The Georgia minister whose antihomophobia sermon has been viewed by hundreds of thousands in an online video has turned out not to be the LGBT rights champion some have perceived him as — but he may have a more open mind than some clergy members.
“My message was not presented in an effort to ‘affirm the rights’ of the LGBT community,” E. Dewey Smith, pastor of Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church in Decatur, wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “My sermonic intentions and ministerial assignment is not to be the ‘pro gay pastor.’ My agenda is Jesus’ message and exaltation. I preached that sermon and in it confidently affirmed the humanity of and contributions that have been made to the black church by many from the gay community. I stand wholeheartedly behind that because it is the truth.” LGBT people who have contacted him since the video went viral have shown that they “only want to be respected, positively acknowledged and have their humanity affirmed.”
However, he continued, “I have always believed and taught that marriage is between a man and a woman. Even as society changes and my theology evolves around ministering to and being intentional about loving all people, my personal theology is still based on male and female relationships only. While this may disappoint many who have encouraged me over the past few days, please allow a mutuality of ‘tolerance.’”
“I do think it is important for us to distinguish between personal theology and public policy,” he added. “The Supreme Court ruling [for marriage equality] is an issue of policy. … The policy of this land has recently given same-gender loving persons the right to have marriage ceremonies, should they choose and the right for me as a Minister to not perform that ceremony.” He also noted, “The U.S. is not a theocracy.”
Of his sermon, he explained, “While there are several passages in the Bible that are used to condemn homosexuality, my point was that we often ‘pick and choose the sins that we highlight.’” Given so many different interpretations of the Bible, he wrote, “I really believe that an ecumenical forum of Bible Scholars and faithful preachers should convene to critically examine biblical texts pertaining to homosexuality.”
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