Follow @taxnomor


Monday, November 28, 2005

'Compromises' on Human Sexuality Undercut Biblical Standards

By Jody Brown
November 22, 2005

(AgapePress) - A coalition of denominational renewal groups is warning Christians in America that an "assault" on biblical standards regarding sexuality -- in the guise of supposed "compromises" -- is in reality subverting those standards so that church bodies and officials can disregard them whenever they wish.

For decades, it seems, several mainline Protestant denominations have wrestled with the issue of homosexuality among their clergy, their laity, and society at large -- and how to deal with it in their official denominational procedures and doctrine. Seemingly unwilling to simply declare the lifestyle as sinful, instead they have taken to adopting different strategies toward homosexuality. The Episcopal Church USA, for example, concluded in 1996 that traditional Christian teachings opposing homosexuality were not "core doctrine." Eventually ECUSA consecrated the first openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson, who now oversees the Diocese of New Hampshire.

Other examples include the United Methodist Church, which last year almost approved a resolution that would have added to the Book of Discipline a phrase "recogniz[ing] that Christians disagree" on the question of whether the practice of homosexuality is or is not compatible with Christian teaching. In a similar vein, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America this year turned away a proposal that would have permitted exceptions to be granted even though ELCA ministers would be expected to "abstain from homosexual sexual relationships."

And next year, the Presbyterian Church (USA) is expected to consider a resolution that would permit local churches to deem as "non-essential" the constitutional requirement of "fidelity in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."

While those who hold a liberal theology might consider such strategies as progressive, the Association for Church Renewal (ACR) -- a roundtable of conservative leaders from these denominations and others such as the American Baptist Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Church of the Brethren, and the United Church of Canada -- sees the moves as a "compromise" intended to win the Church's affirmation of homosexual acts. That, says the ACR, is an attempt to indirectly "subvert the [biblical] standards" and to invent "procedural devices permitting church bodies and officials to disregard the standards at will."

In an open letter to Christians in the United States, the ACR warns that this compromise evident in several Protestant denominations "would sever the church's practice from its doctrine," essentially setting a "terrible precedent" in which a church openly acknowledges a biblical command -- and then treats obedience to that command as "optional."

"If denominations start granting exemptions from church discipline in one area," states the letter, "it will be very difficult to maintain any kind of covenant of mutual accountability within the church."

According to the ACR, advocates of compromise -- or the "third way," as the ACR labels it -- claim their proposed solution would strike a balance between different interpretations of Bible passages and allow the church to "get beyond yes/no polarities" that force it to make painful choices. Such an approach, says the ACR letter, "is utter nonsense."

"The Bible is filled with unavoidable yes/no choices," the letter points out, citing Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 24:15, Matthew 25:33, and Revelation 3:20. "A church that systematically refuses to choose between truth and error has no place left to stand.

"To the extent that any church declines to distinguish the better from the worse biblical interpretations, it undercuts its own ability to teach clear doctrine from the scriptures," add the signers of the ACR letter.

The letter concludes with the ACR's reaffirmation that the standard of fidelity in marriage -- and abstinence in singleness -- remains "the most faithful interpretation of God's will for human sexuality" and an essential component in the Holy Spirit presenting sanctified believers as "holy and blameless" before God.

"We ask you [brothers and sisters in the Lord] to stand steadfast with us in rejecting any compromise that would shift Christ's church away from that godly endeavor," says the letter, which is signed by more than two dozen individuals from 21 different organizations.

News from Agape Press

No comments: