Sex in the City: Boundaries and Grace/Thoughts on Royal Lane Situation

On Saturday, March 6th, Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News broke a story about a ministry decision made by the Royal Lane Baptist Church of Dallas. His opening line captured the essence of the situation when he wrote:

“A church, like a person, can come out of the closet. And that’s what Royal Lane Baptist did recently.”

Royal Lane under the leadership of its Senior Pastor David Matthews posted on their website this description of their fellowship:

“Royal Lane Baptist Church is an inclusive, multi-generational congregation joined in Christian community. We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.”

There is much right about how they described themselves in terms of their inclusiveness that reaches beyond many of the walls that separate us—especially on Sunday mornings. However, the disturbing statement about “sexual orientations” pushed the boundaries of the vast majority of Baptist churches.

In 1989, Cecil Sherman, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, preached a sermon entitled:

“Homosexuality: Alternate Life Style or Sin?” In his sermon, he did a wonderful job wrestling with the issues raised by homosexuality in our society today.

Sherman was very insightful when he spoke of the challenges faced by the church today in responding to the hurts and needs of those who struggle with or have embraced a homosexual lifestyle. He noted wisely that historically the church has settled in one of three places:

“1. One part of the Church would say homosexuality is the worst of sins.

2. Another part of the Church is silent. These congregations are confused, mixed up, pulled in two directions. They want to be forgiving and open; they want to be faithful to the Bible. These people are waiting for some order or direction.

3. And a third part of the Church is ready to accept the view that homosexuality is not sinful and that the Church ought to weed out the judgmental people who would exclude.”

In response, it is my prayer the “silent” church will speak up and speak out. I personally feel the extremes hurt the cause of Christ, and diminish the hope of the gospel. However, for “silent” churches to end their silence the confusion must cease, and the gospel must light a path of grace and boundaries into the future. If ever the tension between the grace of God and the holiness of God were put to the test it is when we deal with any besetting sin that mars and redefines our understanding of personhood. Homosexuality is not alone in this impact on the human soul.

Please pray for the leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the leaders of Royal Lane Baptist Church that as they meet in the coming days, that the LORD will open a path before them that will be redemptive and offer hope to all who need hope while staying true to the Word of God.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Sex in the City: Boundaries and Grace/Thoughts on Royal Lane Situation

  1. Brice Mandaville

    You’ll be in my prayers as you meet this week.

  2. doug evans

    We really do need to love them until they ask why… Sometimes that love is letting them be who they are…and when they are making bad choices…even God Himself refuses to invade the freewill choice of mankind…let them decide who they are and Love them like you do yourself…even if they are heading totally off course…in that love they will know where the safe place is when they like all prodigals want to come home

    • Doug,

      Thank you for sharing your heart on ministry. Love does have an amazing impact on the heart. Sadly, love is not a visible in the church today as it needs to be.

      One of the challenges when dealing with besetting sins is how to “speak the truth in love.” Jesus was clearly the friend of sinners yet holy in every way. We could learn much from His example.

  3. doug evans

    Well for years the truth in love has been defined by a church who never asked folks if they can feel the love…I think it may be time to love on folks till they ask why

  4. Scott Shaver

    Is it the role of silent factions within the church to speak out on this issue or is it the role of those who hold prophetic office (pastors) to speak out whether anybody else does or not? I think probably the latter. Quit looking for ways to share or diffuse the heat and do what they’ve been called to do.

  5. Scott,

    Clearly those entrusted with the Word of God must be willing to declare its truth no matter how popular or unpopular their position may be. On this matter there is much divide within many Christian circles.

    I agree standing by faith on one’s conviction of truth is essential in one’s spiritual journey.

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