Skip to comments.Keeping the faith
Posted on 05/13/2006 5:11:36 PM PDT by sionnsar
ChristChurch, New Zealand
The great danger is that the biblical teaching about sin is being redefined through this issue of human sexuality. If we weaken on the biblical teaching on the nature of sin, we weaken on the identity of the Saviour from sin. Liberal attitudes towards human sexuality are endangering the Anglican Church, writes PETER JENSEN.
My greatest desire as a Christian minister has always been to point to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. He is the loving Saviour and Lord of all who have turned to him in repentance and faith. I want to align my teaching to the merciful message of the Bible.
This is the same for me today as an archbishop as it was when, as a raw young theological graduate, I was appointed to my first curacy in a university-based parish.
Since becoming Archbishop of Sydney I have found that I am expected to be an instant expert on all sorts of topics, delivering pithy statements couched in attention- grabbing and accessible language, and preferably packaged in usable sound bites.
The topics can range from industrial relations reform to government legislation on cloning or stem-cell research, or to the latest cinema blockbuster such as the Da Vinci Code.
If I am willing to make a comment, I always attempt to speak from the expertise and knowledge that is uniquely my own as a Christian minister. I do not attempt, for example, to become a politician, or an industrial relations expert, or a bioethicist.
My aim is to provide a biblically- based Christian critique and opinion on the question of community concern at hand. I want to ensure that a Christian view, based on biblical teaching, becomes part of community discussion alongside other community voices.
Discussions on human sexuality and sexual relationships are part of an even more important debate on the nature and rights of human beings. Are we to be seen basically as individuals, or as individuals in relationship with others? Western culture has become intensely individualistic, which suits the drive to economic liberalism and globalisation, but may not meet our real needs.
Human sexuality is seen as a matter of individual choice, freedom and justice for the individual. Families struggle to find time for relationships, and faithful, fruitful relationships are not cherished, honoured and supported by the community. Sex has become a commodity rather than a joy.
The Christian churches of the West have been shaped by these developments.
Without doubt a key issue for the church is that of authority. As an Anglican, I accept that the Bible is God's word and that its teaching determines the content of Christian faith. It is clear that its teaching contradicts the individualism of the age in which we live.
I believe that the biblical view is actually much better for the well- being of the whole human family.
The issue before us in this debate on human sexuality, on marriage and sexual relations outside of marriage, is the question of God's authority, and the true nature of humanity. One way of avoiding the central issue of debate is to label those holding the biblical views as "fundamentalists" and "puritans". That is a shame, because there are issues involved here which have a profound bearing on human well-being.
Traditional, scripturally-based Christians believe that marriage is a God-ordained relationship between a man and a woman, and that sexual relationships outside of marriage are sinful relationships.
I recognise as well, however, that in a sex-obsessed culture such as our own, such teaching presents people with agonisingly difficult choices and a call for self-discipline out of keeping with the mood of the times. Those who seek to live like this deserve every honour and care; those of us who lapse - and who does not lapse in all sorts of ways? - come to know something of the grace and love of the Lord as we turn to him afresh.
These questions are now a central issue of dispute in the provinces of the Anglican communion.
The matter was exacerbated by the election three years ago of a divorced clergyman with a male partner to be the Bishop of the United States diocese of New Hampshire, and the earlier decision of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster to allow the blessing of gay marriages in parish churches.
There are active Anglican gay and lesbian lobby groups in the United Kingdom, in Canada and in the US who use the language of "human rights, social justice and full inclusion".
Similar voices are heard in the Anglican Church of Australia, and I suppose, I might also find them in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Traditional, scriptural Anglicans from the West are joined in opposition to liberal secularist views on human sexuality by the majority of Anglican Christians and their bishops from the developing nations. Many of those Anglicans live alongside a missionary Islam. Though they hold to the clear teaching of scripture, they are constantly accused of holding similar views to Western liberal Christians by their Islamist neighbours.
The point at issue is whether the Bible speaks the truth about our relationships and especially our relationship with God. The great danger is that the biblical teaching about sin is being redefined through this issue of human sexuality. If we weaken on the biblical teaching on the nature of sin, we weaken on the identity of the Saviour from sin. It will no longer be clear that Jesus is the unique Saviour of the world.
The efforts of liberal theology are, in human terms, endangering the gospel enterprise of the church. If we do not stand here we will not be able to stand anywhere.
---The Most Rev Dr Peter Jensen is the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and the Metropolitan of New South Wales.
Wish this fellow was a leader in the American church.
Isn't it something for modern liberal theologians to say we can't discriminate on the basis of sex or sexual orientation thinking that this inclusive doctrine makes them non-judgmental. BUT what they are actually saying is that what Jesus, the Bible, the Disciples of Christ are saying in the scripture is "sinful" because they are judgemental. Perhaps they had better go back and read Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, 1 & 2 Kings, and the prophetical books of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and Malachi.
It is not up to man to decide what is truth and what is a lie, what we should accept, and what we should throw away. That's why the Bible was written. It's God's instruction manual for life. If you don't do what the instructions tell you, then you will suffer the consequences, just as things you buy have instructions, if you don't follow them to the letter, then you must face the consequences of your actions and your choices.
And who would want to argue with an Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent God? I wouln't.
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