Jonathan Merritt is “one of America's most prolific religion writers” and a reporter for various news agencies including Religion News Service. He is also the son of former Southern Baptist Convention president James Merritt. In 2019 the pastor’s son chose to denounce evangelicalism and “seek God elsewhere.” On his 39th birthday Jonathan Merritt jumped out of the closet with both feet after years of repeated denial that he is a homosexual. Before I get to the details, you’ll need some background.
In 2012 Azariah Southworth, a “gay evangelical,” claimed he had a sexual encounter with Jonathan and chided him publicly for not admitting to being gay. According to Azariah, Jonathan,
The quote came from an article by Peter Lumpkins. Lumpkins reported that “Merritt routinely speaks for Baptist colleges, universities, and is a frequent speaker at Lifeway's events. In addition, two seminary presidents – Danny Akin and Al Mohler – have in the past supported views on various social issues.” (Source)
After their encounter, Southworth sat down with a Salon reporter and shared the graphic details in “Why I Outed a Christian Star.” (You’ll have to do a search for this article.)
Following the news of Merritt’s homosexual adventure with Southworth, Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries penned a piece entitled “Homosexuality and Jonathan Merritt” where he wrote:
Silva thought the popular pastor’s son would be that person. But at the time, Merritt chose not to live an “authentic and honest life” until his 39th birthday, when he “came out” on Instagram. Here’s what he wrote to his followers:
So there you have the nutshell version.
God Hands People Over To Their Idolatry And Sin
It is troubling to hear Jonathan Merritt justify his decision to live as a gay man (a chosen identity and activity) made out of whole cloth that has nothing to do with the Lord Jesus’s view of homosexuality that is in the Bible. Given this announcement one can only conclude that God has handed Jonathan Merritt, who remains a professing Christian, over to his sin, “allowing him to store up even greater judgment for the day of the Lord.” Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul pronounced in Rom 1:19–31 that the wrath of God is revealed as God hands people over to their idolatry and sin.
The pastor’s son sinned against a holy God when he enticed another man to commit a homosexual act with him. Furthermore, Jonathan and Azariah Southworth, who is also a professing Christian, were not married – and in the eyes of God they never could be. God calls us to sexual purity. Followers of Jesus Christ have to completely disregard the teaching in the pages of Holy Writ to cling to their belief that God condones sex outside of marriage. Anyone who is involved in sex outside marriage is committing a sin against God. Period. This I know because the Bible tells me so.
Those who read and study the Bible know exactly what sin is because God makes it abundantly clear what is dishonoring to Him. Regardless of what progressives proclaim, God hates sin – I repeat, hates sin – and He will punish unrepentant sinners.
When a Spirit filled believer sins, he/she is fully aware of it for the reason that the Holy Spirit convicts those who are “in Christ” of their sin. What are we to do when we commit a sin against God? Repent. And return to the Lord.
Jonathan Merritt knows what the Bible teaches on any given subject. He knows that the Bible teaches that homosexuality – and sexual relations outside of marriage – is sinful. He knows this but perhaps, like so many other deluded homosexuals and heterosexuals who indulge in sexual activity out of marriage, he has chosen to put the truth aside and embrace a lifestyle of his own choosing. Merritt now wants us to believe that he is a gay man “beloved by God” who has learned to live authentically in his personal life. He can believe what he wants to, but what this tells me is that this professing follower of Jesus Christ, who brags that he’s “raising a glass to my full and complete self—a gay man” is actually thumbing his nose at his Creator.
Jonathan’s disagreement is not with those of us who do not condone his behavior….because the Bible tells us we shouldn’t. His disagreement is with the Lord Jesus. Jesus made it crystal clear in His teaching that all of Scripture is “God breathed” and it is the authority by which His followers (authentic Christians) must live their lives. As the Son of God, who is the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus condemned homosexuality; likewise, he condemned sexual relations outside of marriage. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to be patient because sometime in the future sodomy – and sex with whomever you please – will no longer be considered a sin.
What people like Jonathan Merritt and Azariah Southworth fail to understand is that Jesus held to the inerrancy of Scripture. They have forgotten that God is the author of Scripture; therefore, the Bible’s teaching is 100% true…contains no mistakes…no contradictions....no miscalculations. It is virtually impossible for there to be errors in the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God, as the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. Which means He is God. And God is never wrong.
According To The Bible
Those who believe there are errors in the Bible most assuredly have a low view of God. Believers who dismiss what the Bible teaches and choose to live by their own rules have a very high view of “self.” So, to be clear, regardless of how Merritt has decided to live his life so that he can love himself while he’s on this earth, orthodox Bible scholars hold to the view that the Holy Spirit has left no wiggle room when it comes to indulging in the practices that are expressly forbidden in the scriptures, sodomy being one of them. According to the Holy Spirit inspired Apostle Paul:
Like it or not, God has not changed His mind when it comes to the matter of homosexual activity being an abomination. The Word of God is just as applicable in the Twenty-first Century as it was when Lev 20:13 was written:
Forgive And Forget
God’s forgiveness is available to all sinners who repent. To the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers and swindlers. God will give victory over even the most egregious sins to those He has granted the faith to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Eph 2:9) and thereafter put Him at the center of their lives:
There are many verses in the Gospels where Jesus quotes the Old Testament prophets. (The apostles also quoted the Old Testament.) For example, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Deut 8:3; Mat 4:4 and “Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Deut 6:13; Mat 4:10
Paul tells Timothy:
Could Jesus Have Been Wrong?
Today many Christians outright reject the infallibility of Holy Writ. Some say that Jesus could have been wrong and still be the Savior of the World. So, let us consider the possibility that our Lord could have been off base in His teaching. In his article What Difference Does An Inerrant Bible Make? Theologian R.C. Sproul tells of a discussion he had with an old friend, Charlie, who proclaimed that he no longer believed in the inerrancy of Scripture and that after years of studying the Bible he thought Jesus could have been wrong at times. R.C. addressed this with his friend thusly:
Sound familiar? Jonathan and Azariah want to get rid of Jesus’ view of Scripture and hold onto Him as their Savior and Lord.
Getting back to R.C., he used his friend Charlie as a “good example of a person who can deny inerrancy but still believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. But this is possible only if one is inconsistent. Does God demand perfect consistency in our theology for salvation? R.C. says no.
So to sum up inerrancy:
I’ll end with a quote by Calvin Goligher from a piece I highly recommend Gay and the Gay Christian:
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