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According to the Huffington Post:
The Rev. Robert Jeffress has changed the way he talks about homosexuality from the pulpit.
The pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Dallas hasn’t stopped preaching that homosexual sex is sinful, but he no longer singles it out for special condemnation. Now, Jeffress says he usually talks about homosexuality within “a bigger context of God’s plan for sex between one man and one woman in a lifetime relationship called marriage.”
“It would be the height of hypocrisy to condemn homosexuality and not adultery or unbiblical divorce,” he said, explaining that the Bible allows divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion. He also includes premarital sex on that list.
More interesting things from the article:
Demographics isn’t the only force driving changes in the evangelical response to gays and lesbians. As it becomes safer for gays and lesbians to come out of the closet, it becomes increasingly more likely that evangelicals know gays and lesbians personally, researchers say.
“Over the last five to 10 years, evangelicals have been faced with the issue even more poignantly as their sons and daughters come out of the closet,” Leonard said. ” … It has become more difficult to dismiss `those people.’”
Justin Lee, founder of the Gay Christian Network, is one of those children.
Like most evangelicals, Lee grew up believing that the Bible was to be taken pretty much at face value, but in wrestling with the realization that he was gay, he has found a more nuanced way to read Scripture. Now he works to foster understanding of gays and lesbians within evangelical institutions.
“I do hear from church leaders and pastors, who say, `I already know where I stand, but how can I be more loving and gracious to the gay community without compromising my convictions?’” Lee said. “There are a lot of things I say, but chief among them is that the more you listen to people and ask about their lives and stories, the more you are able to show grace and love, even if you don’t agree.”
Jeffress, who has gay and lesbian members in his church, tries to be compassionate and understanding.
He said he is open to the possibility that sexual orientation has a genetic basis that cannot be cured or prayed away.
“I think we were too quick to dismiss the possibility of a genetic predisposition,” Jeffress said.
But that hasn’t altered his belief the Bible teaches that acting on homosexual desire is sinful, and he feels it is his responsibility to talk about it with his congregation.
“We cannot pick and choose what parts of God’s word we are called to share,” he said. “God gave it to us, not to hurt people, but to help people.”
But Jeffress said he was concerned that some other evangelical pastors were shirking this responsibility.
“My sense is that people are just avoiding the subject, by and large,” he said. “They are so bent on trying to add to the numbers of their churches that they don’t want to disenfranchise new members or be characterized as unfriendly.”
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