JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–In a letter addressed to Southern Baptist leaders and lay leaders, Union University President David S. Dockery said the first week in August 2003 will be remembered as a pivotal moment in the direction of Christianity in America.
The letter was signed by representatives from across the university, including the chairman of the board of trustees and various vice presidents, deans and professors. Located in Jackson, Tenn., Union is affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
In the Aug. 11 letter, Dockery referred to the Aug. 5 decision by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church to confirm Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first openly practicing homosexual as a bishop in the church.
“The leadership of Union University has resolved not to let this moment pass without expressing deep regret over this decision to condone behavior clearly in opposition to Holy Scripture, while at the same time calling Christians everywhere to unite in seeking God’s guidance for wisdom, courage and grace,” Dockery wrote.
“These are times that try the soul of Christ’s church,” Dockery wrote, noting, “For nearly two millennia, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ worldwide has faithfully rejected the practice of homosexual behavior … because [Christians] understood that the New Testament knows nothing of the blessing of homosexual unions much less the ordination of persons to church ministry who indulge such sexual desires.”
Citing a quote by Episcopalian minister Sandye Wilson of the Minnesota Diocese in The New York Times, Dockery said Robinson’s supporters hailed his election as a major advance while a few, such as Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, firmly disagreed. Wilson said it was “a great day for the church” when Robinson was elected; Duncan asked God to “have mercy on His church.”
“Like Bishop Duncan, we too pray for mercy,” Dockery wrote in the Union University letter. “We renounce any unjust reprisal or harm against homosexual persons that would violate the common rights enjoyed by all Americans. We do, however, reject the notion of special rights for such persons whether they be attempts to make gay men bishops or same sex couples legally married. God saw fit to make marriage the oldest institution in His earthly creation and decreed that its sacredness be a covenant relationship between one man and one woman.”
Dockery described the call to live lives “of both love and courage” as “a difficult art. But if ever there was a moment for followers of the Lord Jesus to take a stand, that time is now.
“We commit ourselves afresh to our great God and to His Holy Word and pray that He will strengthen the conviction of His people and revive the church for whom Christ died,” Dockery wrote. “With faithful believers through the ages we pray for the church to not only be one and universal, but also holy and apostolic. Union University pledges to help encourage, exhort and cooperate with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ at this significant moment in the life of the church worldwide.”