sex attraction can “confess their sins and ask for help.” Those are big conditions for coming out.

For these profs, acknowledgment of homosexual orientation must be accompanied by the confession that such feelings deserve condemnation and treatment. Apparently truly unconditional love of a son or daughter, they fear, requires too much.

“Ultimately this loved one’s eternal destiny may rest in” the needed confrontation of sin, said Babler, who apparently believes heterosexual orientation is an additional requirement for life eternal.

Williams calls this heavily-conditioned unconditional love “a properly Christian form of ‘coming out of the closet.’” How loving! How Christian!

Showing his sensitive side, Lambert, according to the article, pastorally warns parents to not be too “creeped out” by confessions of same-sex attraction — noting with great theological depth that “sin is sin.”

Also, the professors continue to advance the widely-disclaimed case for sexual orientation reversal that results from a heavy dose of confession and discipline. More discipline, of course, than is required of heterosexuals since there are permitted expressions of sexuality for them.

So the advice from these Southern Baptist “biblical counseling experts” to those experiencing same-sex attraction is this good news: Come out and confess or be condemned!

And we wonder why so many young persons with same-sex attraction attempt suicide and sometimes succeed? Or why so many people in general want to have nothing to do with a church that keeps putting such conditions on love.

And, no, I don’t want to hear your take on the few clobber passages used to condemn gay and lesbian persons. That’s not the point here. It’s about what is more important than the other.

Not surprising, these Southern Baptist leaders seem more concerned about doctrinal purity than showing Christ-like love.

Babler warns families with gay or lesbian children to “keep their theology and their biblical belief intact, and not accommodate due to the fact that it’s one of their loved ones…” That’s a “big temptation,” he said in the article.

In fundamentalism, doctrinal purity trumps all else including love and grace. That’s why love is always conditional.

Fundamentalist Christianity, where a narrow view of rightness loaded with condemnation trumps all else, is one of the more hostile environments in which a young gay or lesbian person could find himself or herself today.

For fundamentalists, their beliefs are firmly set in the concrete of certainty that allows for no doubt or reflection — or admitting being wrong in the past — and empowers them to proclaim (as did Babler in this article) that the Bible is clear in stating that homosexuality is a sin issue.

Nevermind that such cocksure claims about the Bible’s clarity were and are used to justify human slavery, to portray persons of color as inferior to whites, and to demean women — as well as other injustices carried out in the shameful name of the Christian gospel.

These men, who want young people struggling with their sexuality to bear such shame, are the ones who should be ashamed themselves — ashamed of misrepresenting the Gospel, of calling Christian families to be less than fully loving of their children, and of putting the preservation of their losing cultural war and narrow doctrinal boundaries above all else.


John Pierce

About John Pierce

John D. Pierce has been executive editor of Baptists Today since 2000. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as a Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech, Southern Polytechnic and Kennesaw State. A native of Ringgold, Ga., he is a graduate of Berry College (B.A.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He speaks frequently in churches, consults with congregations concerning communications and holds interim pastorates. He and his family are members of Highland Hills Baptist Church in Macon.


  1. And, no, I don’t want to hear your take on the few clobber passages used to condemn gay and lesbian persons. That’s not the point here. It’s about what is more important than the other.

    Well…of course not, even though that puts you in the same close-minded class as the professors. Join their fundamentalist club. More important than the other what? Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson is now getting a divorce from his husband. Is it the Sunday School approach to say that we must love poor Gene, a well-educated biblical scholar, who already has two children by a real wife? Until about the 70s, homosexuality was considered a physical/mental disorder and maybe a minute percentage were born “that way,” probably about the same percentage as those born with spina bifida. Today, homosexual behavior is a thing of choice and actually glorified on every hand. My town has just enjoyed its ribald “pride parade.” Oh yes…should we also not use the “clobber passages” about murder and stealing or (gasp) adultery? In a Louisville, Ky., high school, a male student has now been given permission to use the girls bathrooms and locker-rooms because he insists he is a girl, never mind the obvious. Jesus fingered Sodom as the paradigm of evil in Matthew 11, and that’s worth a thought.

  2. Jim Clark, you seem to be implying in your statement that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality. However, according to the prophet Ezekiel that was not it at all. From Ezekiel 16 we read: “48As I live, says the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.”

    • How many times have I heard this silliness. You take verse 49 and completely disregard verse 50, knowing full well (at least I hope) to what the abominations were, separate and apart from the lack of hospitality already discussed. Abomination: “worthy of or causing disgust or hatred: DETESTABLE.” In Matthew 11, Jesus was talking about repentance of SIN, not feeding the poor. The lethal sin of Sodom was homosexual behavior; otherwise there wouldn’t have been any cities left because negligence concerning the poor was/is present in every city, thus the incineration of all of them! That hasn’t happened but Sodom and Gomorrah burned. Political correctness and the Bible are often mutually exclusive, as in this case.

  3. Johnny, thanks for writing this article. I’m guessing you get more comments from the Pharisees than the Jesus crowd, so I wanted to send you a “well done.”

  4. It seems to me that too much rhetoric is wasted on the subject of tendencies – the “nature or nurture” question. How a person came by a tendency toward any sin is irrelevant. The main point is whether or not the tendency gives birth to action. It is not the tendency that God despises, but the behavior that results from indulging our own desires. A temptation to exceed the speed limit, keep an overpayment of store change, lie, or gossip is not a sin until it is acted upon. In the same way, those who experience either opposite or same-gender attraction are not at fault until they act upon that attraction and engage in sexual behavior outside of biblically specified parameters, whether as a voyeur or active participant. That’s what James was talking about when he said that “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15). And denying one’s sexuality is not the big deal people make it out to be. Christianity is a self-denying faith. Jesus said that if we want to follow him we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (Mt. 16:24, Mk. 8:34, Luke 9:23). That means saying no to ANYTHING in our lives that does not bring glory to God. No matter how people want to rationalize it, sexual immorality of any kind is still on the list of behaviors that offend God’s holiness, and we will be held accountable for our involvement or response to all of them.

  5. Good job, John.

  6. John,

    Keep these articles coming – they provide conclusive evidence that you, who like to call yourselves “moderate Baptists”, are, in reality, on the far left of the theological spectrum, are not Baptists any any legitimate sense of the term, are ministers of the Devil and that the Southern Baptist Convention did itself and its posterity a huge favor when they outed you.

    • Mark, your comments reflect how far to the right you are and if your views reflect the majority of Southern Baptists (I hope not) then it could be arguable whether the SBC is becoming more of a cult than a Christian denomination.


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