Megachurch orders all members to sign new anti-LGBTQ pledge to adhere to ‘biblical sexuality’

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Megachurch orders all members to sign new anti-LGBTQ pledge to adhere to ‘biblical sexuality’ or risk being cast out: Pastor defends oath as ‘an exercise in clarity in a sexually confused world’

  • First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, decided in October that all members must sign a pledge to adhere to ‘biblical sexuality’
  • Churchgoers have until March 19 to sign the promise or they ‘will be considered by the church to have resigned their membership’
  • The church claims it is ‘an exercise in clarity so that our members might understand our most fundamental commitments in a sexually confused world’

A Florida megachurch has asked its congregation to sign a pledge to adhere to ‘biblical sexuality’ to ensure its members understand their beliefs ‘in a sexually confused world’ – and warned they will be kicked out if they refuse.

First Baptist Church in Jacksonville decided in October to ask everyone in its 3,500-strong congregation to sign the statement by March 19. If they decline, they ‘will be considered by the church to have resigned their membership’.

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The pledge states: ‘As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. 

‘I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression.’

Megachurch orders all members to sign new anti-LGBTQ pledge to adhere to ‘biblical sexuality’

Heath Lambert, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, defended the controversial pledge

All members of the Jacksonville church (pictured) must sign the declaration before March 19

All members of the Jacksonville church (pictured) must sign the declaration before March 19

Critics say the declaration is homophobic, but Heath Lambert, senior pastor at the church, insisted it was not singling out gay people.

‘It does rule out the LGBTQ array of sins,’ he told Rolling Stone.

But, he insisted, it was not just a declaration against gay people.

‘Rape, incest, polygamy — all sorts of things are ruled out just as much as homosexuality.’ 

The church, on its website, said the declaration was ‘an exercise in faithfulness to Jesus Christ whom we trust and serve.’ 

The website states: ‘It is an exercise in clarity so that our members might understand our most fundamental commitments in a sexually confused world. 

‘It is also an exercise in love toward a lost world that desperately needs to know God’s standard for human sexuality.’

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the "Say Gay Anyway" rally in Miami Beach, Florida on March 13

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the ‘Say Gay Anyway’ rally in Miami Beach, Florida on March 13

Lambert said they wanted to make their views crystal clear.

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‘We wanted to be on record,’ he told the website. 

‘We want to be able to say, ‘Hey, everybody in our church believes that male is a biological reality; female is a biological reality.’ 

Lambert said that a 2017 ‘bathroom ordinance’, which gave trans people the right to use any bathroom they chose, was a factor driving the declaration.

‘And that has to do with decisions we make about who uses the bathrooms, and who gets fired, and who can serve as a pastor,’ he said.

‘We want to function as an authentically Christian organization.’ 

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