Apr 1, 2009

The Wrong Battle

Once again, the Presbyterian Church (USA) finds itself debating the ordination of homosexuals. The cost of the debate over sexuality has debilitated the ministry and the mission of the Presbyterian Church for the past four decades.

Sure, there are pockets of ministry still taking place. Sure, there are people who are coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. But these ministries are taking place in spite of what the national church is doing.

This debate has cost the Presbyterian Church much. That is an understatement. The countless hours, energy, money this has cost the church is incalculable. This debate has stolen so much creativity and energy from what the Presbyterian Church could have been.

We have fought this fight strictly on the polity front. We keep trying to preserve language or add language that will change the polity.

This is the wrong battle.

The question before us is not an issue of polity. The real question that continues unaddressed is the question of ecclesiology. The real question that must be answered is - What does it mean to be a connectional church in a post-denominational, post-Christian, and post-modern world?

What does it mean to be Presbyterian or any other brand of Christianity in a world where those denominational distinctions mean almost nothing to a people who reject the Christian worldview?

What does it mean to be the body of Christ when there are churches on both extremes who find much more in common with others who may be of different denominations?

For churches who want to maintain traditional standards, we have much more in common with other Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, non-denominationalists, and others who affirm unabashedly the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture.

For churches who favore a change in ordination standards, those churches have much more in common with other churches who are already ordaining homosexuals.

What does it mean to be Presbyterian, when if the only thing that seems to be binding and connecting us is the property clause?

What do we think would happen to a denomination called the PC(USA) if the property clause was no longer binding?

And what does it say about our denomination as a whole if the only thing keeping this denomination together seems to be the property clause?

Unless we answer these ecclesiological questions, we will find ourselves fighting a fight that's not worth fighting.

6 comments:

glen said...

I think you are correct, James. Many of the issues we face stem from a relatively unshared ecclesiology. If the "property clause" was gone the denomination would fail fairly quickly. I think the legal beagles in OGA realize this and hence are quite concerned to keep that from happening.

James said...

The statement, "If the property clause was gone the denomination would fail fairly quickly" is such a sad statement. I think it's true. But that is really sad that we have so little actually connecting us.

We need a reformation of the likes we haven't seen since the first reformation. Not just the PC(USA) but denominations as a whole.

Thanks for reading my blog Glen.

anomaly said...

If you don't share an ecclesiology, how can you share *anything*? Would it not be better to simply walk away from the real estate and focus on a biblical ecclesiology?

Wouldn't God honor that over trying to close the gap between those who believe that God's word is true and those who do not?

God hates sin! How can it be acceptable to ordain an unrepentant sinner? (Regardless of the specific sin.)

ratnaveera said...

Very Nice Information! Yes! God will do any kind of favor for those who He really loves. But, we need to be in patience and tolerance until we become the children of Him.

Evelyn Lee said...

One of my favorite people is Christopher Yuan, who came out of the homosexual life style. I think he's got the right emphasis...it isn't gay or straight that God is interested in...it's holiness. I extracted this from his blog on christopheryuan.com. When our church can get back to the business of holiness, we don't need to focus on silly labels and classification. We're all sinners. Period. We need God.

"The major misconception within the Church is that heterosexuality is what is normal and that this is what God has ordained. But when we look in Scripture, there are about seven times more references to adultery, fornication and lust - all sins associated with heterosexuality - when compared to homosexuality.

Now I'm not trying to justify homosexuality but I'm just proving a point that neither homosexuality or heterosexuality should be the goal for any Christian. Heterosexuality is too broad encompassing adultery, fornication and lust (which are all sins).

The goal for all Christians should be HOLY SEXUALITY.

God has clearly set out what holy sexuality means. God gives us two options for holy sexuality: if we are single, then abstinence and if we are married, then faithfulness (and God has very clearly proscribed marriage to be with a man and a woman).

Therefore, my goal has never been to become straight. Because if I become straight, then I would begin lusting after women (which is a sin) and I would still have to focus on holy sexuality. My goal is holiness.

God says, "Be holy for I am holy." He has never said, "Be heterosexual as I am heterosexual."

I know that God can completely take away any same-sex attractions that I have (He's God anyway!). But if He does, I will then struggle with something else - anger, pride, heterosexual lust, etc. As long as I'm on this side of glory, I will always struggle with temptations with sin.

So I may still have same-sex attractions, but God has broken the chains of the bondage that I was in. You see, CHANGE DOES NOT MEAN THE ABSENCE OF STRUGGLES, BUT CHANGE MEANS THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE HOLINESS IN THE MIDST OF MY STRUGGLES.

So as one who has come out of homosexuality, I have not "become straight" but rather I am on my journey toward sanctification through joyous, holy living.

James said...

Evelyn,

I love the quote from your friend. And he is absolutely right. It is not about homosexuality or heterosexuality. It is about sexual holiness.

The reason why I still believe we have been held captive to the sexuality debate and we have been going about it wrong.

The difference is, unlike the adulterers, fornicators, lusters, etc., the homosexual community in the PC(USA) are insisting that homosexuality be seen as God's plan. They would like to see the polity reflect a position that legitimizes homosexuality as a God given plan for sexuality.

That is where the problem is. TAMFS or More Light is not advocating for adultery or fornication because they know it is sin. But they are asking the church to change its position that the only sexual practice that is acceptable to God is chaste in singleness and fidelity in marriage between husband and wife.

It's good to hear from you Evelyn. Hope you are doing well. Have a blessed Easter!