Apple CEO claims being gay among God's 'greatest gifts' - noted Southern Baptist disagrees

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

At 5 billion in market value, Apple is the biggest company in the world, and in revenues it has moved up to the number 5 spot on the Fortune 500 List.

CUPERTINO, Calif. (Christian Examiner) -- Though he has never denied being gay, Apple CEO Tim Cook, 53, publicly announced his sexuality Thursday in an essay he wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek published Oct. 30. The announcement makes him the only openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

In his piece, Cooke wrote that being gay has made him more "empathetic" and given him the confidence to "rise above adversity and bigotry."

I consider being gay to be among the greatest gifts God has given me
- Tim Cook, CEO Apple

Cook wrote, "I consider being gay to be among the greatest gifts God has given me."

But Bob Stith, president of Family and Gender Issues Ministries from Southlake, Texas told the Christian Examiner, "I don't think God gave that gift."

"From a strictly biblical standpoint this causes me to be sad for him and others that may read that and be influenced by it," Stith said. "Scripture calls it sin and I don't think we can ever say that sin is God's great gift to us."

Stith formerly served as the National Strategist for Gender Issues with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Scripture calls it sin and I don't think we can ever say that sin is God's great gift to us
-Bob Stith, president, Family and Gender Issues Ministries

Cook, a self-proclaimed "son of the south" from Alabama pointed to his aversion to being in the public eye as reason for not coming out sooner.

"Throughout my professional life, I've tried to maintain a basic level of privacy," Cook said, noting that "humble roots" lead him to shy away from drawing attention to himself instead of Apple's high profile products.

The disclosure of his sexual orientation comes days after criticizing his home state for being slow to recognize equality for the LGBT community. Alabama does not recognize same-sex marriage and has no laws in place granting workplace rights for sexual orientation or gender identity.

Though he claims he is not an activist, Cook has led Apple, Inc. into championing workplace equality since taking helm of the company, even using Twitter to publicize Apple's support.

"Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one's sexuality, race, or gender," Cook said. "We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick."

Stith said if he were to sit down in a room with Cook, he would tell him that he has some understanding of how he might feel, but as a Christian and one who takes the Bible seriously, he would tell Cook that he is "living outside of God's plan."

"God wants to give us joy in abundance," Stith said. "I don't think we can have that if we choose to persist in sin. I want him to have everything God has for him, not in a material perspective, but in a spiritual realm."