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April 30, 2009

Jonathan Edwards Is Spinning in His Grave over THIS Spin

Gay activists are attempting to put a positive spin on the defeat of their effort to get the Presbyterian Church USA (in which I was married many years ago) to rescind a church rule requiring members of clergy to agree to "fidelity in marriage  . . . or chastity in singleness." Presbyterians shot down the measure for the the third time in a dozen years, according to Beliefnet, although in lesser numbers than previously.

Tricia Dykers Koenig, a spokesperson for the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which supports allowing practicing homosexuals to serve as clergy (despite emphatic Biblical teachings to the contrary), says, "The big story here is that . . . our understanding of what it means to be created in the image of God is broadening." 

No, Ms. Koening--it's being corrupted. Our understanding of what it means to be created in God's image should reflect God's own teaching, which is spelled out in His own book--not in position papers published by activist groups. This book teaches that all humans are created in God's image. But it also teaches that we live in a fallen world, where people suffer from all sorts of maladies and evil desires--including, tragically, the desire for intrinsically disordered sexual experiences. Biblical writers variously describe same-sex behavior (not desire) as "detestable" (Lev. 18:22), "wicked" (1 Cor. 6:9-10) and "vile" (Romans 1:26). Scripture is equally clear on the qualities church leaders should demonstrate (1 Timothy 3:1-13): Their behavior should be "above reproach," which would seem to eliminate those who engage in behavior biblical writers describe as "vile."

We have more nonsense from Daniel Burke, the author of the Beliefnet piece, who writes: "Like most mainline Protestant churches, the 2.3-million member PCUSA has struggled for decades to balance biblical injunctions against homosexuality and society's evolving standards of gay rights."

I've no idea what Burke's religious background is, but  here he is making a mistake we often see made by those who write about the church for secular (or at least, not Christian) publications. Burke is comparing apples and oranges--comparing church teaching about right and wrong behavior within the church with a culture's treatment (employment, etc.) of citizens who publicly self-identify as homosexual. Burke also seems to be suggesting that the church has some catching up to do when it comes to an understanding of human sexuality, and that our so-sophisticated culture has the superior position on this matter. (At least, it does for now. Who knows--it may "evolve" again and decide that sexual relations between members of the same sex are wrong.) But Christians believe that the Bible contains the Truth about all of life and reality, which means that everything--including "society's evolving standards," must bow before it. Those outside the church may, of course, bow to whatever or whomever they wish.

Finally, we have the wince-inducing comments of the Rev. Janet Edwards, a descendant of Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards. He must be spinning in his grave over the antics of his modern relative, who last year performed a same-sex "marriage" and told Beliefnet that "with more presbyteries than ever acknowledging that our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters in Christ can also receive God's call to ministry, I feel that the tide is truly turning." But does God truly call, as leaders of His precious flocks, people who refuse to repent of what God Himself calls sin, and who intend to continue engaging in it? Think of the Apostle Paul, a vicious murderer whom God called into the ministry. How long, do you think, would God have used Paul if he had persisted in his sins?

Were he alive today, Jonathan Edwards would likely preach a sermon to his descendant based on Romans 1:18-32, which teaches, in part, that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. . . . So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. . . . Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity. . . . And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct."

God does not offer Himself on our terms; He offers Himself only on HIS terms. We may not always like or understand those terms, but we cannot deliberately substitute our own preferences for biblical teachings and accurately call ourselves "brothers and sisters in Christ."

Am I obsessed with this issue? No. But I do think it's incredibly important for Christians to speak up--loudly--when they see those who self-identify as Christians preaching falsehoods and misleading others, both inside and outside the church, about what Christianity teaches, and what the Church should be about. This was how Christ's followers reacted to false teachings in New Testament times, and we should do no less today--certainly not out of a fear of offending those who seem determined to be offended unless and until we, like they, turn our backs on God's eternal teachings.  

If Christians seem to be speaking out more often about the sin of homosexual behavior, than about, say, the sin of adulterous behavior, it's because we find very few Christian leaders suggesting that adultery is acceptable in the eyes of God. Or child abuse. Or lying and cheating and drunkenness. We don't have to defend biblical teachings on these matters because few people inside the Church are attacking them. They aren't misrepresenting or "reinterpreting" verses about these sins because . . . well, because they agree with them. And so, in substantial part, does American culture--including our elites, who may engage in adultery, but don't pretend it's okay--especially when their spouses catch them at it. Especially when said spouses are swinging a cast iron frying pan. . . .

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Steve Rempe

I believe it was the Presbyterian Church (USA), not the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), that defeated the challenge to its constitutional "fidelity and chastity" clause.

The PCUSA's 2008 General Assembly passed a proposal replacing the existing clause with non-specific langauge that would allow for the ordination of practicing homosexuals and others in non-chaste, non-married relations. The Assembly's proposal went back to the individual presbyteries, where it lost handily.

The Presbyterian Layman (www.layman.org) has a good assortment of articles and analysis on the issue.

Gina Dalfonzo

Thanks, Steve. We've made the correction.


Loath as I am to even consider offering a correction to anything Anne writes, I must take some issue with this:

"No, Ms. Koening--it's being corrupted."

Actually, what's happening is the conservative churches are leaving, having had enough of funding this nonsense with mandatory contributions to a governing body that is far left liberal and has been for a very long time.

I helped write a separation document for my own church. Like Rolley, I went looking for a door to nail it to but had to settle for bits being volleyed over the Internet. (I have had to labor to adapt to Presbyterian culture, where raging fury is expressed via a lifted eyebrow or a strongly worded memo. Me, I'd be throwing my copy of "Robert's Rules of Order" - the book next to every Presbyterian's Bible - at someone. I marvel that these Scots - descendants of the Braveheart bunch - are so tamed.)

So, Anne, I would have said "No, Ms. Koening--it's *narrowing* - just like the minds of remaining PCUSA church members."

I agree with all else you said, Anne, as I usually do, thinking that Jonathan Edwards would today add "If God gave them up to their lusts, why shouldn't we?" And that's just what *my* church did.

Jason Taylor

"I marvel that these Scots - descendants of the Braveheart bunch - are so tamed.)"

That's probably what Major Fergusson said a few weeks before they came for him at King's Mountain.


But don't you worry me laddy. The Sasseneches the'll not get the better of us. Not while I got my trusty dirk and claymore. Blow the pipes, the clans be a gathering.


How ironic that a gay rights activist would have the name "Dykers"?


Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe, Choose your gender if you know. "the Cathedral Builder" pursuing cultural beauty by Jeffery J. Ventrella. the author talks about the priest or pastor who "came out of the closet" and the church's problem was how do we find a way to accept homosexuality. This same person has an alcohol problem and we send him to Betty Ford rehab to be cured. Why do we treat one as a problem and the other as an interpretation of God's word issue. Both are the same, sin and God disapproves of both.

Jason Taylor

Whats so great about "coming out of the closet"? Everybody has things about them that should remain in the closet, thank you very much.

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