North Carolina Pastor: ‘Homosexuality Not a Sin’
AgapePress/Oct 2002/By Gary D. Harwood
Baptist Minister Says Getting to Know Homosexuals Has Changed His Beliefs
Tim Wilkins, director of Cross Ministry, says pastor is wrong
CHARLOTTE, NC (AgapePress) – Dr. Chris Ayers’ sermon on September 29 had a jarring title: “Homosexuality is Not a Sin: The Christian Education of a Baptist Minister.” About 75 people were in the sanctuary of Wedgewood Baptist that Sunday to hear the morning message. Wedgewood left the Southern Baptist Convention a few years ago because of the SBC’s stand on homosexuality, among other things.
“If anyone had told me 20 years ago I would no longer view homosexuality as a sin, and that some of my best friends would be homosexuals, I would have told them they were crazy,” Ayers said.
What He Said
Explaining that he had come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin “by talking to homosexual Christians, not by studying scripture,” Ayers began chronicling encounters with people he thought to be homosexual, beginning as early as elementary school.
Ayers said in the fifth grade he was beginning to notice girls, but he had a friend who did not seem interested at all. The boy was a loner and often the object of ridicule.
In middle school, his cousin drove a red MG, was handsome, and quite well off financially, but never asked a girl out on a date. There was also the women’s basketball coach, who appeared to be a lesbian.
In college, he encountered two apparent homosexuals, one of which led a Bible study. Ayers said the Bible study leader, sensing that Ayers had discovered his secret, said to him, “One day you are going to change.” These two fellow college students were “human beings with deep faith ….” Ayers said. “I cannot argue with their faith.”
Ayers said that “any time a homosexual walks through the doors of a church, it is a miracle.”
“Why, why would anyone who has been rejected so much open himself up to more rejection?” he asked.
The pastor then told the story of an organist at the church who died of AIDS.
“Sad stories. I’ve heard them. I’ve seen the tears of gays and lesbians. I’ve heard them sob. I’ve heard them weep. Someone, some Christians, some church, needs to tell the world about the tears and say as boldly as possible that homosexuality is not a sin,” he said.
“Some people believe homosexuals choose to be homosexual. No, what I have witnessed are homosexuals choosing to deny their sexual orientation, some even going so far as marrying a person of the opposite sex and having children.”
At this point, the pastor brought up the Bible. Ayers said that time would not permit a lengthy study on the subject. Instead he recommended the work of theologian Walter Wink, who says there are verses that deal with homosexuality, that we are all guilty of “pick and choose” theology, discarding some Bible verses, while hanging on to others. Ayers said that even Jesus did this.
To enforce his point, the pastor told the story of Peter, when he had the vision of all the unclean animals (Acts 10:9-16), and was told to kill and eat them. The vision appeared three times.
“My experience has been like that of Peter. I used to think homosexuality was wrong because the Bible said it was wrong. But I had a vision. Yes, I had a vision, a vision that came to me repeatedly,” Ayers said. “Because of some wonderful Christians who just happen to be gay and lesbian, I learned homosexuality is not a sin.”
The pastor said that Peter’s vision “instructed him [Peter] that the Bible he had read was wrong about what was unclean.”
What He Didn’t Say
Ayers did not mention that the primary meaning of Peter’s vision was that the Gospel was for the Gentiles, not just the Jews, which is interpreted by the verses that follow (Acts 10:17-11:18), as Peter preaches to the Gentiles. Nor did the pastor point out that the New Testament states that the ceremonial dietary laws are done away with in the New Covenant (Mark 7:18, Acts 10:15), but continues to condemn homosexual behavior.
Ayers did not refer to any New Testament verses that deal directly with homosexuality, such as I Timothy 1:10, I Corinthians 6:9, Jude 7, and Romans 1:24-27.
Some research into the theology of recommended theologian Wink might explain his endorsement of homosexuality. Regarding sexual morality, Wink has said that there are no “absolute sexual precepts universally valid in every time and place.” Regarding hell, he has written that a “belief in a place of eternal torments is unworthy of the highest forms of the Christian faith,” adding he “finds them [such views] reprehensible.” Wink, again on eternal things, states “the God we worship is a God of love and mercy who will see that no one is ever lost.”
Tim Wilkins, speaking for Exodus International, said that Ayers “is obviously coming from a position that preaches love, love, love.”
“I agree with him that the love point is important … but the highest form of love does not withhold the truth,” said Wilkins, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who came out of homosexuality about 25 years ago. “A doctor does his patient a great disservice in not diagnosing a great malignancy. The truth hurts before it heals.”
What about the experience touted by Ayers in his sermon? What about the argument put forth by Ayers that homosexuals do not choose homosexuality?
“By and large,” said Wilkins, “men and women do not consciously choose to have same-sex attraction. One of the mysteries of life is that we don’t get to choose what we’re tempted by.”
Homosexuality activity is another matter, however, as “they do consciously choose to become involved,” he said.
Wilkins said that unfortunately in liberal churches, “they have not been given an option. ‘This is the way you are … embrace it.’ It is a lie,” said Wilkins, who has been ministering to homosexuals for the last seven years.
Wilkins said he agrees with Ayers on one point. The church as a whole should get to know homosexuals. “The evangelical church needs to become more acquainted with those who are dealing with same-sex attraction,” he said. It is obligatory from a biblical perspective to respect individuals and yet reject choices they have made. Listen to gay people; listen closely, to help untwist the convoluted thinking.”
“The church has a responsibility to befriend and walk with [those tempted by a homosexual lifestyle]. We are more likely to walk people out of homosexuality, than to talk people out of homosexuality.”