I am appalled but not surprised that the Episcopal Church has ordained its second homosexual bishop. As one who has long admired the rich history and tradition of the Anglican Communion, particularly its Puritan heritage, I am deeply saddened for the Communion and the thousands of biblically-oriented disciples that yearn for better but feel terribly stuck.
Of course, the same situation is unfolding in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Many of the ELCA churches right here in our own community are struggling with this new reality. It is evident that these denominations, once stalwart promoters of righteousness and faith, have succumbed to that which makes personal preferences and practices more important than righteousness and holiness. A relationship with the God of Wonders has been reduced to yet another base religion that cares for nothing but, well, the Self.
My anxiety, frankly, is not that someone would have homosexual yearnings. The fact is, as an unequivocally straight married man I have plenty of my own yearnings that could easily take me to places that could cost me everything; places that would quickly put me at the feet of the Self. The thing that grieves me so much is not that someone would struggle with homosexual feelings, but that we are so willing as people—and as churches—to turn off of the narrow road of which Jesus spoke, a narrow road that demands righteousness and holiness and surrender. Many advocates for gay-rights within the church will often suggest that homosexuals cannot help their gayness or that Jesus never actually spoke against homosexual. Perhaps these things are so. But Jesus was quite direct when he said in Mark 7:20-23:
“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of a man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
No small wonder that Jesus also said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). In a broken world that wants to cater to our every self-interest, all along teasing us with things that ultimately do not satisfy, Jesus directs us to that which will: himself.
But one would be hard pressed to know this looking at today’s leaders in the Episcopal Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Church. What a shame. And then we wonder why it is we struggle to make a difference.
This issue and many others that plague the Church has me frustrated, grief stricken, and angry at times.
Part of the struggle that I face with issues like this is just how we are to behave as a “Church” with others that deny Biblical truths.
One one side I can see the need to call out to others for repentance. To embrace them in a way that we can have dialog about orthodoxy, biblical inerrancy, and taking a stand on the firm foundation of morality that the bible presents despite what culture supports.
On the other side I think of what C.H. Spurgeon and his friend Robert Shindler wrote in the “The Sword and the Trowel” regarding the “Down Grade”. [http://bit.ly/9ORQlb]
Shindler had recognized that every revival of true evangelical faith was followed by a shift or descention from sound doctrine. This downward slope ultimately lead to full out apostasy.
What I question is the soundness of standing next to those who are clearly walking downhill (or racing sometimes). I take exception to this especially when many of the flock are not on solid food but still drinking milk (1 Cor 3:1-4; 18-23).
Where do we as a local church stand with those who stand beside secular wisdom (pop-psych, self-esteemism, ego centricity) in spite of the contradiction with Holy Scripture?
How are we to partner with “churches” that endorse these beliefs or embrace these teachers? Where do we draw the line in light of Rom 16:17-18?
I hesitate to say this but I think we often stand to close to the edge…