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Ecclesiastical Suicide

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Date January 26, 2024

The following article first appeared here on October 26, 2006. In the light of recent developments across many denominations, most notably the Church of England, it remains a most necessary and timely piece.

‘The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.’ Proverbs 14:1

The mainline Protestant denominations (Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian) are discussing homosexuality with a view to transforming their bodies into more ‘tolerant’, more ‘diverse’, and more ‘inclusive’ organizations. This, any way, is how the advocates of the gay agenda present their programme for change in the churches.

What is the central issue? Simply this: shall homosexuality be normalized? Shall sexual relations between members of the same sex be viewed by the churches as legitimate, acceptable, even as desirable, in the same sense as are sexual relations between married people of the opposite sex? The full implementing of this principle of normalization would mean that homosexual acts would no longer be considered sinful, and practicing homosexuals would be granted full ecclesiastical equality, including the right to serve as ministers and church leaders. Further, children in the church’s educational program would not and could not be taught to prefer one “orientation” or “lifestyle” over another. Little Johnny and Suzie would be taught simply that Heather Has Two Mommies, as a proposed New York City elementary schoolbook famously and nonjudgmentally explained. Enlightened churches would define Christian virtue as loving and accepting those who are different. Conversely sin would be defined as the opposite: judging, condemning, or rejecting alternate lifestyles.

It is silly to argue that Scripture can be reconciled with these views. It can’t. The laws of God (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) and the laws of nature (Romans 1:24ff), the Old Testament moral code and the New Testament law of love (1 Corinthians 6:9) unambiguously condemn homosexual acts as unnatural, corrupt, and perverse. Common sense, the design of nature, and scriptural teaching agree that the defining acts of homosexuality can never be considered moral or normal. For a man to desire to sodomize or be sodomized by another man is both bizarre and evil. The same can be said for all other forms of sexual contact between members of the same sex.

We know that erotic desire can be misplaced and corrupted. There are names for these various forms of perversion that are too awful to contemplate: bestiality, necrophilia, paedophilia, to name a few. Homosexuality is another example of the same. It is misplaced and therefore perverted erotic desire. Certain forms of sexual expression are inherently evil. The Christian church has always known and taught this, and preached a gospel that calls for repentance and promises deliverance from the power of sin: “and such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 5:11).

Normalizing the perverse has never been an option, partly because one cannot be delivered from that which is not considered deviant. Yet the pressure of our cultural movement toward inclusion and acceptance is so powerful that the denominations seem disinclined to draw any moral line anywhere. It appears that there no longer remains any behaviour which mainline Protestants are willing to call sexually perverse. It seems that the category of sin in sexual relations has disappeared altogether.

The great old American Protestant establishment, the once wise mother church of most American Protestants, is pursuing a course of self-destruction. In Savannah respected churches with evangelical traditions are allowing practicing homosexuals to participate in leadership and even to teach in Sunday School and lead Bible studies.

If the mainline denominations persist and re-classify homosexuality as moral and acceptable and normalize homosexual acts, they will apostatize or de-church themselves, and ecclesiastical calamity will ensue. Right now the proverbial “man in the pew” is scratching his head wondering what his denominational leaders and bureaucrats can possibly be thinking!? The laity is shocked! Shocked! They shouldn’t be. The denominational seminaries abandoned biblical authority fifty years ago or more. The strategy of their graduates in the pulpit has been to lay low, to keep their skepticism to themselves. But the issue of homosexuality is “outing” unbelieving clergy, exposing the rotting core of the old mainline that no longer takes the Bible seriously. American Protestantism has become the foolish woman, tearing down its house with its own hands. Let us pray that God mercifully will call it back from the brink of ecclesiastical suicide.

Terry Johnson is the pastor of the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia, and is the author of the Banner of Truth book The Case for Traditional Protestantism.

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