Former President Carter calls divisions among Christians a “cancer” in the church. He says that Christians around the world are noted for their divisions rather than their love. True enough. Like so many liberals like Carter who attended the New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta, Georgia, this past week, the solution to mend these divisions is to give up what the Bible clearly teaches on certain issues. Conservatives are most often described as “divisive” because they hold doctrines that “divide rather than united.” I have to point out that Jesus was not much of a unifier, and neither was Paul. Christianity is a religion of objective standards, because God is objective in His attributes and character. If Carter and these new Baptists want to unify the faith, then I suggest that they get back to what the Bible actually teaches.

Probably the sharpest division among conservatives and self-defined moderates is the subject of homosexuality. The Paul who wrote the chapter on love (1 Cor. 13) also wrote rather clearly on the topic of homosexuality (1 Tim. 1:8–10). Romans 1 begins with the gospel, mentions the wrath of God, and then gets specific on what constitutes lawlessness that leads to the disintegration of societies:

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error” (vv. 26–27).

Paul couldn’t be any more clear, John Boswell’s arguments to the contrary.[1] Law and love are not mutually exclusive. Paul defines love by the objective standard of the law (Rom. 13:8–10). John writes, “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it” (2 John 1:6; also see 1 John 2:3–4; 3:22; 5:2–3). We’re not doing the loving thing by telling homosexuals that it’s OK to practice homosexuality when the Bible specifically speaks against it.

I’m all for unity, but there is no way to unify when one group is clearly in violation of God’s law. Al Gore, who also spoke at the New Baptist Convention had this to say at a homosexual gathering on human rights in Los Angeles in 2006:

Saying there are “many kinds of love,” Gore referenced the “gay marriage” ceremonies performed at San Francisco in early 2004, and then said, according to a transcript: “[S]ome reacted with hatred and anger. What I saw that was just overwhelming was the love, the joy, the purity of the excitement that that love was being honored. It is that love, after all, that is at the heart of why everybody is here. That is what must be honored and respected. Your right to fall in love with who you fall in love with. And your right to expect that that will be recognized with the same dignity and honor that love is recognized for other couples.”[2]

Not only is Gore’s argument contrary to what the Bible says, if that isn’t bad enough, but its logic is frightening to consider. This is the same Al Gore who stood up at the New Baptist Convention, holding a Bible in his hand, appealing to the crowd to follow the directives of the Bible as they relate to the environment and heed its warnings about coming disasters. He’s all for “protecting God’s green Earth,”[3] but he’s not as enthusiastic in protecting God’s directives regarding what constitutes love and marriage and how their violation also lead to disasters (Rom. 1:28–32). 

[1] John Boswell, author of Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, argue that Romans 1:26 and 27 only appear to condemn homosexuality. He argues that Paul was criticizing sexual activity that is against a person’s nature. In Greek society, Boswell argued, homosexuality and bisexuality were regarded as “natural” for some people. Paul was criticizing heterosexuals who were engaged in homosexual activities against their nature. (Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality [Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1980]). Of course, this begs the question. It assumes that homosexuality is “natural.”
Michael Foust, “Al Gore affirms ‘gay love,’ now ‘gay marriage’?,” Baptist Press (April 20, 2006).
[3] Christopher Quinn, “Gore urges Baptists to help save Earth,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (February 1, 2008), D3.