A Baptist church in Southern California has done the unthinkable: Its members have voted to welcome the gay community, going against the Southern Baptist Convention’s strict views on homosexuality.
“We will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship,” pastor Danny Cortez recently wrote in a letter to Patheos blogger and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians, John Shore. “We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgement. We will work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences.”
Cortez is the pastor at New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, CA. Earlier this year, he told members of his congregation that he did not believe homosexuality was a sin, and pleaded with them to consider changing their views as well.
“I pray that the church will no longer be segregated,” he added. “I pray that those who have been marginalized would feel safe in our churches. I pray that we as the church would set aside our difference and learn what it means to be the body of Christ.”
So why the sudden change?
Well, it turns out the change wasn’t all that sudden. In his letter to Shore, Cortez writes that it took him 15 years to reach the decision.
“I recently became gay affirming after a 15-year journey of having multiple people in my congregation come out to me every year,” Cortez explains. “It was especially the testimony of my gay friends that helped me to see how they have been marginalized that my eyes became open to the injustice that the church has wrought.”
But what finally did it was Cortez’s 15-year-old son, Drew, who came out to Cortez last August. In his letter, Cortez writes:
In August of 2013, on a sunny day at the beach, I realized I no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality.
As I was trying to figure out what to tell my church, I was driving in the car with my 15-year-old son Drew when a song on the radio came on. I asked Drew who sang it, and he said, “Mackelmore.” And then he asked me why I was interested in it. I told him that I liked the song. He was startled and he asked me if I knew that the song’s message was gay affirming. I told him that I did know and that’s why I liked the song. I also told him that I no longer believed what I used to believe.
As we got out of the car, I could tell he was puzzled. so I asked him what he was thinking. In the parking lot, he told me in a nervous voice, “Dad, I’m gay.” My heart skipped a beat and I turned towards him and we gave one another the biggest and longest hug as we cried. And all I could tell him was that I loved him so much and that I accepted him just as he is.
Though the majority of New Heart Community Church members voted to change their official views, many have refused to accept the decision, and plan to separate from the church on June 8.
The church is also at risk of being excluded from the Southern Baptist Convention being held in Baltimore later this week. According to the official Baptist Faith and Message adopted by the convention in 2000, “Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.”
“It has been a very tiring and difficult process,” Cortez writes. But, he adds, he is “thankful” to everyone who has supported him and helped him to come around on the issue. “This is a huge step for a Southern Baptist Church!!”
Another example of how coming out benefits us all. When someone personally knows or is related to a gay person, they often (but not always) soften their views.
If you can safely come out, do it.
I give this “guy” credit! I refuse to call him a pastor because of “We will work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences.” That is judgmental and nowhere in the Bible does it say that people who love ANYONE are sinners!!
How heart-warming a story this is of a very courageous Baptist minister, who realized the injustice of the traditional stance of the Southern Baptist Association! It has been a long struggle for him. He can now embrace and affirm his own son. There will be other Baptist church ministers who will also “see the light” and move away from the darkness of prejudice and fear.
No church anywhere has any business in an individuals sex life.
God has a great deal on his plate to deal with, you think he has time, or inclination to care what we do with our dicks?
The sin is in the forbidding, not in the affirmation.
The problem is that the religion really is anti-gay, and pro-slavery, and pro-genocide. All these things are specifically endorsed in the Bible. If they don’t like homophobia, slavery, or genocide then they should find a different religion, or no religion at all.
This is a great story, and hopefully the start of another Reformation, as people reject the negativity, hate, and Skymonster BS, in favor of the love, acceptance, and positive actions, which are also tenets. This works for me quite well, and “God as I understand Him” seems to have no problems with it. This is my belief, and I’m sticking with it. Athiests & Christ-haters, please spare me your @ BS arguments for each other.
@DickieJohnson : i’m an atheist. Why are you hating me?
How convenient: many people come out to him and his son comes out, and now he can accept gays.
Religion is so situational: fat preachers don’t rail against gluttony or sloth, pastors living a plush life don’t preach against greed or self-enrichment, reverends who are screwing everyone in their congregation don’t raise their voice against infidelity or adultery.
Here’s hoping people wake up and realize religion is superstition and nonsense designed to frighten and control.
@Stefano: I’m not hating you at all. Why would you say that? You’re certainly entitled to whatever view you like, but very often, on this site, non-believers tend to launch into a long tirade as to why we believers are wrong. Your opinion doesn’t make it so. I don’t try to convince you of my beliefs, nor should you try to convince me of yours. I say Tomahto; you can say #@&%$©?* if you want. Accept the difference, and move on. It’s called respect for another human being.
@DickieJohnson : It is OK with me but i just don’t like the way you said : “Athiests ans Christ-Haters, please spare me your @BS arguments for each others.” It is agressive and disrespectful to me.
Lets play a game, shall we? Lets open the bible at any place, point a finger anywhere on the page, and do exactly what it says. The last person to not be thrown in jail wins.
I applaud this man, the members of his congregation who have supported him and his son. This came at just the right time, because my own faith in people has been on the steady decline, but this brought a tear to my eye and hope back to my heart that we can reach people. Thank you, Queerty.
@DickieJohnson: BE NAIVE TO BELIVE! there will be NO reformation! that we started in the sixteen century and we still murdered millions in the name of the mental illness Christianity;
Hopefully it won’t cost him his parish when the convention rolls around-So Courageous of him, though, to take this point of view. GOD doesn’t make mistakes, and Jesus loved everyone- regardless. That’s what being a real Christian is all about. I just wish more so called “Christians” would realize it.
@Stefano: So sorry, but I find that most atheists on this site are particularly dissrespectful toward believers. Note the next [email protected]MezaienYou could be a lot happier were you not filled with hate, and all the BS about extermination.
I watched Rev Danny Cortez’s video and that of his son Drew and was DEEPLY moved by both. It’s wonderful to see his faith journey unfold towards acceptance. It’s a message that hopefully will be heeded not just by ministers but by all, even on here. I see posts here in which belittling comments are made by those who disagree whether it be by non-believers using terms like “Skymonster BS” or believers calling a group of non-believers “Christ-haters” emotionally charged words do nothing to advance meaningful dialogue. I especially liked in the video when he stated ” I don’t expect you to change your mind becasue I did…” Hopefully we all read and hear multiple points of view and from that make informed decisions, and keep our minds more open than closed.
@JRD Hopes: Hi, JRD. I’m the guilty party for the quotations you used. I’ve not seen your ID before, so, are you new here? My comments are mild compared to some of what atheists on here say about beliefs in Dieety, and how stupid, foolish, naïve, even meñtally ill we are to believe in ancient mythology and an invisible Spirit. I’m tired of their disrespect, and “arguments” which are baseless and vicious.
I grew up as a PK (Preacher’s Kid) of a Southern Baptist Minister. Had I had the experience of this PK with his father and their Church, my life would have been so very different and positive. Looking back, I’d like to think that I have helped, in some small way, for things to begin to change. But, I pray for this minister and his church. The SBC has already cut off so many churches for taking this stance. One day, perhaps it will be different, but that’s going to be a long way off.
Christians who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered need a welcoming and affirming place to worship and practice the faith in which they were raised, but cast out from. There is a hole in our souls when we are forced to leave the church because of who we are — without any abiding love given to what we still believe in our hearts. The door is slammed by both the faith community we are forced to leave and gay community we are thrust into. It creates a schezim in our psyche. Often many of us turn to drugs, alcohol and dangerous sexual behaviors to heal that tear in the fabric of our lives. We have come far in the past few decades. But we have a longer journey ahead of us.
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