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Sexual orientation law not good for Nashville, Land maintains

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Nashville Metro Council bill reportedly designed to secure employment and housing rights for homosexuals remains alive, as supporters work toward wording that allegedly will exempt churches and other religious groups.

In a televised panel discussion Jan. 31, Richard Land expressed his opposition to the proposal, noting that recent history has proven that such sexual orientation laws open the door to even more abuses of private and religious rights.

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was joined on “Public Forum,” a public television program in Nashville, by Kenneth Kantor, rabbi of Temple Micah, and Donald Sensing, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in nearby Franklin.

Land said the ordinance, as originally proposed, did not exempt religious groups nor define sexual orientation. “Does this mean Nashville employers will be forced to deal with transgendered persons and allow their male employees to wear dresses?” he asked.

“In other states, municipal sexual orientation laws have been used to aggressively go after groups like the Boy Scouts,” Land said, noting that scout troops were not allowed to use public facilities and that some United Way chapters cut off funding to troops because they were allegedly breaking the law by not allowing homosexuals to serve as leaders.

“I think these laws do more harm than good,” Land said. “I don’t think people should discriminate, but this law will be misused.” Even with religious exemptions, groups such as the Boy Scouts will be targeted because they are private organizations, he said.

Kantor said he couldn’t disagree with Land more. “Boy Scouts meeting in publicly funded [facilities] that exclude citizens of the community based on sexual orientation is a problem,” he said.

Land said religious exemptions are not a surefire protection against the reach of such local statutes. He said there are cases of judges and government groups using local municipal ordinances to override the established religious exemption of certain groups, citing a case in the District of Columbia in which Georgetown University, a Roman Catholic school, was forced to allow a pro-homosexual rally on its campus.

In this case and others, municipal codes on sexual orientation are trumping religious institutions’ freedom of religion, Land said. “We don’t need this in Nashville,” he said.

The homosexual community has a higher-than-average income and more disposable income than the heterosexual community, Land said, noting he was not aware of widespread discrimination against homosexuals.

“This is a dangerous road to go down,” he said. “To give sexual orientation special protection under the law that others don’t have intrudes upon the rights of private and religious organizations.”

In response to questions about a handful of strident anti-homosexual picketers at a recent council meeting, Land said any suggestion that God hates homosexuals is not merely offensive, but blasphemous. “God loves all people, homosexuals, transvestites and transsexuals. God loves everyone,” he said.

Yet homosexuality is unbiblical, Land said, describing his stance as based upon deep religious convictions. While Scripture condemns homosexuality, it also makes clear that homosexuality is a lifestyle that can be changed, he said, citing 1 Corinthians 6 in which the apostle Paul tells of those in the church in Corinth who were once in sin but were freed by the power of Jesus Christ.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” Land said, quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Rabbi Kantor suggested the writers of Scripture could not have understood what science knows today about genetic dispositions and addictions, thus allowing for modern reinterpretations of texts that state a different view of homosexual behavior.

Land disagreed, noting Kantor and himself have a “fundamentally different attitude toward the Scriptures.”

“I don’t think the writers were bound by what they knew 2000 years ago; I believe they were divinely inspired and that the New Testament, that is, the new covenant in Christ, is timeless in its authority,” Land said. “The apostle Paul was not just talking out of his own knowledge; he had divine inspiration,” he added.

“There are people who have a propensity to alcoholism but that doesn’t mean we give them a free pass to be a drunk,” he said. “We have before us a clear moral code in the New Testament.”

Land said even some future discovery that homosexuality is genetically predisposed would not change his view. “Even if science determines there is a genetic link to homosexuality, that does not give anyone license to go against the clear teaching of the New Testament,” he said.

“There is nothing that can’t be overcome in a relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.

“The apostle Paul’s statements about homosexuality are utterly unambiguous,” Land emphasized, quoting from Romans 1.

“They worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator,” he said, again quoting Scripture. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another.

“I do not see anything ambiguous about that. I do not see anything culturally contained about that,” Land continued. “If Paul was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then homosexual behavior is a particularly unnatural sin. It is the only thing in New Testament described that way.”

Nashville Metro Council will continue its deliberations on the measure Feb. 4.

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  • Dwayne Hastings