Despite the Bible’s clear opposition to homosexual relations in both the Old and New Testaments, a Baptist church in the heart of the nation’s capital has just named a “married” lesbian couple to co-pastor its flock.
Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., presented Maria Swearingen and Sally Sarratt to its congregation during morning worship on Sunday, with the women’s official duties commencing Feb. 26.
“We look for the best people in the world and that’s who they were,” church spokeswoman Carol Blythe told the Religion News Service. “We’re very excited.”
In a news release, Blythe indicated: “As we met and talked with Sally and Maria about their vision for pastoral leadership at Calvary, we were struck by their deep faith and commitment to being part of a gospel community.”
“We were impressed by how their gifts, talents, and experience matched our ministry priorities – and we are thrilled about their upcoming pastorate and the versatility the co-pastor model will provide our congregation.”
During services on Sunday, Swearingen and Sarratt told church members: “We have found it so easy to fall in love with Calvary and its longstanding commitment to be a voice of justice and compassion for those who perpetually find the wholeness of their humanity disregarded and maligned.”
The couple come to Calvary from Greenville, South Carolina, where Sarratt has been serving as associate chaplain for behavioral health in the Greenville Health System and Swearingen as associate chaplain at Furman University.
Sarratt holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Emory University, while Swearingen earned a Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School.
There has been turmoil among Baptists in America in recent years, especially over the issue of homosexuality. Calvary Baptist broke ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012, since the SBC has taken a stand against same-sex relations.
The Bible itself condemns homosexual sex in the strongest terms, using descriptors such as “abomination” or “detestable sin.”
In the Old Testament, God Himself declares: “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin” (Leviticus 18:22, New Living Translation).
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul noted: “Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved” (Romans 1:26-27, NLT).