SPRINGFIELD — Missouri Baptists here in August fought a grim battle against the advancement of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) agenda through a civil rights protection ordinance in the Springfield City Council.
When dozens of Christian citizens showed up at city hall Aug. 27 and appeared to be numbering up to and beyond the 281-seat capacity, city council members voted 7-2 to table the vote on the ordinance. Mayor Bob Stephens complained afterwards in the Springfield News-Leader of “unrelenting harping” from the pro-biblical marriage advocates and silence from ordinance proponents.
“Many cities across the nation have faced this issue,” said Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director John Yeats. “Some cities have capitulated to the noisy homosexual lobby that does not represent the views of the majority of the citizenry. However, the majority of the best community leaders are people of principle, people of character, and people of genuine compassion. They understand that this type of ordinance is not healthy, profitable or necessary for their community.”
The pastor of First Baptist Church here, Michael Overton, found himself thrust into the controversy when the Springfield News-Leader sought him out for an interview. Overton maintained a biblical plumb line of loving the people involved while standing up for the truth and “not attacking the person by any means,” in order to “help that person find God’s better will for their life.”
Overton disagrees with the statement that he is on the wrong side of history in that ordinances like the one being promoted in Springfield represent progress.
“Right now there is zero scientific evidence to say that this homosexual/transgender lifestyle is a genetic, born with, or innate situation,” he said. “In fact, it’s just the opposite. To call this a civil rights issue when there’s no evidence behind that, it’s clearly an opinion, and then to use that opinion to trump First Amendment rights, to me that’s simply overstepping one’s authority. So I think history will prove itself down the road. I know it will in God’s kingdom. It will prove to be true that this is not an acceptable moral lifestyle. I think God’s Word is very clear on that.”
Overton worked with Greene County Baptist Association Director of Missions Mike Haynes on Aug. 21 to get pastors in the association to sign a statement expressing concern about the ordinance. A total of 19 pastors signed the statement within the first 24 hours of its release. Overton also encouraged his deacons to contact individual city council members on the matter.
During the course of the debate, Overton tried to put himself in the shoes of his fellow pastors in the city who proved to be sympathetic to the cause of the LGBT lobby. For example, one of these left-leaning pastors was quoted in the News-Leader as being sensitive to the so-called plight of homosexuals who would claim to be harmed by the mere sight of Christians purchasing food at a local Chick-Fil-A in support of the Christian owner.
“I simply don’t understand that perspective,” Overton said. “I hear that, and I understand what they are saying, but I don’t see how when we simply demonstrate our freedom of speech how that is hateful, hate speech, or hurtful to someone else. Maybe if you see this as a civil rights issue, perhaps then maybe I could understand that, but since I don’t agree with that basis there it’s hard for me to comprehend that.
“Truth is offensive, no doubt, but it’s aimed at all of us. We’re all sinners. Thank the Lord for coming to give His life for us that we may have salvation and forgiveness.”
David Krueger, chairman of the Christian Life Commission of the MBC and pastor of First Baptist Church in Linn, lamented the advancing of the radical LGBT agenda in Springfield.
“This ordinance is not about ‘tolerance’ and ‘anti-discrimination,’” Krueger said. “It is meant as a club to bash anyone who would disagree with or oppose LGBT sexual behavior.
“The LGBT community has moved far beyond asking for mere tolerance of their sexual preferences. Now they are demanding that the rest of us approve and even celebrate their behavior. If we don’t, then we’re ‘intolerant’ and ‘bigoted.’ It never seems to occur to them that they are asking others to do something that they are unwilling to do themselves—tolerate those who act or think differently than they do.
“A community is treading on social quicksand when it seeks to protect a class of people based solely on a behavior. LGBT activists have all but won the media battle in America. Many if not most Americans have fully accepted the premise that LGBT individuals are ‘born that way’ and as such deserve the same civil protections that we accord those of a different race, creed, sex, handicap, age or nation of origin. Yet, there is absolutely no scientific evidence for a ‘gay gene.’
“As Christians, we know that some people, for a variety of reasons we may not fully understand, struggle with same-sex attraction. From a biblical perspective we know that this is a consequence of sin that has resulted in a fallen world, and a human nature that chooses what is contrary to God’s revealed will. I have no doubt that many pedophiles would also claim that they are ‘born that way.’ Will they be next in line demanding that city councils tolerate, or even celebrate, their sexual proclivities?
“We need to love LGBT people, pray for them and support those who would seek to leave the lifestyle. We fully believe that Christ offers forgiveness for homosexual behavior for those who turn from their homosexuality and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sin. However, we must not surrender biblical standards of righteousness, but must oppose the political agenda of LGBT activists.
“We reject the notion that those of a different race, creed, sex, handicap, age or nation of origin, which are by-products of birth given by the Creator’s design, and gender-orientation, as a behavioral choice made by individual persons, are to be compared as equal social issues.”