General Question

KNOWITALL's avatar

Do you think this Texas church handled this issue correctly?

Asked by KNOWITALL (14856 points ) January 31st, 2013

The pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Dallas hasn’t stopped preaching that homosexual sex is sinful, but he no longer singles it out for special condemnation. Now, Jeffress says he usually talks about homosexuality within “a bigger context of God’s plan for sex between one man and one woman in a lifetime relationship called marriage.”

“It would be the height of hypocrisy to condemn homosexuality and not adultery or unbiblical divorce,” he said, explaining that the Bible allows divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion. He also includes premarital sex on that list.

In a 2011 survey by the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute, 62 percent of adults between 18 and 29 years old said they supported gay marriage and 71 percent supported civil unions. Among adults 65 and older, those numbers were 31 percent in favor of marriage and 51 percent for civil unions.

Asked about the perception that “religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues,” 69 percent of the younger group agreed with the statement.

Another recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that nearly 20 percent of adult Americans now describe themselves as unaffiliated with any specific religion and the problem for evangelical churches is apparent.

“Evangelicals have been sobered by studies that show people are dropping out of church in droves,” said Bill Leonard, dean of Wake Forest University’s Divinity School. That has affected how they relate to marginalized people, including gays and lesbians.

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32 Answers

Seek's avatar

Source?

zenvelo's avatar

While I disagree with his take on homosexuality and same sex marriage, I will at least give them credit on finally being consistent on divorce, adultery, and premarital sex.

Shippy's avatar

Fellowship is for everyone.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@zenvole I agree, and based on the statistics above, I think it’s possible that churches may become obsolete eventually due to narrow-mindedness.

zenvelo's avatar

@KNOWITALL I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so my view on it is a bit different. There are a lot of churches around here that are quite inclusive and accepting. So don’t consider all the churches obsolete.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@zenvelo Sorry, I meant the evangelical’s who feel as though they need to reform gay and lesbians into hetero marriage, like some churches in my area of the Midwest/ South.

gambitking's avatar

The pastor seems to be acting on principles referenced in the Bible. That’s what a pastor is supposed to do. That’s what a church is supposed to follow. Otherwise, he might not be fit to be a pastor. It’s really as simple as that.

Judi's avatar

It’s a step in the right direction. This change of heart thing is an evolution. She says from personal experience

josie's avatar

Nobody has to belong to a church. So if they don’t like it they can drop out as you have noted.
It is up for the church and it’s remaining members to decide if they want to change, or disappear.

I don’t believe in most of what they preach, so I don’t belong to a church.

I don’t believe in “God”, and I get to say so with impunity. So I guess they should get to say what they want too.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@josie The religious Right has a pretty powerful sway in politics so to me, it’s pretty significant. That’s 11,000 more people who may not be being told every Sunday that gay people are ‘de debil.’

gambitking's avatar

@KNOWITALL – There are religious liberals too, so I think “religious right” is a misnomer. Also, the conservatives might simply be more tolerant of respecting peoples’ religious belief, so the apparent imbalance of religion on the right side is likely more illusory than people realize.

Secondly, our President openly discusses his Christianity, prayer, blessings and spirituality. So yeah, religion is a part of politics, at the very top in fact. So one could say “Obama is religious. He has a HUGE sway in politics. Therefore, religion has sway in politics.”

That’s faulty logic, and even if it wasn’t, the sway is clearly not that significant compared to the equal rights and civil liberties movements.

I’m not sure what you meant by 11,000 more people not hearing about gay people on Sunday but kudos anyway for the hilarious waterboy reference.

Carinaponcho's avatar

This Texas church handled the issue in a very common way. I’ve seen many churches handle similar situations in ways like this. While I don’t agree with the church’s beliefs, it is Biblically accurate. Many churches exaggerate the Bible’s words about homosexuality. At least acknowledging the other “sexually immoral” deeds doesn’t single out gay marriage as an issue. In is in the Bible that premarital sex, homosexual sex, divorce, and adultery are condemned. While I believe that these things aren’t bad, the church is only following their doctrine.

Carinaponcho's avatar

Also, being defined as religious doesn’t necessarily define you as conservative. Faith has no tie to political identity. One can believe in God, and faithfully attend a church, and still support issues that the Bible condemns.

rooeytoo's avatar

First it says 20 percent of adult Americans now describe themselves as unaffiliated with any specific religion. Then it says studies show people are dropping out of church in droves. Does 20 percent constitute droves?

I believe in live and let live, I agree churches are shooting themselves in the foot in many cases. I am just intrigued by the terminology, droves??

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JLeslie's avatar

So, let me get this straight. He is saying the church should be more inclusive so they don’t lose members. It makes me want to ask why is membership so important? Either the religion is ok with homosexuality or not. This isn’t about relaxing a dress code for church on Sunday, this is supposedly a big deal the gay thing. I don’t think it is the same as divorce and adultry, although I appreciate he sees there are all sorts of people accepted in churches who are not doing exactly what the church professes to be the right path. Being gay for a homosexual person is like being straight for me, I just would not compare that to cheating. Falling short of a promise to love and honor them is not on par with being wanting to be commited to someone you love.

It’s putting homosexuality still in with doing something that is wrong. Ok, so you’re a sinner, but everyone is a sinner so we will still welcome you into our church.

Doesn’t make me feel great.

And, do I understand correctly that he is still saying marriage is only for heterosexuals? If I were gay that would not work for me. I guess for people who are raised Christian who yearn for acceptance within their community, this is a step closer. Still, it cannot be completely comforting I would think.

@rooeytoo Unaffiliated with a religion is different than leaving the churches. I am affiliated with Judaism, but I don’t go to temple.

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rooeytoo's avatar

@JLeslie – But if the 20% represent the “droves” who are becoming unaffiliated, my question is that 20% doesn’t seem like droves to me???

This preacher sounds like a politician and when you think about it, there really isn’t much difference is there!

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo I agree with the politician part. My point was the comments about identifying with a religion and attending church are two separate ones. It seems to me the 20% number is a stat the journalist who wrote the article came up with; the droves comment is a quote from the preacher. My question about membership being important in my first answer is a money question. Fewer members less money coming into the church. I think most Christians do believe in the whole save your soul and being/living as a Christian will give you a better life, etc., it isn’t all money. And, this is true for all organized religion, the money has to come in to sustain the churches and pay the clergy.

Droves might be an exaggeration, but I do think Christians feel they are losing a hold in America. It makes them very nervous for many reasons. Many of them firmly believe America is blessed by God and when we stray from his teachings America suffers as a country. That our country is special to Jesus Christ. It’s a mixture of the bible belt becoming more and more diverse as people move around now and as cities grow. The suits brought against schools and government for including prayer or religion are now always caught by media with our 24 hour news cycle, and Christians counting on the Republican party to affect what they want, but there is a constant push back against it even within the party. The Evangelicals feel bombarded I think, and as another resent Q stated, oppressed.

As the minister in the wedding I attended recently said to the couple, “you have made the choice to be Christian when it it is politically incorrect to do so.” Something like that. I guess some of them feel like the whole country is going to the atheists and to hell in a handbasket.

Seek's avatar

@rooeytoo

Re: 20% being “droves”

You have to compare the 20% current poll with earlier polls. In 2008 Gallup reported 6% of Americans believed no god or universal spirit exists. In 2010, they reported 16% of Americans have no religious affiliation.

The Pew Forum (referenced in the OPs article) has 15% of Americans religiously unaffiliated in 2007, compared with 19.6% in 2012. That’s a rise of almost 33% (feel free to correct my math).

This comparative chart is interesting, showing Protestant affiliation on the down-swing while the “nones” are on an equally dramatic upswing. The Catholic line is creeping downward, but slowly and steadily.

This chart shows a drop in church attendance.

here is the whole article. It’s quite an interesting read.

JLeslie's avatar

I once heard a stat that 50% of church attendance only go for social reasons or peer pressure. Meaning, they were not religious really. This I have known for Jewosh people for a long time. A lot of synagogue attendance is for community reasons, cultural reasons, etc. Butm I was surprised to hear this about other religions. I wish I could find a stat about it to read up on it. Don’t take this 50% statistic as truth. But, it does imply that if people are grouping together at other places and through other means, the church becomes less necessary for those who went just because their neighbors do. The club I belong to gets together about twice a month, and some of us who are close friends more often. When I lived in FL our communities had pools and a social calendar full of various things to do. For those who are not religious going to church took away from time to do what we wanted to do. While for others church is where they see friends, the church holds events, family friendly cookouts. I just went to a fashion advice and dinner event a few weeks ago with a friend at one of the big mega churches here. 5,000 seats inside. Big trinitron screens. I estimate about 500 women showed up for the event. Men served the food which I thought was nice.

So, what I am getting it is leaving the churches; previously, maybe mentally they were out of the church and their religion in a way anyway.

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie That was the hardest part about leaving the church: Simply trying to figure out what to do on Sunday mornings and weekday nights. There was always something going on at church.

I’ve only recently jumped back into society with both feet. I’m going to my first martial arts class next week, I’m starting to get involved with the American Humanist Association… Looking forward to having that sense of community again.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gambitking Some people think religion doesn’t influence politics as much as I do. I think you might have meant “liberals” are more respectful of religious differences, most conservatives are not in my opinion. And the church has 11,000 members (see Q above.)

@Carinaponcho I feel hypocritical going to church and obeying a different set of ‘rules’, and most of my friends don’t attend for the same reason. I have gay friends, and friends with gay friends, I’m not going to fellowship with people who truly don’t share my love for my fellow man. Like I always say, if they aren’t welcome, I don’t consider myself to be welcome.

Seek's avatar

11,000 people. Assume half pay tithes. So tithes on 5,500 people. If those people only make minimum wage (say, roughly $8 an hour) that church is bringing in $160,000 a week, tax-free.

That’s a lot of incentive to become more inclusive.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Exactly what I’m afraid of, the business/ money aspect of churches is in incredibly poor taste. One church in my area actually has gold leaf on the walls and has a ton of members. Embarassing and rude.

ragingloli's avatar

He is still ignoring the condemnation of mixed fibre clothes and the consumption of shellfish.

gambitking's avatar

@KNOWITALL , no I definitely meant conservatives are more tolerant of religious beliefs. America is predominately Christian, as are most conservatives making up the “religious right”. As such, they don’t really have a problem with things like “Under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance, or prayer in some schools, etc. Liberals, on the other hand are very intolerant of such things and it does extend beyond the separation of church and state topic.

The church as we know it has been demonized by the equal rights movement because of its stance (gays are sinning, pro choice is wrong, etc). If you ask me, it’s the civil liberties and equal rights advocates that are bringing religion into politics because of this.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gambitking Not in my neck of the woods. Christians don’t like AOG, AOG doesn’t like Fundamental Baptists, Fundamentals don’t like Southern Baptists, and they all agree that Catholics are evil…lol

I’m a Christian but except for my belief and love of God/ Jesus, I want nothing to do with most churches. I believe God is love and we are not to judge each other, if someone is gay that’s between them and their Deity. Same with Abortion. PM if you want to talk more.

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