Christians have been saying for years that we’re living in the last days. Even the Apostles believed that to be true. Every so often we’ll see signs in the heavens, or less dramatic but certainly equally clear earth-bound signs, that things must be winding down. In the past seven days the signs have been abundant.
First, the Miss USA pageant declared itself the final arbiter of
Second, the Presbyterian Church USA returned to their recurring debate over the issue of gay clergy. This measure has been defeated in official denominational voting twice in the past decade. Yet, pro-gay activists within the PCUSA resurrect the matter over and over again, never letting it rest in peace, intent on opening the church to homosexual ministers and closing it to biblical standards.
This year, the proposed amendment to the PCUSA constitution will be voted down again. Traditional marriage will be upheld by an ever-shrinking majority of the presbyteries, including, ironically, the
The PCUSA has been heading in this direction for years. In addition to the constant assault of the pro-gay agenda, the denomination lowered its standard for marriage last year in an effort to give the local presbyteries silent latitude in determining whether to ordain gay men and women or not. At last summer’s General Assembly, the denomination voted to remove from their constitution these words adopted in 1996: “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” So much for Paul’s call for elders to be “a one woman man” (1 Timothy 3:2; a word-for-word translation).
The theological basis for much of their arguments in favor of changing marital standards is not cultural relevance or even biblical exegesis, however. According to Janet Edwards, co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians, the pro-homosexual group pushing for the change, the problem has been that the church has been out of step with “the love Jesus has for all God’s children.” No, the problem is the assumption that all people are God’s children.
Biblically-speaking, we are all God’s creations. However, we are not all God’s children. Jesus said that some are the children of Satan (John 8:44). By that he did not mean that they were the physical progeny of the arch enemy. Instead, He meant that their actions, their sinfulness, betrayed their true allegiances. God’s children act in accordance with God’s revealed will. Satan’s children follow their fleshly desires and ignore the commands of the Heavenly Father.
This error, the lumping of all humans into the family of God, regardless of their faith and faithfulness, is the root error of the gay-lesbian faction in the PCUSA just as it was in the Social Gospel Movement nearly 100 years ago. The Social Gospel Movement, like the gay rights movement of today, exploded onto the scene with much fanfare, was declared the true gospel of a loving Jesus, and then petered out just as quickly because its theological foundation was rotten to the core. The Gospel, the true Gospel of Jesus’ love is based on the reality of our sinfulness, not our unity in it.
For those who’ve been following the disturbing trends in the modern church, these changing sentiments in the PCUSA are not surprising. They are simply the culmination of a century or more of biblical and theological drift. It’s little wonder that the PCUSA is hemorrhaging members every year. Who needs to go to the church when the church is no different than the world?
The third sign that I saw last week that the apocalypse might be finally upon us is the fact that the Associated Press, never known as a bastion of conservative biblical scholars, diagnosed accurately the root cause of this ongoing debate. It is a fight, the reporter observed, “over biblical authority.”
Finally, someone gets it. The issue of gay clergy in the church is not about social acceptance. It’s not at its root about love. It’s about the Bible. Does the Bible condemn or condone homosexual activity? If it condemns, will the modern church add its voice to the biblical choir or will it silence the choir director by changing the tune?
The PCUSA is voting as we “speak,” casting their vote not for gay or straight pastors but for or against the right of God to declare His stance and expect it to be honored. Thank you, Associated Press, for getting the story right. Now, let’s pray God’s churches will, too.
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About Peter Beck
Peter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
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