A JACKSONVILLE MEGACHURCH is requiring members to sign a new, anti-LGBTQ pledge committing to adhere to “biblical sexuality” — or leave the church. Describing the oath as “an exercise in clarity… in a sexually confused world,” First Baptist Church has given members and their families until March to comply.
The pledge compels members to renounce LGBTQ sexual- and gender- expression in favor or “God’s standard for human sexuality,” which the Florida church insists means there are only two genders, as well as that the only morally acceptable sexual “desire and expression” occurs within a marriage between one man and one woman. Unveiled last week, the mandatory pledge reads:
As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that 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.
Refusing to sign the pledge does not ban an individual from attending the house of worship, but it is a prerequisite membership, senior pastor Heath Lambert tells Rolling Stone.
In information accompanying the pledge, the church warns: “Your signature and updated contact information on this document is required by March 19, 2023, and will ensure your membership at First Baptist Church continues without any interruption.”
The megachurch’s effort to oust LGBTQ members is the latest manifestation of a reactionary zeitgeist now gripping Florida, one that Governor Ron DeSantis insists is making the Sunshine State the place where “woke goes to die.” The state government recently passed “Don’t Say Gay” legislation effectively outlawing LGBTQ education in public schools; it has also targeted racial minorities by banning the instruction of “critical race theory” and even blocking enrollment in a Black Studies Advanced Placement course. Despite centering the culture war in his church, Lambert insists: “I’m not a politician. I am a Christian.”