It seems that many are coming to the defense of Dr. Al Mohler after he affirmed, at the recent annual gathering of Southern Baptists in Phoenix, a statement where he called Southern Baptists liars and homophobic. Dr. Mohler has always been clear about the biblical position concerning homosexuality. His articles and thoughts have been the ones that Southern Baptists, in particular, and Evangelicals, as a whole, have turned for research to position themselves on the side of scripture. Thus, a quote in a secular article was the catalyst for the question from Peter Lumpkins. The article attributes a quote to Dr. Mohler that seems to be in disagreement with Dr. Mohler’s position on homosexuality. How did Dr. Mohler respond to this article? He wrote an article expressing, not that he was positioned in agreement with Jay Bakker, but that Jay Bakker was using “clobber scriptures” out of context. How did Dr. Mohler respond to the question? He adamantly affirmed the words were his and then proceeded to re-establish his position that homosexual behavior is a sin, but was more than a choice by the homosexual.
How others Defend Dr. Mohler
In an article on American Family Association Blog Roll by Elijah Friedman writing from the The Millennial Perspective, Friedman states:
“It’s important to note, though, that Mohler didn’t make these comments because he wanted to start a controversy. A certain fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor challenged Mohler on the floor of the Southern Baptist convention, forcing Mohler to mount a defense of his views.”
There are some problems with Friedman’s defense. First, Friedman describes Lumpkins as the “fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor.” Given that Friedman is not a Southern Baptist I am giving the benefit of the doubt that he does not understand Baptist Polity. Peter Lumpkins was not asking the question as a “fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor” he was asking the question as a duly elected messenger from a Southern Baptist Church. Second, Friedman describes Peter Lumpkins as “challenging” Dr. Mohler with a question. Dr. Mohler was not “challenged” to do anything. One can view the entire video of the question and Dr. Mohler’s answer. He was merely asked about a quote, completely out of character for Dr. Mohler’s position on homosexuality, and if his words were taken out of context.
In a blog article from Dr. Ed Dingess, he takes the position that lends concerns about Dr. Mohler’s statements.
“I wish Dr. Mohler did not say, “We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice. Well, it’s clear that it’s more than a choice.” This lends fodder to the ungodly contention that homosexuality is beyond the control of the homosexual.”
Dr. Dingess certainly sees the issue and has spoken clearly to the concerns of Dr. Mohler’s statement. Dr. Dingess goes on to express his concern about another part of Dr. Mohler’s statement.
I really, really wish that Dr. Mohler had not said, “We have also exhibited a form of homophobia.”
Homophobia is a very polarizing word that comes with an exceptionally broad definition. First, homosexual supporters use the word to manipulate those who disagree with them. Here is how it works in the real world. Homophobia is identified with immoral people who commit acts of violence or discrimination against homosexuals.
Dr. Dingess clearly articulates the concerns about Dr. Mohler’s statement. The ending of Dr. Dingess’s article states:
“I think I understand where he was going with his remarks. I just wish he had said it differently.”
I will have to disagree with Dr. Dingess’s assessment because I certainly do not know where he was going with his remarks. If Dr. Mohler wanted to say that Southern Baptist Churches were losing members because of a harsh tone we have taken in the past concerning homosexuality, he should have said that. But Dr. Mohler said Southern Baptist had lied because we told only half the truth. To address this from another position it seems that Dr. Dingess has pointed to the precarious position that Dr. Mohler’s statements have placed us. Can you just hear the homosexual community now? “The very papers the SB use to address this issue are suspect because their leading spokesperson on homosexual issues has now expressed they have already lied.”
Now, May I Defend Dr. Mohler
First, I do not believe that Dr. Mohler has changed his position on this issue. While he has stated some things that seem suspect, I believe he just did not clearly articulate his position.
Second, Dr. Mohler has certainly expressed the truth about the homosexual issues before us. He clearly calls homosexual behavior a sin and something the Bible clearly says is sin. He also has clearly expressed that homosexual behavioral sins are sins that can be forgiven but only under the blood of Jesus.
Third, Dr. Mohler is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and in that position I respect him as such. I will disagree with him, especially the way he handled himself on this question. However, I have respect for him as one of my seminary presidents.
Now, My Concerns about Dr. Mohler’s Response
Dr. Mohler was asked a question by a duly elected messenger from a Southern Baptist Church. The question was worded in a way to give Dr. Mohler a way to defend the statement. The question was not targeting Dr. Mohler in his statement but was instead expressing a doubt that Dr. Mohler made the statements. Peter Lumpkins even asked, at the end of the question, if the author of the article was mistaken or if the words were used out of context. Dr. Mohler chose to, not address the question, but to elaborate on his position that homosexual behavior is sinful.
Dr. Mohler, in his elaboration of this issue, is now on record expressing two things that I believe he should re-evaluate. First, it is clear that Dr. Mohler accepts the cultural/scientific argument that homosexual behavior is not tied to choice alone. His assertion that we have used the “choice language” seems to be code words like “clobber scriptures.” I do not believe science has presented enough evidence to prove that homosexual behavior is attributed to anything other than choice alone.
Second, Dr. Mohler has stated we have lied and are homophobic. His position for the lie, he seems to establish, is that we have only shared half the truth. He positions the half-truth we have shared is we only share the scriptural tenets of homosexuality. This he says is half the truth. Dr. Mohler needs to re-evaluate this position as he seems to tie the veracity of scriptures truth to the human attitudes. Scripture is truth and has the power to save regardless of one’s attitude toward the persons in sin. I believe the book of Jonah, in the Old Testament, proves that fact to us. Dr. Mohler also uses the term “homophobic” to describe Southern Baptists. It would do well to remove that word from his vocabulary when describing others that are not reacting to homosexuals in the manner he desires. Certainly there are bigoted and contentious people when it comes to this issue. However, as Southern Baptists as a whole, we have refused to surrender to the demands of culture to the point of disobeying and rejecting biblical truth. Dr. Mohler, by using the term “homophobia” has now done the same thing to the Southern Baptist Convention that he says the liberal media has done to Evangelical Conservatives.
When gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are wrong. Our concern about the sinfulness of homosexuality is not rooted in fear, but in faithfulness to the Bible — and faithfulness means telling the truth.
I believe that Dr. Mohler needs to reassess his position on the use of homophobia and his statement that Southern Baptists have lied.
What is the hard point in all of this for me? I am now on record as being opposed to a statement made by a respected leader in our convention. Why is this hard? I have always been one that has called for giving our leaders the benefit of the doubt when there is disagreement. We do not know the background activities about many of their positions and we should not be so quick to rise up against a direction they may lead us. However, regardless of the background issues, Dr. Mohler is now on record expressing that the Southern Baptist Convention has lied concerning the nature of homosexuality and this lie is a result of homophobia masked as a biblical mandate.
I defend Dr. Mohler’s right to express his opinions and I believe he has certainly expressed them well concerning the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. However, I cannot defend his position that Southern Baptists have lied and we are allowing homophobia to drive us while using the scriptures to shield our fears.