NASHVILLE (BP)—Southern Baptist pastors and churches have a new theological and practical guide to help them address issues involving sexuality and gender.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) published the document “A biblical resource for pastors on gender and sexuality”on its website Oct. 11. The guide is intended to assist pastors and other ministry leaders in responding biblically to questions regarding issues such as gender dysphoria or discomfort, same-sex unions and what it means to be male or female, according to the ERLC.
The guide contains a section of theological fundamentals regarding sexuality and gender, as well as one offering advice on how a church’s bylaws should be updated to provide protection for its ministries. It also includes a list of other resources to help address such issues.
“To navigate the challenges of this world, Christians turn to the Bible, and that is just what we have done with this new resource,” ERLC President Brent Leatherwood told Baptist Press. “Whether it’s reminding readers of scriptural truths that are meant for our flourishing or practical steps for strengthening the ministries of our churches, we believe this guide will serve our convention as it confronts a deeply confused and often antagonistic culture with truth and grace.”
Leatherwood also said in written comments, “While it can be easy to get lost in national debates or social media controversies, our pastors are busy doing actual ministry on a daily basis to the individuals and families who are victims of the sexual revolution. My hope is that this resource, and future ones like it, will come alongside and assist them as they do this vital Gospel work.”
The six theological, biblically-based truths explained in the guide are:
— “God created you,” which means “we are limited by the design that God has given us.”
— “God created you with a body,” which signifies “our bodies are inseparable from who we are.”
— “God created humans male and female,” making them “distinct, yet equal expressions of humanity.”
— “God created male and female to complement one another,” a complementarity revealed in biology and “a range of social and relational aspects.”
— “The Fall affects how we perceive our bodies,” with gender dysphoria being an example of how “sin has warped our understanding.”
— “God meets those broken by the sexual revolution with compassion and grace,” and Christians can offer the same to others and seek their restoration.
The section on church bylaws provides guidance on steps that congregations can take to safeguard their Gospel-based ministries against potential sexual orientation and gender identity lawsuits. It offers counsel regarding a church’s statement of faith and religious employment criteria, as well as its policies on facility use, membership and marriage.
The bylaws section is a summary of advice provided in a 44-page guide published in 2015 by the ERLC and Alliance Defending Freedom and linked to in the commission’s new resource.