There are untold myriads of homosexuals in Southern Baptist churches. Of that, there is little doubt and of no surprise. Many homosexuals have taken the path of Jonathan Merritt, the homosexual son of former SBC president, James Merritt, and live a lifestyle of ambiguous sexuality. Some are emboldened toward a trend in once-conservative evangelicalism that has embraced Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) as a non-sin (so long as it’s not acted upon) and promote a response of lifelong celibacy. It’s more uncommon, however, for a Southern Baptist to “come out of the closet” and continue in the Baptist church.
Lou Anne Smoot of Tyler, Texas, has written a book explaining her odyssey as a Southern Baptist who suffers from a lack of regeneration, and with it, now-unbridled and unnatural sexual attraction. She recently did an interview with the Texas Standard newspaper about what it was like to be a lesbian Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher and what it was like to divorce her husband, marry her lover, and find a third-pew seat with her new lover.
Beginning her first lesbian experience in 1956, Smoot explains that she had a fornicative relationship with her college roommate at Baylor University, a Baptist institution of higher education.
When her father discovered love letters between the two over one Christmas break, he and his wife tried to convince their daughter to abandon homosexuality.
Well, of course, she shared with me what she had been taught, which was, it was sinful, and it was certainly an unacceptable way for me to live my life. Now, she and Dad had plans for me to earn my teaching certificate. And she told me that evening that no school district would ever hire me to teach in their schools. And then she explained that we would have a very difficult time just finding a place to live, that no one would rent us an apartment, and she said practically no one would even sell you a house. So, she painted a very bleak picture of our future together.
After two and a half years, her lesbian relationship ended and Smoot eventually became married to a man. However, after 37 years of marriage, Smoot decided to leave her husband and go back to her lover.
In the 1970s, Smoot traded love letters again with her former lover, who upon reading them with her husband, chose not to return the letters to Smoot. However, in the late nineties, Smoot decided she couldn’t let go of her penchant for sodomy (unnatural affection).
At that time I was 60 years of age. I was teaching a ladies’ Sunday school class in the First Baptist Church, and one day I was simply visiting with one of those members,” Smoot says. “And she began telling me about her son, who was an artist. And this thought came into my head, Her son is gay… I believe God put that thought in my head, and I believe pushed me into what I did next, which was ask this woman, ‘Is your son a homosexual?’ Well, you don’t go around asking people that question. Especially in Texas and a member of a Southern Baptist Church. Well, she was shocked. And she hesitated for a long time. And then she finally said, ‘Yes, but that’s just the way God made him. And God loves him just the way he is, and we should too.’
No doubt, there are countless stories like this. Sin corrupts, addicts, and eventually kills. What comes next in the interview is the revelation that once divorced, Smoot attended church with her lesbian lover and sits proudly on the third pew.
But then, I feel that God nudged me at that time. If I stayed, I told myself that I had a very unique opportunity to become known as a gay Christian – what to many, and maybe most and all the members of that church, was an oxymoron. So I decided to stay and then when my present wife, Brenda – and we have now been together over 17 years – when she joined me at the church, then together we became the church’s example of a gay Christian couple. And we made a point of sitting about the third row from the front in the center section, where everybody could see us.”
According to the audio interview, which makes it clearer than the written article by Texas Standard, Smoot remained in the Southern Baptist Church, not a more liberal church. There was no indication that Smoot has faced any action of church discipline.
Smoot said, “The Holy Spirit was pleased with the step I was taking.”
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