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 is executive editor of Baptists Today news journal (since 2000) and publisher of Nurturing Faith Books. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University. 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.