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Senior Pastor Heath Lambert of The First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, defended his church’s statement on “Biblical Sexuality” that states God created two genders and made marriage a heterosexual institution.
Lambert, who was surprised by the backlash for something the church has believed for two thousand years, released the following statement after outcry from the community:
“It is not that we are any less sinful than anybody out there in Jacksonville. It’s not that we are any better than anybody who thinks our statement is a joke,” Lambert said. “It’s that we have come to confess our sin instead of looking at the Bible and railing against what the Bible says about sexual sin. We’ve said, ‘God, you’re right, and I’m wrong, will you please forgive me and [then] you wash me in the blood of Jesus.’ By faith, we are not better, but by faith, we are saved.”
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The “First Baptist Statement on Biblical Sexuality” details the church’s support for biblical gender roles and the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman, originally approved in October, which the church says will require all members to sign by March 19.
“As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe 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,” the statement read.
Lambert’s statement came after the church held an open mic event to listen to and discuss concerns from the congregation. A queer woman named Katie opposed the statement and condemned the church for supporting it.
“Yesterday, an acquaintance messaged me and told me about this forum. Their family has decided to stop attending this church considering recent events, which I encourage all existing congregants to follow,” Katie said.
“The decision to have your members sign any form of contract to attend turns your church into an organization, a club,” she added. “This church is no longer a religious place of worship welcome to all. These sexuality oaths are drawing a clear line in the sand, showing us who are truly welcome, which is by no means all.”
Lambert made a YouTube video reacting to the local news reports on his church’s actions, and he also wrote in more detail in a blog post titled, “Four Kinds of LGBTQ+ Churches.”
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