Dr. James Merritt’s Response to Mel White

August 30, 2001

Dr. Mel White
Executive Director
Soulforce, Inc.
P.O. Box 4467
Laguna Beach, CA 92652

Dear Dr. White:

I also want to thank you for you letter. Please forgive me for not having responded before now. I was out of town and then gone the entire month of July and part of August out of the country and on vacation. I want to be kind in my response to you, but by necessity, must also be both firm and pointed.

I purposely and willfully use the term "sexual preference." There is nothing at all misleading about that term. You use the word "demean" repeatedly in your letter. I believe (and so do many people of ethnicity and color) that it is demeaning to other minorities for you to try to categorize homosexuality in the same way we categorize black people or Jewish people. The bottom line is it is not a sin to be born black, female, or Jewish. It is a sin to choose homosexuality as a lifestyle contrary to God’s Word.

You state sexual orientation is supported by all scientific research, which is patently and absolutely untrue. Indeed, Robert L. Spitzer recently told a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, "like most psychiatrists I thought homosexual behavior could only be resisted and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false." The fact of the matter is in my own ministry I have seen homosexuals change, in fact we have former homosexuals as members of our church even now.

So again, let me tell you once and for all that I will never ever accept any designation of homosexuality in the same class as Jews, women, blacks, etc. To do so would be to accept a patent falsehood and that I will never do.

Furthermore, you did indeed issue me an ultimatum. Once you use the work "if" whatever you say after that becomes an ultimatum. Again, I will never respond to such.

Let me emphasize that your vigils were polite and your materials were not in any way obscene. Your civil disobedience was conducted with respect and I thing you can say that our messengers responded in kind. In fact, the New Orleans police responded to me on several occasions of how pleasantly surprised they were to see how our messengers treated you. I repeatedly encouraged our messengers to be gracious and kind to you at all times.

Dr. White, the scripture is plain – homosexuality, just like adultery, fornication, etc. is sinful. No amount of hermeneutical gymnastics on your part will change that fact nor will any so-called "scientific, psychological, historical, or even pastoral" evidence change the fact either.

I want you to know that I love you. I do abhor all violence against anyone regardless of his or her race, color, or sexual preference. That is also true of Southern Baptists as a whole.

At the same time, I am commanded to "speak the truth to you in love." The truth is that by the power of God you can repent of your sinful lifestyle. I pray that you will do so.

There will be no blue ribbon committee appointed by me. We as a convention decided a long time ago there is no need to debate what God himself has settled in His Word.

I can never accept that homosexuality is "just another variation of God’s mysterious creation," and you clearly disagree. Since our respective beliefs and views are irreconcilable I don’t intend to engage in a further exchange of correspondence or dialogue on this subject, though I remain open and available to talk with you about other spiritual or personal matters.

Please know again that I love you and the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that you will come back to a knowledge of the truth and a true relationship with God.

Sincerely,

James Merritt

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