Many people when hearing that the General Association of Six-Principle Baptists (SPB) holds to the historic Baptist principle of "liberty of conscience" misinterpret this to mean that we believe we have a license to believe and do anything we wish. This is absolutely not true! There are certain basic beliefs essential to salvation, and certain "Biblical" moral and ethical standards that we strongly hold as essential to a way of life that is pleasing to God, and that is a witness to those around us as to our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We believe that certain things are clearly set forth in the Bible as sins which must be repented of and avoided so that we may be right with God, i.e. in a right relationship in our everyday life with God.
Among the list of the sins of adultery, fornication, prostitution, and lust, the Bible includes the sin of homosexual acts. (for some of these Scriptures see, Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Tim 1:10-11; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). Many people try to avoid the clear Biblical stance on this in many ways.
To quote Billy Graham on this issue, he said,"No matter how we may rationalize the practice [of homosexuality] as a viable alternative to heterosexual relationships, Romans 1 makes it clearly the product of a reprobate mind. By making this statement, I am not exonerating all heterosexual activity. As Dr. Harold Lindsell has put it, 'The immoral heterosexual is neither better nor worse than the practicing homosexual. Both come under divine judgment' . . . When we come to Christ, we are called upon to repent of our sins and no longer to practice the ungodly patterns of living we may have enjoyed before." ( "Billy Graham Christian Worker's Handbook", page 172)The SPB is also in agreement with what David Stern wrote,"The basic attitude of people who believe the Bible should be to love sinners while hating their sins. But believers must accept the Bible's judgments on what is and what is not sin. Moreover, denouncing the sin is an aspect of loving the sinner; this is what enables him to repent, be forgiven, and change. All of this can be done compassionately and effectively; the real tragedy is that few Christian churches try to minister to homosexuals." ("Jewish New Testament Commentary", pp. 332- 333)The SPB stance on homosexuals and homosexuality is the same as most conservative evangelical churches, and as David Stern said above, "love sinners while hating their sins." Homosexual acts are considered sins the same as all other sexual sins. We do not condone the sin but love the sinner. We do not reject homosexuals any more than we would a person who commits any other type of sin, such as gluttony, drunkenness, lying, adultery, etc., but what we do reject is the sin of homosexual acts. We all are guilty of sin from time to time. Our goal is not to be overcome with sin, or remain in it, but to be delivered from it. This is possible by our reliance on the power of God and His provision to ultimately deliver us from sin, which is through faith and trust in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The SPB, in agreement with the Celtic-Anabaptist Communion, does not license or ordain practicing homosexuals or perform same-sex unions, nor do we endorse or recognize those jurisdictions which do so.
To quote a statement from the "Billy Graham Christian Worker's Handbook", page 172,"The church cannot condone the lifestyle of homosexuals nor encourage their involvement as unrepentant sinners in the life of the church. On the other hand, however, it should not try to pretend that the problem does not exist. It should address the problem honestly and realistically, in love and understanding. It is not Godís will that anyone should be bound by homosexuality. His grace is sufficient to bring victory to those who are willing to submit this area to Him. The church needs to take the initiative in encouraging the homosexual with this message."
(The "Billy Graham Christian Worker's Handbook" can be read online in PDF format at http://www.evangelism.com/files/pdf/1113.pdf . The complete section on "Homosexuality" is well worth reading. You can also read a brief statement that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in answer to the question, "Does the Bible approve of some homosexual relationships?" at http://www.billygraham.org/LFA_Article.asp?ArticleID=5 )
For more on Liberty of Conscience, read the article "Liberty of Conscience" by Charles W. Deweese in the Baptist Style Pamphlet Series, on the Baptist History and Heritage Society website.