Saddleback removed a page on their website that stated: “someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church.”
Now they’ve posted a new audio commentary from Pastor Tom Holladay — #22 on this page — that is intended to clarify this point. In it, Pastor Tom confirms that unrepentant gays cannot be members of the church, but he tries to put it in a broader context.
In general, anyone can attend but, to be a member, you have to agree to try to follow God’s law. Being a church member means, “we have decided together to trust Gods’ word.”
I’m told that to be a member of Saddleback, one must 1) profess faith in Christ; 2) undergo Baptism by immersion; 3) attend four hours of “membership 101″ courses and, most interesting 4) sign a ‘membership covenant” that is renewed each year.
Pastor Tom said that some people have been asked to leave church membership for carrying on adulterous relationships or engaging in financial sins. The key seems to be that, to be a member, you have to acknowledge that the behavior is sinful and work to resist it.
So, homosexuality isn’t the only kind of infraction that might exclude you from church membership.
But the church clearly does view homosexuality as a “dangerous sin” that needs to be rejected and overcome. A gay person who accepts that view would be welcome but one who accepts himself or herself as normal and healthy would not be welcome as members.
There is, of course, a logical consistency to the Saddleback position: the Bible says homosexuality is sinful, so they can’t very well carve a loophole saying we have to toil against sin… except for this one.
But I’m thinking this clarification is not going to make gays feel any better about Saddleback. From a gay perspective, it sounds a bit like they’re saying, “All gays may attend but only self-loathing gays may be members.”