Refusal to change is killing Southern Baptists

Scott Green is a longtime friend, and I was proud to read his response to the recent actions taken against his church ("Gay Broadway Baptist member slams SBC," Dallas Voice, June 26). My family was a member of Broadway Baptist for about a year in the mid-1960s. Scott and I were both music majors at Baylor University in the late ’70s and early ’80s. At that time, and maybe still today, students could be expelled from Baylor for homosexual activity. I fell in love with one of my summer school roommates between my sophomore and junior years, and we had the audacity to live together my senior year.

Ironically, conservative Waco was more concerned about co-ed habitation than it was about gay couples, so our living together in a one-bedroom (two twin beds) apartment was perfectly acceptable to the city and university establishments. We experienced discrimination, however, when we were planning to move to Dallas and found that certain apartment complexes discriminate against same-sex roommates living in one-bedroom apartments.

Growing up in a Southern Baptist family, I experienced much more severe discrimination from the church. The church threatened homosexuals with eternity in hell, separated from the love of God. I believed their doctrine until puberty brought "evil" into my life, thoughts and feelings which were inconsistent with what I had been taught since birth. I was assured gay people were not Christians, and, since I knew I was a Christian, I could not possibly be gay.

I saw my "evil" thoughts and feelings as temptations, and believed enough prayer and contrition would make them go away. But even going to Baylor, the largest Baptist institution in the world, could not cure me. In fact, it was there that I embraced my God-given sexuality.

During my years at Baylor, I questioned many aspects of Christianity, especially as presented by Southern Baptists. Once I came out, I realized that there were too many inconsistencies between my life and the denomination.

I found no acceptance in any of the Baptist churches that I visited in Dallas. Like many of my gay, Baptist brethren, I eventually left the denomination. I felt that there was no place there for me, and by this time, I had been exposed to other denominations and I had learned about the liturgy.

I was attracted to the formality and beauty of the liturgy, and especially to the beautiful music that existed in the worship services of less-evangelical Protestant churches. My search finally led me to the Episcopal Church. I have been a happy, accepted and mostly proud member of the Episcopal Church for almost 25 years.

Like most conservative establishments, whether they be religious or political, the Southern Baptists are fighting change. Most people, especially liberals, know that change is inevitable. Anything that does not change, dies.

If one were to look only at the words of Jesus, one would see only words of love and acceptance. The only thing Jesus rebuked consistently were the religious establishment. He called them hypocrites. I think he’d use the same words for all the religious and political conservatives who want to be kept clean and pure from any dissention or different opinion.

Rather than preserving their organizations, they are simply preparing the body for burial.

Dr. Kerry Talley

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 3, 2009.

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