A trending story in the Chattanooga LGBT Twitterverse is that Robby Gallaty of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga has said some horrible things about homosexuals. There are tweets that report that he said that, “Christians should never accept gays,” “Don’t stop hating gays,” “God wants them put to death,” and other such nonsense. These statements are nonsense not only because they completely misrepresent what the whole Biblical narrative teaches about those who practice homosexuality (among all the other sins), it’s also nonsense because Gallaty never said those things. All you have to do is actually watch his sermon, or even just watch the abbreviated video posted on Rawstory.com. Mr. David Edwards does a bit of a spin job as well with the title of the article and some of the convenient quotes that he pulls out of context. I realize that no one should be surprised at this sort of tabloid reporting, but it still remains a juvenile way of approaching disagreements over religious convictions.
I might have offered a slightly different sermon than Robby, based on the 8 min portion I heard, but from what I heard he did a fairly accurate job of representing the harsh realities of God’s Old Testament decrees as they correspond with, and fall under, the grace filled way in which Christ took punishment for the sin of all believers on himself at his crucifixion. Again, I have not heard the whole sermon, but the controversial portions include nothing that is controversial to those who hold to the authority of the Biblical text. Protestant denominations such as Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, and others all hold to the progression of the gospel narrative from Old to New Testament that Gallaty presented in his sermon. Raw Story and Mr. Edwards should do interviews with other local Chattanooga pastors such as Timothy Tinsley at First Presbyterian, Chris Sorenson at The Mission Chattanooga (Anglican), or Kevin Smith at New City Fellowship. I believe he will find a similar understanding of the orthodox understanding of sin as he interviews those men and many others.
I realize that there are highly volatile voices on both sides of this issue that need to be rebuked and guarded against, but Robby Gallaty is not one of them. I might have spoken a bit more on the complexity of sexual orientation and of the proactive role that churches should take in equally addressing all sexual sins, but my understanding of the biblical text would land with Robby and his explanation of God’s plan of sanctification for those who trust in Christ Jesus as their savior and lord.
Lastly, I hope that most readers and literate citizens of the world understand by now that most of the time someone uses the term “homophobia” it is a complete abuse of the word. There is no fear of persons involved in the convictions that most Evangelicals have concerning the sinfulness of homosexual behavior. There might be an increasing desire to redefine the word in order to allow it to include “disagreement with homosexual behavior,” but that is simply a political abuse of the English language. Nevertheless, Robby and others like him will continue to be targeted by the growing LGBT community in Chattanooga. There are certainly amiable, friendly citizens of Chattanooga who identify themselves as homosexuals, but there are also those that will cast hateful accusations and demonize the persons they feel threatened by. Hopefully the religious communities and LGBT community in Chattanooga will approach one another with more respect in the future than was portrayed in Mr. Edwards article and the tweets of those who desire to create drama.