Removed: Gays 'Would Not Be Accepted' As Saddleback Members
By Jon Ponder on 12/23/2008, 10:04am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

On Sunday, BeliefNet reported that the website for Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Orange County, Cal., contained a warning that unrepentant gays were forbidden from joining the church:

Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one's life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted as a member at Saddleback Church.

Yesterday, that section, which was part of a longer diatribe about the sin of homosexuality (see below), is gone. According to BeliefNet, this link led to the page banning gays. Now it connects to a page titled "What We Believe." BeliefNet is known for down-the-line reporting on religion. It was recently purchased by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp.

Via Good As You, there are are still offensive statements about gays on the megachurch site:

I’ve heard it asked, "Isn’t being homosexual something that a person is physically born with?" First of all, there are absolutely no facts to support this claim. From time to time studies have been reported in the news that seemed to indicate this, but every one of these studies has proven to be wrong. Secondly, even if some physical difference were discovered, it would be no excuse for sin. We know that some people can develop a stronger physical addiction to alcohol than others, but that’s obviously no excuse for living an alcoholic lifestyle.

While there is no consensus on what causes sexuality, there is no legitimate science that suggests it is fundamentally a choice. And comparing homosexuality to addiction is the sort of sanctimonious, anti-factual ranting for which megachurch Christians earn their reputation for feeble-mindedness.

Here is the complete statement from the Saddleback website as it was excerpted by BeliefNet:

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

The Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.

"Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin." (Lev. 18:22 TLB)

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6:9-11 NIV)

While all sin is destructive, Romans 6 warns us of the great dangers in sexual sin when it says, "Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body." (1 Cor 6:18 NLT) This includes not only homosexuality, but all sexual immorality: adultery, sex without marriage, pornography. We must not act as if homosexuality is the only serious sexual sin, and we must not act as if homosexuality is not a serious sexual sin.

I've heard it asked, "Isn't being homosexual something that a person is physically born with?" First of all, there are absolutely no facts to support this claim. From time to time studies have been reported in the news that seemed to indicate this, but every one of these studies has proven to be wrong. Secondly, even if some physical difference were discovered, it would be no excuse for sin. We know that some people can develop a stronger physical addiction to alcohol than others, but that's obviously no excuse for living an alcoholic lifestyle.

Finally, a word about being judgmental. It's not judgmental to say that what the Bible calls a sin is a sin, that's just telling the truth. Not being willing to talk to someone caught up in sin, or not believing that they can be forgiven, or thinking that you are not just as much in need of Jesus as they are ... that's being judgmental.

Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one's life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church. That does not mean they cannot attend church - we hope they do! God's Word has the power to change our lives.

In equal desire to follow Jesus, we also would not accept a couple into membership at Saddleback who were not willing to repent of the sexual sin of living together before marriage. That does not mean this couple cannot attend church - we hope they do! God's Word has the power to change our lives

By any rational analysis of the Scriptures, adultery is a worse sin than homosexuality, both quantitatively --- adultery is mentioned much more often --- and qualitatively --- adultery is forbidden in the Ten Commandments; homosexuality is not. Nor did Jesus ever mention it.

Adultery causes serious societal problems. It is the real threat to "traditional marriages," half of which end in divorce, usually because of adultery. Adulterers’ injured parties suffer severe stress and quite often financial hardship. Adultery is the leading cause of single-parent households. Children of adulterers are often emotionally scared for life.

Adulterers are 100 percent more likely to spread sexually transmitted diseases than are faithful partners. Adulterers are, by definition, liars.

And yet Christians like Rick Warren make no effort to rescind adulterers’ civil rights. Adulterers are free to remarry and adopt children. Unlike gay people, adulterers can’t be fired or evicted because of their status as sinners.

When the day comes that right-wing ideologues like Warren take action against the rights of adulterers, we can start to believe their moralizing is sincere. Until then, we have to assume that they are using the Bible as a fig leaf to cover their personal prejudices and, too often, their own twisted self-hatred.