Response to The Recent Inflammatory Rhetoric
Our hearts are grieved today by the disunity, hatred, and pain that is plaguing our city of Watauga and the surrounding community. We are hurting because of vile words of condemnation calling for the death of our LGBTQ+ neighbors. We are also grieved by similar personal threats directed toward leaders of Stedfast Baptist Church.
We serve a God who loves every human with a love that is beyond our understanding. He demonstrated His love for all of us while we were still helpless by dying for all of us. (Rom. 5:6-8) In Jesus, God revealed Himself to us in “grace and truth.” (John 1:14) We believe our Lord Jesus desires that we stand firm on His truth while showing His love and grace to all our family, friends, and neighbors.
We strongly disagree with the message and tone of recent sermons released by Stedfast Baptist Church. This is especially true of the message preached on June 5th calling for the execution of all homosexuals. We also strongly disagree with the tone and message shown by the pastors and members of Stedfast Baptist Church at the Watauga City Council meeting on Monday June 13th. We do not believe this message or tone is honoring to Christ nor could it find support in the fullest revelation of the character of God displayed by His Son in the New Testament (Heb. 1:1-3).
Neither do we agree with any biblical worldview or atheistic philosophy found in LGBTQ+ movement in our modern culture. We hold that homosexual practices do not correspond to God’s design for sexuality. God’s Word describes His design for sexuality to be expressed through the monogamous relationship of one man and one woman committed to one another in the family unit. Because of this core commitment to God’s Word, we cannot affirm or celebrate any expression of sexuality outside of God’s design, including adultery or homosexuality in any of their forms.
However, we fully recognize that all people are created in God’s image. We seek to express the love of God for all our family, friends, and neighbors. While Jesus always stood firm on truth, He also displayed incredible love and compassion for all mankind whether in the “crowds” or when confronted with individuals caught in sin.
When Jesus looked over the crowds in Matthew 9, “he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.” When confronted with the woman caught in adultery in John 8 by several religious zealots, he directed that “the one without sin should cast the first stone.” One by one they all dropped their stones and began to walk away. Jesus’ response to the woman concluded with both grace and truth. “Go and from now on do not sin anymore.”
Conversely, Jesus reserved His harshest criticism for those same religious zealots. The Pharisees often made clear they were more concerned for their interpretation of the law than with the needs of hurting people. In one instance in John 9, Jesus was condemned for healing a blind man on the sabbath day. The Pharisees were more concerned about the perceived sabbath offense than the pain and suffering of the blind man. Jesus elevated the individual with love and compassion.
The love of God was clearly displayed by Jesus Christ in his birth, life, and death. We best display the whole character of God by speaking the truth of His Holy Word with love and compassion. It is not compassionate or loving to hide or cover up what we believe is God’s plan and design for mankind. Neither is it loving or compassionate to call for the death or execution of our neighbors.
We do not believe that the compassionate love of Jesus was on display at the city council meeting or in the recent sermon mentioned above. We reject the message espoused on these occasions and believe they are gross misrepresentations of God’s message delivered and demonstrated by His Son in Scripture.
Though we would likely disagree on many theological, philosophical, and lifestyle issues with our LGBTQ+ neighbors, our desire will always be to show love and compassion as fellow sojourners in this world. Understanding that some will not agree with our beliefs or message, we welcome all to worship and learn what we hold to be true from God’s Word by joining us in worship or study of Scripture.
Dr. Dennis Hester, Senior Pastor
First Baptist Watauga
Dennis Serratt, Deacon Chair
First Baptist Watauga