Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; (1 Timothy 1:9-10 KJV)
While the error of the KJV-only stance is evident to the Biblically astute, it is often helpful to read this translation to get a more vivid flavor of the English translation of God’s Word. So, in reading Paul’s first letter to Timothy, we find the Apostle’s words translated in the vernacular of the king’s English with a particular vigor and poignancy that more modern versions may seem to lack. It’s just that often blunt phraseology that sometimes helps drive home the Scripture’s meaning. Such is the case here.
In the ESV, the apostle’s words above seem to somehow lack the same bold levity, though they are no less foreboding in their meaning.
understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine; (1 Timothy 1: 9-10 ESV)
While “whoremongers” from the KJV certainly carries a weightier tone than the ESV’s “sexually immoral,” the latter translation allows for “those who defile themselves with mankind” to be more easily understood by modern ears with its use of the phrase “men who practice homosexuality.”
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9)
According to two news reports (HERE and HERE) Wilshire Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas and First Baptist Church of Austin, Texas are facing removal from the Baptist General Convention of Texas for their culturally tolerant, though Scripture-defying, affirming stance on the LGBT issue. Each church publicly affirms their acceptance of openly LGBT members.
In a warning letter to Wilshire’s Pastor George Mason, the 5,000 church strong Baptist General Convention of Texas advised that “should your church choose to publicly affirm same-sex sexual behavior, the BCGT will no longer be able to accept funds from the church, seat its messengers to the annual meeting, allow the church to express affiliation with the BGCT, or allow its members to serve on the BGCT boards, committees, or other roles.”
The Convention issued a statement that clarifies its position in dealing with these two churches.
“This is a painful time for Texas Baptists. We have deep respect and appreciation for the churches involved. While Texas Baptists are loving, respectful and welcoming to all people, we have a longstanding and often reaffirmed biblical position on human sexuality.”
Wilshire Baptist recently passed, with 61% approval, a resolution that elucidated its LGBT-affirming position for membership, leadership, and participation in baptism and weddings. In response to the state convention’s warning that it “did not want Wilshire’s support,” Pastor Mason seemed to wave the big stick of money. “The BGCT appears to care more about institutional survival than missional partnerships,” he said. He and the Convention Executive Director had been in conversation about “ways the church might continue to support BGCT missions causes and work together on matters of shared concern.” (Source)
Hopefully, with regards to Wilshire, the State Convention will find the loss of Wilshire’s coins in the coffer to be irrelevant to the need to adhere strictly to the clear teaching of Scripture.
First Baptist Church of Austin responded to the BGCT warning first by claiming “as a church, we did our diligent theological work, being guided by the Spirit” and came to a conclusion that “we are proudly and openly welcoming and affirming of all God’s beloved children.”
Of course, the obvious error in this lofty-toned congregational soul searching is the pesky little truth that the Holy Spirit never disavows what He has previously avowed in His Word. What was sin in the first century has not suddenly become a “good work” in the twenty-first.
The Austin church’s letter then struck back at the BGCT accusing it of being guided by blind, money-motivated power. “From our perspective, the current model of discernment being used by the leadership of Texas Baptists is based on money and influence…”
On their website, First Austin’s senior pastor Griff Martin doubled down on his congregation’s willful intent to disregard what Scripture teaches. “We want to take a stand for both LGBTQ full inclusion in the church and the historic Baptist distinctive of church freedom. This is who we are and we are proud of our stances.” Of course, in complete disregard for the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy to “avoid such people,” (2 Timothy 3:5), this pastor and this church are “proud” of their defiance to Scripture.
Perhaps it’s not spurious to suggest that, as with the churches addressed by our Lord in John’s Revelation, they too seemed to exhibit the same “we’ll do what we want the way we want” attitude. But He commanded them to repent or risk the removal of His presence from their midst.
To the church in Thyatira, as the pastors and leaders of these Texas churches would do well to consider, the Lord said,
I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:20 – 23)
But the BGCT seems to be standing firm. “The BGCT had to make a decision based on principle and precedent, in light of the positions adopted by messengers to the annual meeting and actions taken by the Executive Board.” The convention’s executive director, David Hardage, stated that, “I believe a church can be welcoming but not affirming. I believe that it is not only possible, but also biblical.”
The sad, though Biblically forewarned, reality of Texas will become more pernicious. For those who aren’t merely “Christian” in name only, we can expect, as Paul warned Timothy in his final letter to the young minister, “that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” (2 Timothy 3:1) The reason for this “difficulty?”
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 2:2-5.
Add to that list of spiraling depravity Paul wrote about to Timothy the evident “giving them up” judgment of God that he describes in Romans, a judgment that is most vividly seen in the removal of His restraining mercy and permitting them to pursue deviant, unnatural sexual passions.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)
The imperative for the authentic believer is clear. To stand with God means to stand in obedience to all things He teaches in His Word. In the United States, where the culture is poised and ready to demand a relaxed, tolerant, modern interpretation of a “living” Constitution – one that changes with the times – the Bible-obedient believer does not have, or need, that luxury with the Holy Writ that directs our faith. The Bible’s truth claims are immutable because its Author is immutable.
With Paul, we must be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
For a couple of churches in Texas, that claim is clearly one they’ll not be able to make. But they won’t mind … it comes from Scripture … and they clearly have no regard for that.
Pray that these churches repent or else face the loss of obedient, true believers who should rightly avoid them. More eternally worrisome for these churches, though, is the loss of His presence. They may have “the appearance of godliness” but, without repentant obedience to the truth of Christ in His Word, they are “denying its power” and thus are not, in fact, faithful churches of our Lord. They are selling a false, damning, “other” gospel that may bring the praise of some men, but is sure to command the eternal wrath of God.
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]