Leftists are in an uproar over a Jacksonville, Florida-based megachurch requiring its members to sign a so-called “anti-LGBT” pledge committing to adhering to “biblical sexuality.”
“As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression,” the pledge reads.
Below is a screenshot of the pledge:
First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is making their members sign this sexuality statement by March 19. Is this the adult version of the True Love Waits abstinence pledge? Because both are messed up. pic.twitter.com/BU58XLVGmJ
— Melissa Gopp-Warner (she/her) (@melissagopp) January 26, 2023
In a statement to Rolling Stone magazine, senior pastor Heath Lambert said that those who refuse to sign the pledge can still attend worship — they just can’t be formal members of the church.
Those who do want to be members reportedly have until March 19th to sign the pledge.
Naturally, the pledge has provoked massive backlash, with leftist critics accusing the church of perpetrating homophobia and Lambert of being a bigot:
Dude your homophobia is disgusting
— Roo55 (@Stephan14584171) January 28, 2023
Your statement’s a lie, “Doctor”. Many Christians reject your narrow beliefs, as do many Christian churches. You are no more faithful than they are. If anything, you seem to be the one ignorant of the teachings of Christ.
You’re just a bigot. Leave Christianity out of this.
— Colin Morton (@AColinMorton) January 27, 2023
Disgusting response. Being gay is God-given human BIOLOGY. “Homosexuality” wasn’t ADDED to the Bible until 1946 w the RSV’s creation. Your homophobia is NOT Biblical. It is the antithesis of Christ & of everything he stands for. What hypocrites & Pharisees you are… Shame on you.
— (@pjsparkles93) January 27, 2023
Hey @HeathLambert… I’m good. I don’t need to sign a document to stay a member of your church. I haven’t darkened the doors of that place since 2016. Sending this out to your mailing list is pathetic. Good luck reaching all* of Jacksonville.
*all = those who agree w/ your views pic.twitter.com/OqxlLxkOnx
— Jack Leon (@jackleon) January 26, 2023
But according to Lambert, the pledge doesn’t single out homosexuality.
“Rape, incest, polygamy — all sorts of things are ruled out just as much as homosexuality,” he said.
To address this and other concerns, Lambert invited every concerned local citizen to the church this past Sunday for an open forum discussion:
Jacksonville, if you want to talk about this sexuality statement, I’m ready to listen. If you come on Sunday night, you’ll find an open mic and a listening ear. pic.twitter.com/WZavG9VxP6
— Heath Lambert (@HeathLambert) January 27, 2023
“A lot of the people who are critiquing our church are members of communities that have community standards. Facebook has community standards. Twitter has community standards,” he said during the forum.
“If you go to the Kiwanis Club or a gym or a school, there are community standards. Of course our church can, should, and does have a community standard, and those community standards come from the Bible,” he added.
Watch the full forum below:
Lambert also penned a column for his church’s blog.
“This statement is a very straightforward and biblical statement. Without singling out any one specific sin, it summarizes God’s design for gender, marriage, and sexuality. This positive statement equally forbids the range of human sinful sexual expression, including fornication, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, transgenderism, and others,” the column reads.
He was correct. While the pledge may seem controversial to the secular, the fact remains that it jibes perfectly with the beliefs and teachings listed in the Bible.
Nevertheless, not every religious person agrees. Take Rev. Erin Dickey of the nearby Riverside Avenue Christian Church. Speaking with First Coast News, she argued that barring people from church is wrong.
“The mission of the church is to love one another and to care for our neighbor to build a just and generous community. Not to say who’s in or who’s out or to sign something to say yes this is what you have to believe here,” she said.
However, is it legal to force would-be members to sign a pledge? According to First Coast News, it is: “After taking into account local, state and federal laws, we can verify Yes, First Baptist Church is within its legal rights to revoke membership based on sexuality and gender identity.”
As to why Lambert chose to require a pledge, he pointed to a 2017 Jacksonville city “bathroom ordinance” as a threat.
The law reportedly allows transgender individuals to use the restroom of their choice. While it currently exempts churches, Lambert suspects that may change one day.
“We wanted to be on record. We want to be able to say, ‘Hey, everybody in our church believes that male is a biological reality; female is a biological reality.’ And that has to do with decisions we make about who uses the bathrooms, and who gets fired, and who can serve as a pastor. We want to function as an authentically Christian organization,” he said to Rolling Stone.
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