LEXINGTON, Ky, — As Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a professing Christian, is refusing to intervene to protect the religious liberty of a county clerk who is facing possible punishment for defying a court order to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals, Beshear’s pastor says that he doesn’t teach about homosexuality in his congregation and leaves the issue of whether or not it is a sin up to “personal interpretation.”
As previously reported, Beshear, a Democrat and son and grandson of a minister, issued a statement yesterday outlining that he will not call a special session of the legislature to assist Rowan county clerk Kim Davis, who will report to court tomorrow to face the charge and may be levied with heavy fines to force her into compliance.
“The General Assembly will convene in four months and can make any statutory changes it deems necessary at that time. I see no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money calling a special session of the General Assembly when 117 of 120 county clerks are doing their jobs,” he wrote.
Beshear’s longtime former church, Lexington Primitive Baptist Church, supports Davis. According to reports, Beshear left Lexington Primitive Baptist and began attending Crestwood Christian Church years ago since his wife is a member.
Christian News Network contacted Crestwood on Wednesday to learn where the congregation stands on homosexual behavior, and was advised by its Senior Pastor, Kory Wilcoxson, that the matter is not discussed because the assembly does not speak to “social and political issues.” He confirmed that Beshear is a member, but said that he does not regularly attend services due to his schedule as governor.
Wilcoxson advised that with matters such as homosexuality, he allows members to come to their own personal conclusions on whether a certain behavior is sinful.
“We believe that each person should be allowed to work out for themselves what Scripture says to them and how they interpret it,” he said. “We don’t take church-wide or denominational-wide stances.”
“What we try to do is to focus on what is essential to our faith and our belief in Jesus Christ, and that allows for the liberty of interpretations on other issues,” Wilcoxson explained. “So, if we believe a passage can be interpreted in different ways, then we allow for that and try to help our congregation members come to an understanding of that themselves, rather than telling them what they should believe.”
He said that those in his congregation differ on whether or not homosexual behavior is sinful, and he neither teaches that it is right or wrong.
“We would say that there are several different ways to interpret the passages that deal with homosexual behavior, so we provide our congregation with those interpretations and let them figure out for themselves what they believe,” Wilcoxson outlined. “We have people in our congregation on both sides of that issue—some believing that it is a sin and some believing that it isn’t.”
“[W]e allow for room and grace for that spectrum of belief within the congregation rather than in saying one is right and one is wrong,” he said.
When asked how he would speak to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which includes others such as drunkards and adulterers—in addition to homosexuals—as those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God, Wilcoxson said that he’s not sure if drunkenness in Paul’s day was characterized the same as it is today.
“I wouldn’t say that’s a sin,” he said. “Tradition, my experience—all of those factors in how we read and interpret Scripture.”
Wilcoxson said that he would, however, consider adultery a sin—a major issue that has filled headlines due to the Ashley Madison data dump—because it is listed in the Ten Commandments. But if it was learned that a member was committing adultery, they would not be disciplined or ousted from the congregation even if they remained unrepentant.
“I would certainly sit down and have a conversation with them, but we don’t have a church-wide system in place for discipline,” Wilcoxson said.
He declined to give comment on his beliefs about eternal damnation.
According to a 2007 “Bluegrass Politics” article with Beshear, the now governor of Kentucky said that his faith is reflected in how he lives his “daily life.”
“I pray often and read my Bible,” he remarked. “My faith plays a significant role in my daily life. I hope my life reflects my religious background of trying to love God and others.”
Beshear says in regard to Davis, however, “Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe. But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act.”