Friday, June 3, 2011

"...others will weep."

It's official and apparently has been for some time. The Presbyterian Church USA has officially ratified a measure that opens the door for homosexual ordination in the church, joining a small minority of official Christian bodies to do so. While in the grand scheme of the church universal three million Christians is a drop in the bucket, there is still something disturbing in the way mainline Protestant denominations seem to be succumbing slowly but surely to the rising tide of "progress."

Linda Fleming, an elder and deacon at Knox Presbyterian Church in Ladera Heights, which hosted the Pacific Presbytery meeting, said she was among those who had changed her mind on the issue in recent years.

"I finally decided at the age of 63 that it is inevitable," she said. "I think it's like letting black people come to white churches, or letting women become ministers. It's inevitable."

Still, she couldn't help but express surprise. "For the Presbyterian Church, which is a mainline church, a graying church, it's something."

So reports the LA Times. I sincerely hope that was not the attitude of most of those voting. It is one thing to take a stand on what you believe is correct and another matter entirely to reverse course merely out of fatalistic resignation. I would much rather people take a strong stand on the issue, be convicted of it, rather than support a radical revision of Christian sexual ethics on the basis of ambivalence. Thoughts like these are actually less offensive to me:

"This is an important moment in the Christian communion," said Michael Adee, a Presbyterian elder who heads an organization that fought for gay ordination. "I rejoice that Presbyterians are focusing on what matters most: faith and character, not a person's marital status or sexual orientation."

Of course the separation of a person's sexual behavior from his or her character is entirely artificial. People's genitals are subject to moral agency no less than any other part of their anatomy. If what I do with my hands, where I go with my feet, and what I say with my mouth all speak to and constitute my character then so does into whom I stick my penis, if you can pardon the crudeness (and even if you can't). Christianity Today makes a similar point:

Christianity is a tradition; it is a faith with a particular ethos, set of beliefs and practices handed on from generation to generation. The Christian tradition may be understood as the history of what God's people have believed and how they have lived based upon the Word of God. This tradition is not only a collection of accepted doctrines but also a set of lifestyle expectations for a follower of Christ. One of the primary things handed down in the Christian church over the centuries is a consistent set of lifestyle ethics including specific directives about sexual behavior. The church of every generation from the time of the apostles has condemned sexual sin as unbecoming a disciple of Christ. At no point have any orthodox Christian teachers ever suggested that one's sexual practices may deviate from biblical standards.

Concerning homosexuality there has been absolute unanimity in church history; sexual intimacy between persons of the same gender has never been recognized as legitimate behavior for a Christian. One finds no examples of orthodox teachers who suggested that homosexual activity could be acceptable in God's sight under any circumstances. Revisionist biblical interpretations that purport to support homosexual practice are typically rooted in novel hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture, which produce bizarre interpretations of the Bible held nowhere, never, by no one.

I will now begin taking bets who which denomination will be the next to fall in line.

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