There is no valid, Christian, biblical argument against same-sex relationships between consenting adults, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship pastor says in a new book.
Jim Dant, pastor of First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., said the recently completed Illumination Project study of various attitudes in CBF life on matters of human sexuality wasn’t in his mind when he sat down to write This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians.
Dant called the fact the book’s release coincides with a new CBF hiring policy that qualifies LGBTQ persons for some, but not all, Fellowship jobs “a tad serendipitous.”
Still, he hopes the 79-page volume released by Nurturing Faith, a publishing venture in Macon, Ga., launched in 2015 by the independent newspaper formerly known as Baptists Today, will help churches, small groups and individuals sort through the shift from an earlier policy barring outright the employment of “a practicing homosexual.”
Dant, whose church went through a discernment process before deciding in 2015 to include members in all areas of congregational life regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, said the book grew out of a need expressed during meetings of First Baptist’s LGBTQ support group and his own conversations with LGBTQ Christians.
“I’ve spoken these things multiple times to persons and groups, but they kept asking for a small, portable, simple and interesting written document they could carry and keep close,” he said.
Dant says the views presented in the book are nothing new, but most academic presentations of an LGBTQ-favorable interpretation of biblical texts are inaccessible to the average reader. He says the volume “is not intended to be a thorough theological discussion of sexuality in the biblical text,” but rather “a survival manual for those on the firing line.”
Thanks to media coverage of his church’s non-discrimination policy, Dant said he hears often from people lecturing him that the Bible is “clearly against homosexuality.”
“Ironically, the Bible is clear on the subject, but clearly not in the way they think,” he writes. “There is no valid, Christian, biblical argument against same-sex relationships between consenting adults.”
“Persons may argue against LGBTQ identities, relationships and rights based upon economic, political or personal perspectives,” he argues, “but the Bible cannot credibly be used as a weapon in these fights.”
In the book, Dant provides alternative readings to Bible verses and theologies he says are “unfairly imposed upon LGBTQ persons” and offers practical advice to churches on the way to becoming welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ Christians.
The pastor described response to the book as “overwhelming and far-reaching.” The first release event in San Francisco drew more than 250 people. He has received “thank you” notes from Australia, Asia, Europe and all over the United States and is getting more invitations to speak and interview requests than he has time to accept.
“Of course, with all the accolades, I get the accosting notes and messages as well,” he said. “So it goes.”
Dant said a group of private donors has purchased copies of This I Know to be given away at the Nurturing Faith booth in the exhibit hall at this summer’s Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas.