An Open Letter to James Merritt Regarding 1 Corinthians 5 and His Homosexual Son


You and I had an exchange regarding your grown son, a few weeks ago, if you recall. Essentially, while using your position as head of the SBC Resolutions Committee, you did everything possible to suppress the Conservative Resurgence II. And furthermore, you did so in a manner that was disrespectful, demeaning, and dismissive of SBC messengers. In your gall, you posted a screenshot on Twitter of encouragement not to let the SBC “bully” you.

I found it terribly ironic. The following was our exchange, in case you have forgotten.

One will note that my words were not nice (nor should they have been), but neither were your words. You said I was (1) gutless (2) cowardly (3) hypocritical (4) a moron (5) a son of the devil (6) and unsaved. The latter is a paraphrase.

While neither of our words were nice, only your words were ironic. You used these invectives under a post about not being bullied. My assertion was that you were in fact the bully at the SBC annual meeting. Then you dropped a string of bullying insults. As the record will show, you deleted your tweet soon after, probably recognizing that it was a tactical mistake to respond to any kind of discerning Christian (ask Ed Stetzer; he learned this in 2015).

I didn’t get an apology from you, so I presume you removed it out of cowardice, and thus, will exhort you to not act cowardly in what follows. Given my presumption that you lack the fortitude to deal biblically with Jonathan’s “coming out” as a loud-and-proud practicing homosexual (which who have likely known since 2012, if not long before – including when you had him on staff at your church), I will admonish you publicly to do unlike your son and instead, act like a man. This primarily includes treating the Holy Bible as though it is not only true but authoritative.

When Jonathan came out of the closet as a practicing sodomite, he wrote…

So today, I’m raising a glass to my full and complete self—a gay man, beloved by God, who has endured the worst the world could throw at him and fought his way to health and wholeness.

Jonathan toasted sin. He toasted hell. He toasted holy insurrection. And if he doesn’t repent, he’ll be just plain toasted.

Of course, Jonathan has not “endured the worst the world could throw at him.” You are largely responsible, along with your friends of high stature in evangelicalism, to shield him from any and all consequences of being a homosexual. He has had, thus far – among other things – a silver spoon in his mouth. White privilege (as he would call it, with your blessing) dribbles off his chin. He has lived a pampered, spoiled, easy life living off of your last name.

In our previous exchange, you said, “Who taught you…” before launching invectives. I will answer your question directly:

I was taught by the Plato First Baptist Church until I was 10, a participating member of the Texas County Baptist Association. I was baptized by the late Bob White, a Southern Baptist Pastor of the highest reputation. Then (after moving) I was taught by the Bucyrus Baptist Church, another SBC congregation in the same association, also affiliated with the Missouri Southern Baptist Convention. From 10-onward I was taught by the late Jim Flora, who until recently finished his race as an IMB missionary and – again – had the highest of reputations. I received my ministry degree from Williams Baptist University, an SBC School. I was licensed to preach by the Black Rock First Baptist Church (an SBC church in the Lawerence County Baptist Association and affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention). I was ordained by the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church by my mentor, Jerry Clements, after an ordination council of mostly Southern Baptist men grilled me on my qualifications. In fact, you presided over the SBC when I was ordained. Then, I became a church planter for the North American Mission Board. But mostly – to answer your question – I was taught by my dad, Phillip Hall, who has been a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher most of his adult life and catechized me since childhood (thousands of his students over the years, vouching for his apt teaching, should suffice for his reputation). I am Jonathan’s age, and I grew up a son of the Southern Baptist Convention and watched the Conservative Resurgence from the pews.

Did that answer your question?

All of these men and institutions taught me the Bible was (A) inspired (B) infallible (C) sufficient and (D) authoritative. Do you believe this to be true?

Let me remind you of the Sacred Text:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

James, it is my belief you have not only been ignoring this Text for some time but enabling your son in his gay lifestyle (not to mention a belief system fundamentally opposed to your own teaching). My own father – the best man I have ever met – had I lived as Jonathan has lived, would have long handled me appropriately, which is to say, the opposite of how you have infiltrated your son into the highest of esteem among evangelicals despite him being dangerous to the cause of Jesus.

But with Jonathan now clearly “coming out,” there is no question as to your responsibility. Because he claims to be a Christian while being sexually immoral (and even ‘raising his glass’ to it), you must no longer associate with him. Those aren’t my words. Those are the Holy Spirit’s words, uttered by the Apostle Paul.

I understand the unbearable pain of obeying Scripture on this point. Indeed, I have immediate family members of whom we have had to follow 1 Corinthians 5. As painful as it is, I have also seen opportunities for evangelism that never could have happened without obeying the Bible on this point.

My question to you, James Merritt, is do you believe what you have taught these many years in ministry? Is the Bible inerrant? Is it inspired? Is it sufficient? Is it authoritative? Now is the time to show it.

I would pray that you find the courage to obey Jesus and demonstrate that you are a true man of God, and not a fraud.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:37).

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8 thoughts on “An Open Letter to James Merritt Regarding 1 Corinthians 5 and His Homosexual Son

  1. JD is right. Someone needed to say this to him. I’m guessing he doesn’t think sodomy is really sinful at all and if not, then he might be like countless others who think that the wayward, sinning one just needs to be “loved” back into the fold. Makes you want to gag!

  2. That was clear, direct, and zeroed in on what all of this boils down to… Following God and Scripture, or not.

  3. While this is extremely painful for any family, the process would have gone a whole lot more predictably if Mr Merritt had been teaching his son, and his church, the doctrine of sin all along. The failure of the church to teach the doctrine of sin is what got us into these painful messes to begin with. The younger Mr Merritt should have known from puberty that his inclinations are an abomination to God, felt his guilt, and been seeking salvation and deliverance, instead of wallowing in what he says is the “delightful person God made when he made me” nonsense that’s he’s been encouraged to adopt by not only the culture but also most of evangelicalism.

  4. Luke 9:62Then Jesus declared, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

  5. “delightful person God made”, “fought his way to health and wholeness” – I cannot think of any concepts in existence that are more antithetical to scripture, and more opposite of what it means to be a Christian in the first place.

    You cannot be a Christian if you do not recognize the fact that we are born sinners, with a sinful nature, in a woefully hopeless imperfect fallen state. It’s impossible for one to be a Christian without first recognizing that fact. (though he does, ironically, recognize that he is neither healthy nor whole)

    His logic is so bad it’s both hilarious and sad at the same time. Basically, “I was born perfect, yet I’m not healthy or whole, but that’s everybody else’s fault, especially them Bible-believing Christians” And he cannot escape that logic, for if he did acknowledge that he wasn’t born perfect, then he would be forced to face the depravity of his abominable sin.

    I don’t care what the sin or flaw may be, “God made me this way” is not an excuse. And I don’t care who you are, or who or what you think you are, you are born a sinner in a sinful and imperfect state, and you need a savior. Your “wholeness” will come through acceptance, submission and obedience to Him. It will not come through thumbing your nose at Him, arrogantly and defiantly saying “you made me this way!”

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