Pure Religion and Undefilied

In response to the article in the Louisville Courier-Journal and other media reports that Dr. Bill Smithwick is asking the board of Sunrise Children's Services to consider hiring people who are gay to work in an agency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I wrote an op-ed piece for the Western Recorder and emailed it to Dr. Smithwick and all the members of the board. Here is the content of that article:

I am heartsick to think that Bill Smithwick would ask the board of Sunrise Children’s Services to reverse their longstanding policy against hiring practicing homosexuals to serve in an agency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. By even suggesting such an action, Mr. Smithwick has placed himself outside the overwhelming majority of the churches and people who have supported this ministry with their tithes and offerings given as unto the Lord. Through a dozen years of lawsuits and legal challenges, the Baptists of the Commonwealth have stood with Sunrise because the Biblical principles on which that ministry was founded were not for sale. Now Mr. Smithwick is asking his board to run up the white flag of surrender to the spirit of the age, all in the name of doing ministry on our behalf.

            When the board asked Kentucky Baptists for permission to drop “Baptist” from their name, we were assured that nothing substantial would change and the ministry would still reflect the gospel-centered and Christ-honoring values that had always defined it. Now we are left feeling duped, misled, and possibly robbed of the investment of generations of faithful people of God who were motivated to care for children because of their belief in the Word of God.

I do not question Mr. Smithwick’s love for children, but it would be immeasurably better to do what only we Baptists can afford without the government than to capitulate our convictions in order to get Caesar’s money. Separated from the gospel call to repentance and faith in Jesus, we only make the world a better place to go to hell from. When we assure the state that we will not “proselytize,” we promise a Christless social ministry that feeds the body and starves the soul. When we bend our beliefs to remain palatable to the culture or acceptable to the state, we cease to follow a crucified Savior who counseled us that the world would do to us what it did to Him.

            James wrote that pure and undefiled religion is to care for orphans and widows in their affliction, but also “to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). By suggesting that we should compromise on the latter in order to do the former, Mr. Smithwick has edited the inspired Word of God and is attempting to make faithful Kentucky Baptists complicit in his revision. We must not sell our birthright of God’s favor for a bowl of government contract pottage.

            When the board of Sunrise Children’s Services meets on November 8, their first order of business should be to refuse to compromise the clear teaching of God’s Word as suggested by Mr. Smithwick. Their second action should be to remove him as director for even suggesting it.