In a recent press release, a group called Faith in America has announced they will intrude into multiple public spaces of Phoenix during the yearly convention of the Southern Baptist Convention. Their goal is to demand that Baptists remove homosexuality from their list of sins and give Faith in America’s advocates bargaining power for a long-term conversation with the SBC. The conversation would hinge on what Baptists can do to make LGBT youth—which Faith in America calls “yOur youth”—happier and more affirmed within Baptist churches.
As an ex-gay Southern Baptist professor, son of a lesbian mother, leader of Mass Resistance Texas and Urban Game Changers Texas, and advocate for healthy Christian sexuality, I provide the following response.
The demands issued by Faith in America may reflect the sincere commitment by some people in their groups for greater flourishing among young people whom they believe are LGBT. Certainly, however, given the provenance of this group and its untenable demand that Biblical doctrine be changed to suit their political goals, some of these demands come from motives that are not suitable for the Southern Baptist Faith and Message.
Setting aside the question of Biblical doctrine, I would like to address the truth claims inherent in FIA’s demands. They claim that children can be “LGBT.” This flies in the face of our scientific knowledge. There is no organic difference between gay adults and straight adults, since homosexuality denotes a behavior, not an identity. Even less sustainable is the belief that teenagers or, even worse, pre-teens could “be” LGBT. Until puberty children do not understand sexuality the way adults do. Many teenagers experience same-sex attraction and then cease to experience it, or find it recedes and heterosexual inclinations increase instead. The current state of sexology indicates that sexuality is fluid, something that is acknowledged implicitly by those who use the term “LGBT” and include the “B” for bisexuals who can choose to couple with either sex.
Given that there are not really LGBT youths who match FIA’s untenable definitions, their claim that their organization’s advice and input serve some indispensable purpose falls apart. “Our” youths are our youths, not their youths. They are, first and foremost, Christians created in the image of God for the purposes God set down, as Jesus Christ reminded us when He came to give up His life to deliver all of us from the bondage of sin.
Additional statistics provided by FIA do not hold up under scrutiny since sexuality is fluid. For instance, the notion that a large percentage of runaway teens is homeless has little merit, when we consider that people cannot definitively identify their sexuality until their late teens, by which time they can be emancipated minors or are already old enough to live on their own. There is no reason for which a fourteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old should expect his or her parents to encourage them to be sexually active outside of marriage. If the “youth” has laid down an ultimatum to parents stating that such unacceptable permissiveness must be granted, the problem is not homophobia but apparently arrogant behavior encouraged in youth by LGBT culture at large.
As someone who has experienced different sides of the gay community throughout the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and today, I reject the idea that it is beneficial for minors to learn about the gay subculture and commit to being part of it. Rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, steroid abuse, intimate partner violence, sexually transmitted diseases, suicidal ideation, and sexual assault run very high in the “LGBT” community and these problems stem largely from the cultural dynamics among gay adults rather than from prejudice in society at large. The longer youths can focus on their studies, building strong relationships, and cultivating their faith, without the dangerous distractions from these problem-ridden local gay networks, the better.
Faith in America draws offensive parallels to race in its demands, which the SBC must reject vehemently out of respect for the many people of color appalled by LGBT activists’ attempts to equate world-historical struggles against racism with the Sexual Revolution.
Within the SBC, there are many people who had LGBT parents, were part of the LGBT community, or have LGBT relatives and friends, who also commit to the Baptist Faith and Message. There is now an established and comprehensive body of work among Christian apologists who want to bring spiritual guidance and Christ’s message to people who are wrestling with LGBT issues in their lives. There is nothing to be gained, at present, by involving Faith in America in discussions about how to move forward with these issues.
Given the frightening extent of LGBT efforts to force sexually suggestive curriculum to students as young as four, and given the efforts by grassroots Baptists to counter many unscrupulous tactics by people behind these efforts, the SBC should not give any appearance of agreement with Faith in America’s claims. They may put up billboards and try to embarrass us, but Baptists have the truth on our side. It came from God.