Al Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the Christian Science Monitor in March that Baptists have lied about homosexuality and practiced a “form of homophobia.”
Responding to questions about the CSM article, Mohler affirmed his belief that same-sex sexual behavior is sin, but then told the Associated Baptist Press:
“But we as evangelicals have a very sad history in dealing with this issue,” he continued. “We have told not the truth, but we have told about half the truth. We’ve told the biblical truth, and that’s important, but we haven’t applied it in the biblical way.”
“We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice,” Mohler said. “It’s clear that it’s more than a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful, but it does mean it’s not something people can just turn on and turn off. We are not a gospel people unless we understand that only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.”
Rev. Mohler and I spoke together in 2008 at a meeting of Christian psychiatrists at the 2008 APA convention. He was saying the same things in that address and has consistently attempted to incorporate current research into his thinking about sexual orientation. Clearly, this stance has not changed his exegesis of Scripture, but he is calling evangelicals to stop at least some lying about gays.
On cue, however, is Bryan Fischer to quickly criticize Mohler for telling the truth. Fischer wrote:
On the whole, this was not a great week for the Southern Baptist Convention, as one of its leaders appeared to pander to the homosexual lobby and the convention itself pandered to lawbreakers, all in the space of two dizzying days.
Rev. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, urged attendees at the SBC’s annual convention to “repent” of what he called “a form of homophobia,” without saying exactly what kind of homophobia he was talking about.
Evidently, according to Rev. Mohler, if you don’t believe gays are born that way, you’re either a homophobe or right next to it. He told the delegates at the SBC that homosexuality is “more than a choice,” and that it apparently borders on something sinful to believe otherwise.
He did not elaborate on exactly what he meant by “more than a choice,” but what else could it mean but that he’s urging SBC’ers to accept the bogus claim that homosexuality is innate and that people can be homosexual from birth. Perhaps that’s not what he meant to say; if it wasn’t, then it’s important for him to clarify exactly what he did mean.
Mohler is pretty clear it seems to me. He is aware that research is not on the side of people who claim that being attracted to the same sex is a choice or some kind of easily reversible situation.
What a strange situation we have in the evangelical fold. One of our leading theologians speaks out on a issue of significance, and the culture warrior Bryan Fischer attacks him as he might an ideological opponent. Instead of considering the message, he attacks the messenger. I have experienced this myself and believe that the only orthodoxy that matters to the evangelical culture war complex (e.g., AFA, AFTAH, FRC, CWA, Liberty Counsel) is, “thou shalt demonize the gays.” All else is measured by this metric.
Many reading this blog will no doubt believe that Mohler does not go far enough and still promotes a harmful rhetoric. Others will understand that he is speaking to his constituents in language they understand which may help them come to a more honest, graceful place. I think Rev. Mohler can move a little further but, for now, I am glad Mohler is calling out the evangelical culture war complex and hope he continues to do so.