One month ago, Kentucky Baptist leaders chose to sever ties with Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville. The decision to end the longstanding relationship passed by an overwhelming majority during the Kentucky Baptist Convention's annual meeting.
The church took a pro-homosexual stance last year, but Kentucky Baptist churches believe God's word to be true and clear - same-sex relationships are sin.
"To give approval to what the Bible clearly states is sin is not only an offense to the scripture, it is an unloving act toward sinners, an act that leaves them in danger of God's judgment," said Greg Faulls, vice chairman of the convention's Committee on Credentials.
Just two weeks after the convention's decision, the more than century old church held its first homosexual wedding ceremony.
The pastor of CHBC, Jason Crosby, along with his 800-member congregation, voted lasted year in favor of performing same-sex marriages and ordaining gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual members.
"We are Bible-led, Kentucky Baptists to whom God has revealed a different perspective on (gay and lesbian) individuals to us, rather than to you I suspect, yet we still want to be with you," he told the gathering of church leaders last month.
On Nov. 29 - just two weeks after the convention's vote - a prominent Louisville woman, Tina Ward-Pugh, married her longtime partner, Laura Hodges Ryan, before friends and family. Officiated by a long-time professor at the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Dr. Johanna W.H. van Wijk-Bos, the ceremony had Crosby's blessing.
"As people of faith, we longed for the day when our faith community would fully affirm our love through the ceremony of marriage," Ward-Pugh wrote in a special open letter published in Louisville's The Courier-Journal on Monday.
Ward-Pugh did not write of a desire to keep God's commandments. Instead, she wrote of her longing for affirmation from her church family.
But God's word says in John 14:15, "If you love me, keep my commandments." The Bible is consistent in naming homosexuality sin.
I Corinthians 6:9-10 states, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."
Even with God's command so clearly stated, confessing Christians like Ward-Pugh increasingly use the Bible as an a la carte menu for Godly living. And while the American culture does not glorify drunkards or thieves, it places homosexuals on a pedestal - one that overflows with pride. The popular culture, and 'progressive Christians,' ignores homosexuality's inclusion in the same verse that identifies sins that will not lead one to a Godly inheritance.
Due to Kentucky's ban on homosexual marriage, Ward-Pugh and Ryan were legally married last year in Maryland.
"But like most people of faith," she continued in her letter, "We longed to be blessed in the church before God."
Again, Ward-Pugh expressed a desire for acceptance and confirmation from the church body - not from God. She writes of her desire to be blessed before God, not by God. She calls out believers who have chosen to remain steadfast by abiding in God's word, acknowledging His commands and not supporting homosexual marriage.
"And make no mistake... the church, by its not progressing in more fully understanding God, has alienated many of its own believers and countless more who wouldn't even give her consideration because the pain of rejection was simply too great to bear," she said.
The author did not refer to or acknowledge the truths found in scripture. In Proverbs 3:5-6, God's word says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
And as the Psalmist wrote of God's omnipresence and omniscience in Psalm 139:6, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is too high, I cannot attain to it." God did not leave us to our own devices, wisdom and cunning to more fully understand Him. He provides Himself, through His infallible word, and demands obedience to that word from his children.
As Faulls stated in the convention's decision last month, approving of any sin is an unloving act towards the sinner and leaves them guilty before God.
"We are deeply grateful for those whose courage and conviction has brought us to this place, where a people of God choose to expand their understanding of God by blessing our love," Ward-Pugh continued.
But God's word is clear on the destruction that befalls those who choose to lean on their own understanding of Him and His commands.
Psalm 50:16-21 reads, "But to the wicked God says, 'What right have you to tell of My statutes and to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you. When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you associate with adulterers, you let your mouth loose in evil and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son. These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes."
Recently, The Gospel Coalition reviewed a new book by author Daniel Heimbach, 'Why Not Same-Sex Marriage: A Manual for Defending Marriage Against Radical Deconstruction.' In the article, reviewer Andrew J. Spencer discusses the foundation of the author's writing.
"Heimbach's arguments are built on ethical reasoning that expects to find a moral order in creation," Spencer writes. "Since God designed the world to function in a manner consistent with his character, the common good will be enhanced through morality that resonates with biblical norms. Dispassionate reasoning from observable facts, then, should lead toward conclusions consistent with Scripture."
As Ward-Pugh wrote in her letter, "Whether the names on the wedding service are Adam and Eve, Adam and Steve or Tina and Laura, the love is no less real, no less from God and no less deserving of blessing."
But how can anything be "no less from God" when God Himself does not approve of it?
On Nov. 29 - the same day that CHBC held its first homosexual marriage ceremony - The Courier-Journal published a letter written by George W. Stinson, chair of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. Stinson praised the courage and compassion of Pastor Crosby and his congregation for standing for their principles, saying it "will be vindicated."
"One lesson of the 50-plus year history of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is that change is never easy and progress often has a price."
Stinson is exactly right. Change is never easy. And when progress moves people further from the gospel and God's truth, there is a price. It causes those affirmed by such progression to pay the highest price. Turning from God's unfailing word by leaning on one's own understanding of self, society and besetting sins leads to a loss of life.
Ultimately, it leads to an eternity apart from God.