A West Virginia Baptist association expelled one of its churches after the pastor declared that the church should accept homosexuality as not sinful.
Pastor Valerie Gittings of First Baptist Church affirmed that she believed that homosexual behavior was not an affront to God and should be embraced within the church so long as it was practiced in monogamy, according to The West Virginian. Valerie also reportedly supported local legislation that would make sexual orientation a protected class, according to the Associated Press. The Fairmont Baptist Association voted to dis-fellow the church after the congregation refused to accept their pastor’s resignation.
“I think it’s important for people to know that many progressive Christians reject outright the idea that homosexual behavior is a violation of God’s law. We believe that the references to homosexuality in biblical passages are not toward committed, monogamous relationships. Rather, what is being condemned is inhospitality, heterosexual rape, pagan ritual sex and orgies, and pederasty. We contend that gay orientation is not a choice; not only should gay behavior not be viewed as sinful, but gays are entitled to the same treatment as heterosexuals. We believe that gays should be welcome to participate fully in all areas of life, including the church,” Gittings said in an email to The West Virginian.
Gittings said that she is hopeful that the Rochester Genesee Region of American Baptist Churches will grant her church fellowship, as they have accepted other churches who have been dis-fellowshipped for taking similar stances on homosexuality and holding other unorthodox positions. The church issued a statement in response to the association’s vote saying they were “greatly saddened” and that they “remain hopeful, therefore, that at some point in the future the association will return to the Baptist fundamentals of soul liberty and local church autonomy, and we will be able to work together once again.”
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