Skip to comments.Homosexual Advocacy in the Church Perspective from a Fifth-Generation Episcopalian
Posted on 10/21/2003 9:36:03 AM PDT by ahadams2
NOTE: Permission to reprint or forward this article with appropriate citation is herein granted.
Homosexual Advocacy in the Church Perspective from a Fifth-Generation Episcopalian
"The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord." (Genesis 18:22)
The shifting paradigm of sexual morality is a source of much controversy in Western culture, and thus, in the Christian Church. Homosexuals, though less than 3% of the population, are at the center of this controversy. The secular civil rights of consenting adults are in contest with the timeless Judeo-Christian foundation for the family and society.
At the World Anglican Communion's decennial Lambeth Conference in 1998, Bishops representing 77-million Church congregants worldwide overwhelmingly passed a resolution reaffirming that homosexual ordination, same-sex marriage and homosexual practices were "incompatible with Scripture." But a significant number of Bishops representing the 2.3-million member Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., the American branch of the World Anglican Communion, strongly objected.
The Episcopal Church has debated the "normalization" of homosexual practices, same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals, for two decades. Episcopal Bishops have come perilously close to approving ordination of homosexuals and recognizing homosexual "marriage" at previous triennial conventions, setting up a schism between the Episcopal Church and the World Anglican Communion, and prompting a growing number of Bishops, both domestic and international, to view the Episcopal Church leadership as apostate. Thus, many Bishops have declared the U.S. a mission field for reseeding, and several Archbishops in the World Anglican Communion have been ordaining American Bishops and Priests under their authority since 1998.
At its triennial convention in August of 2003, the Episcopal House of Bishops voted, by a two-thirds majority, to confirm an unrepentant homosexual as Bishop of an American Diocese, the first such confirmation in the history of the Anglican Church. This action is arguably heretical, a willful violation of Scripture and the historic faith, order, tradition and governing canons of the Anglican Church, and codified the breach between the Episcopal Church and World Anglican Communion.
This conflict, at its core, is not about church unity or traditions or politics, nor is it about the appointment of a homosexual bishop in the Episcopal church or homosexuality, per se. It is about Scriptural authority -- the relevance of God's word as received through Holy Scripture, the historic foundation of our church. However, homosexual advocacy in the church is the catalyst that has raised the issue of Scriptural relevance.
To discuss the issue of homosexual normalization, and the crisis it has created in the Episcopal Church, meaningfully, we must move beyond the "pro-this/anti-that" labels and dispel a false dichotomy, which has infiltrated our dialogue on the role of homosexuals in the Church and the role of the Church in regard to homosexuals.
Homosexual advocacy groups often rebut dissenters by claiming they are pharisaical, intolerant and judgmental -- accusations which serve only to preclude discussing this issue consequentially. Those who apply such labels do so only as a means of arresting discourse. Disagreement with homosexual advocates' social agendas has no direct correlation with one's capacity to love or have compassion for others. Nor is such dissent necessarily related to judgment, which is God's alone. Rather, it is about discerning between right and wrong and obedience to objective truth, rather than conforming to a code of subjective relativism popularly justified under the contemporary aegis of "tolerance," "diversity" and "inclusion."
To discern right from wrong in the Episcopal Church, we find in Article VI of Religion, (BCP, p. 868) that "Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation...." Scripture is the first resource of our faith, and the foundation on which the tenets of reason and tradition reside. The "First Promise" taken by all of our clergy in their ordinal vows is to abide by this foundation. If Scripture is not accepted for what it is -- the authoritative Word of God -- then the foundation for faith in the Triune God collapses.(1)
Opponents of Biblical authority within the Episcopal Church (and other mainline denominations) must address themselves to an essential question: If Scripture is not the received Word of God, what then is our source of knowledge, of truth, in the Church? Epistemological certainty must begin and end with a reference point, an objective source, outside of the subjective self. If this presupposition regarding the nature of Scripture and the God of Scripture is denied, no common Christian foundation for truth or knowledge remains.
If the Word of God is subordinate to "situational ethics" and "cultural relativity," if one is content to "interpret" Scripture such that it comports with a post-modern social agenda rather than receive God's word as objective truth, then there is no further common ground for discussion of homosexuality (or any other issue) in the context of the Christian Church. Such subordination leads to a denial of objective truth and, consequently, the advancement of subjectivist doctrines.
In Luke 12, Jesus speaks about denial of objective truth: "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."
Endeavoring to divine objective truth, some Episcopalians suggest that the Church's founding tenets of Scripture, reason and tradition have equal standing. But there is nothing in the history of the Church to support such an errant assertion. Reason and tradition rest on the foundation of Scripture, and are not to be equated with God's Word. Thus, if we are to be faithful, we turn to Scripture for Divine guidance in the Christian Church.
Some Episcopalians correlate Scriptural truth with reason in the Scholastic tradition of Thomas Aquinas. God's universal plan and its inherent truths are thoroughly explicated in both the revealed and natural law, including the study of the natural order. Within that order, we are entrusted with the land and all living things, a trust frequently violated in selfishness and submission to evil. We are also entrusted with the sexual design and relationship between "male and female, man and woman." This design is as clear in nature and reason as in Scripture, and should not be violated.(2)
Some Episcopal traditionalists differentiate between Scriptural truths, which transcend time and culture, and teachings, which are a reflection of historic culture. In Leviticus for example, one may conclude that the legal stipulation for unrepentant homosexuals -- death -- is associated with an ancient culture. But, to conclude that all of Leviticus or the entire Bible for that matter is relative to whatever measure we choose, defies truth.
Indeed, Article VII of Religion, (BCP, p. 869) states that "...no Christian man whatsoever is free from obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral." Thus, the transcendent truth in Leviticus is its condemnation of homosexual behavior as "an abomination."
The New Testament is also abundantly clear in its condemnation of fornication and homosexual practices. In Romans 1:24-32, the Apostle Paul says, "...they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.... Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another.... Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who would practice them." In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul adds, "Do not be deceived, neither the immoral...nor sexual perverts...will inherit the Kingdom of God." Paul uses the Greek word "arsenokoitai" in these texts, which means "sodomites."
Some homosexual advocates argue that Jesus is "silent" on this issue in the Gospels. Of course, Jesus does not directly address other deviant sexual behavior (pedophilia, bestiality, etc.) either. Is He really silent, or is His affirmation of marriage between "man and woman" sufficient rebuke for the homosexual agenda in the Christian Church?
In Matthew 19, Jesus speaks to us about marriage and sexuality: "Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning made them male and female, man and woman, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh'. "(3)
Note that Jesus concludes in this passage: "What therefor God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
So what do we do with the homosexual agenda in the Christian Church? If we are to remain faithful, we abide by Scripture and uphold its revealed transcendent Truth. But, if Episcopal Church leaders can't discern transcendent truth in Christ's words, what are the implications for the our Church?
In John 8, Jesus speaks to us about transcendent truth: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
So what then, as Christians, do we do with homosexuals?
In Matthew 22, Jesus declares:" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
As for how to show God's love to sinners, Romans 12:21 teaches: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." We are commanded to reach out unconditionally in love, and seek to heal. While discerning right from wrong in our denomination and society, as Christians we are called to love sinners, and not predicate our love for homosexuals, in this case, on condition of their obedience to moral truth as set forth in Scripture. But "unconditional love" is not analogous with "subjective relativism," and we should not uphold sinful behavior as righteous, which violates God's word and design.
Understanding aberrant sexual behavior is critical to healing it. Though homosexuality is sometimes a matter of choice, most Christian medical and mental health specialists agree that gender-disorientation pathology is often associated with childhood or adolescent sexual and/or emotional trauma and/or abuse. Homosexual modeling by an authority figure -- often an influential person with access to the victim through the family, church, school, neighborhood or media, can also be the source of gender-disorientation pathology.
While there was some speculation about a "homosexual gene" in the early '90s, that theory has been rejected by both the scientific community and national homosexual advocacy organizations. It should be noted, however, that some children may be genetically predisposed to exhibit masculine or feminine characteristics associated with the opposite sex -- putting them at greater risk of being targeted by homosexual predators and more susceptible, psychologically, to homosexual modeling.
Homosexual victims often compensate and cover their pain by manifesting some degree of narcissism, an unmitigated expression of self-love, which is antithetical to the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. They indulge in the aberrant behavior to avoid reconciling the pain of abuse or homosexual modeling. Thus, to abandon homosexuals in their pathological illness (and sin) under the aegis of "love and compassion" is tantamount to abandoning a destitute homeless soul in a gutter under the aegis their condition is "righteous in God's eyes."
As for unrepentant homosexuals (those who have been offered love and healing) and their standing among Christ's people, 1 Corinthians 5:11 confirms: "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral.... With such a man do not even eat." As noted, this does not mean we are not to reach out to sinners and seek to foster repentance and healing in them. But it does mean we do not raise them up in their sin as in good standing in our fellowship.
Of Church leaders and elders, Paul writes in Titus 1:7-9: "Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work...he must hold firmly to the trustworthy Message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." Holding firmly to the Message has always required much faith and courage. Paul also writes in 1st Timothy 3:2, "Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife..." and notes, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?"
It follows then that Episcopal Bishops were gravely mistaken in elevating a homosexual man (a divorced father of two and unrepentant sinner) to the order of priesthood, much less the position of Diocesan Bishop, ostensibly as an expression of "unconditional love." And, in an egregious example of hypocrisy, some of the dissenting Bishops did so only, they explained, because the homosexual Bishop in question is in an "extramarital" sexual relationship -- meaning had he been "married" to his homosexual partner, more Bishops would have consented to his confirmation. (In other words, so-called "same-sex marriage" will be at the top of the homosexual advocacy agenda at the Church's next triennial convention.)
Though the legal status of "homosexual behavior" and "same-sex marriage" is being debated within the context of the government legislatures and courts, the objective truth concerning such behavior has long been revealed through Scripture. Therefore, no institutional body of Christians should seek to normalize homosexuality or any other sexual aberration. By its nature such action projects such aberrations are acceptable in God's eyes and nature, and somehow comply with Scripture and the canons of the Church. This projection is not only iconoclastic but deceitful in that it suggests overt sinful behavior is to be upheld and honored.(4) Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant with the New. Now, apostate Episcopal clerics are attempting to supplant the New Covenant with their "new and improved" version.
There are tens-of-thousands of obedient Christians who continue to worship corporately in the Episcopal Church, though many prominent Church leaders have discarded their ordinal vows as specified in the Articles of Religion. They have departed the faith by forsaking God's Word and substituted their own. Some laity wonder, "How do sheep find their way when the shepherd is lost?" My reply, "Who is your shepherd?" Jesus is not lost. But there is great peril in putting faith in men. In Matthew 7, Jesus warned: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." Again Jesus warns in Matthew 24: "Watch out that no one deceives you."
It can be difficult to stand in defense of God's Word and plan for His people against such odds. But stand firm brothers and sisters in defiance of errant teaching, and know that you have been called to do so in His name. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." (Psalm 1:1)
Remain vigilant and know that your calling to defend objective truth will bring upon you much ridicule. In the words of our Savior in Matthew 5:"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."
May God bless and keep you, and may He restore Truth and Light to the Episcopal Church of America.
Semper Vigilo, Paratus, et Fidelis! Veritas vos Liberabit Mark Alexander, a lowly sinner...albeit repentant.
NOTE: Permission to reprint or forward this article with appropriate citation is herein granted.
Endnotes: 1. "If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God's Word; and if we be uncertain of God's Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or in the synagogue of Satan." -- Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, First Protestant Archbishop of Cantebury
2. Taking even the most humanist position in complete disregard of Scripture, homosexuality is still a clear and undeniable violation of the laws of nature.
3. The passage in Matthew refers back to Genesis. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) Later in Matthew 19:10, Christ also says: "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth..." (In the Greek text, one finds the word "eunouxoi" meaning one with a congenital defect or castrated, and without the ability to consummate marriage. The reference is distinctly different from the Greek word for homosexuals or sodomites as referenced by Paul. Homosexual advocates sometimes incorrectly invoke this passage as justification.)
4. Our great nation's first president, a devout Anglican, George Washington, advised: "The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes." This essay is posted online at http://Federalist.com/papers/03-32_paper.asp.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.