Southern Baptist church splits over whether to affirm same-sex lifestyle

Meredith Flynn —  June 3, 2014

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

A California congregation voted May 18 to retain their pastor, Danny Cortez, who had announced three months earlier that he affirms same-sex lifestyles. The decision by New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Ca., brings the Southern Baptist Convention to “a moment of unavoidable decision” just before its annual meeting in Baltimore, said Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler.

Cortez blogged May 29 on that New Heart will “formally peacefully separate” June 8, when a group affirming traditional church teachings about homosexuality leaves the congregation. The church took three months to study and pray over the issue after Cortez told them about his beliefs in February. Prior to Cortez’ confession to his church, his teenage son told him he was gay and posted a “coming out” video on social media sites.

The_BriefingIn May, the church voted to keep Cortez as pastor and become a “third way” church that stands in the middle ground between condoning and condemning same-sex relationships.

“So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship,” Cortez wrote on “We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgment. We will work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences.”

Despite the church’s decision, “there is no third way,” Mohler said on his blog.

“A church will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviors and relationships on sinful, or it will affirm them. Eventually every congregation in America will make a public declaration of its position on this issue. It is just a matter of time (and for most churches, not much time) before every congregation in the nation faces this test.”

That New Heart’s decision is in conflict with The Baptist Faith & Message, the SBC’s statement of faith, could result in discussion and/or action when messengers gather in Baltimore.

“I am confident that the Southern Baptist Convention will act in accordance with its own convictions, confession of faith, and constitution when messengers to the Convention gather next week in Baltimore,” Mohler said.

“But every single evangelical congregation, denomination, mission agency, school, and institution had better be ready to face the same challenge, for it will come quickly, and often from an unexpected source. Once it comes, there is no middle ground, and no ‘third way.’”

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“I am grieved we are clearly losing our evangelistic effectiveness,” said Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “I continue to pray for revival and a renewed passion for the Great Commission in our churches. May God renew all of us, including me, with a greater heart for the lost.” Read more at

A Southern Baptist task force addressed declining baptisms in a report released in May, ahead of the denomination’s June meeting in Baltimore. Read their report here.

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Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

One response to Southern Baptist church splits over whether to affirm same-sex lifestyle

    Gloria Austin June 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    The culture is influencing the church. The church’s business is to influence culture. Christians are taking an increasingly liberal stand on the moral absolutes that are clear in God’s Word. There is no compromise to moral absolutes-regardless of who’s pulpit “preaches” to the contrary.