A Southern Baptist Pastor did something remarkable not too long ago. Danny Cortez, a pastor in California, told his congregation that he no longer accepted the church's teachings on homosexuality. He didn't think it was a sin to be gay. He said that just a couple days after his own son came out publicly as gay so it was personal for him.
The reaction was kind of what you would expect. The church decided they would vote on whether Cortez could still be their pastor, whether he would still have a job.
But the amazing thing is that they voted to keep him. And they changed their own rules instead. They now allow members to hold LGBT-affirming beliefs. The church is now called a Third Way church, meaning they agree to disagree on "controversial" issues like gay marriage.
It couldn't have happened at a more important time either, because the Southern Baptist Convention just met this past weekend and a major SBC leader Al Mohler denounced Cortez and his church. He said there can't be a third way. There's the biblical way... or the way that'll send you to hell.
This is precisely the sort of thinking that causing so many young people to leave Southern Baptist churches. And it's not going to get any better while people like Mohler are in charge.
By the way, I've heard a lot of criticism of Pastor Cortez saying that it shouldn't have taken him having a gay son for him to change his mind on this. He should just realize that all gay people are somebody's sons or daughters. That's a fair point. But you know what? That's how a lot of people with bigoted views change. They happen to know someone who's gay and, all of a sudden, it becomes an issue they have to deal with directly. It's not just something that happens over there. It's not abstract. They have to deal with their stereotypes being proven wrong right in front of their faces.
And by the way, it's not even a correct criticism in this case, because Cortez had changed his mind BEFORE his son came out to him.
But let's say that wasn't true. So what if it took a gay son for him to change his own mind. At least he had the courage to change it. And good for him for standing up for his son when he might have lost his job over it.
Hemant Mehta, 2014