All Around Us

The “Homosexual Battle” 

One would be inclined to ignore what can only be a very sickening and deplorable development within many churches today. One would tend to insist that when Scripture so clearly condemns a thing, we simply remember what Scripture says—and pretend that these evils do not exist. That Scripture condemns homosexuality is indeed so clear that even the most ardent heretic in this regard does not dispute it. Those who support a “homosexual life-style,” and now support the ordination of such into the ministry within the churches, insist that the teachings of Scripture are not applicable to our own day. 

All of this comes down to the old evil: the denial of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. Where Scripture is questioned and denied, all kinds of errors must enter. If there is no standard of judgment, a reliable standard, then anything goes. 

Various magazines, and even secular news broadcasts, have been calling attention to a battle within some of the large denominations in connection with the ordination of homosexuals into the ministry. The question appears to stir enough people within these churches to threaten some sort of division. Yet one wonders whether those who have accepted and gone along with such a degree of apostasy within the churches, will not inevitably go along with all of this too.

Christianity Today reports in its Feb. 10, 1978 issue on the United Presbyterian Church (Northern Presbyterian):

Schism in the United Presbyterian Church? It might happen if the UPC’s General Assembly this May adopts the proposed policy statement of a denominational task force that spent fifteen months studying whether self-acknowledged practicing homosexuals can be ordained. In summary, the task force said that according to constitutional mandate ordination decisions must be made by the presbyteries (area governing units) and congregations involved, not by the General Assembly. But it also said that ordination of homosexuals who are otherwise qualified should be permitted.

Two years ago the Presbytery of New York City x asked the UPC General Assembly for guidance on whether to ordain an avowed homosexual under its jurisdiction. The assembly replied that the ordination of such a person was “at the present time injudicious if not improper,” but it asked a representative group of clergy and laity to study the issue and make recommendations. The nineteen-member group finished its work many weeks ago. It issued both a majority and minority report. The majority report contained about 1.50 pages of study material and a twenty-eight-page proposed policy statement approving the ordination of homosexuals. It was written by Byron E. Shafer, chairman of the religious studies department of Fordham University. The minority report, signed by. five persons, asked the General Assembly to rule that the church’s constitution precludes the ordination of homosexuals. . . .

Much of the material in the background paper is summarized in the proposed policy statement. Among the major points in the proposed statement are these:

Sexual orientation is best understood as affectional attraction rather than sexual behavior, and homosexuality “is a strong, enduring, not consciously chosen and usually irreversible affectional attraction to and preference for persons of the same sex.”

Homosexuality is “a minor theme in Scripture” and is not mentioned either by the prophets or by Jesus himself.

In the full context of Scripture, “. . .we must conclude that Paul’s understanding of homosexual behavior does not adequately encompass the modern phenomenon of multiple forms of homosexuality arising from a variety of psychosocial causes. . . .”

Homosexuals may be admitted to church membership or the ordained offices if they can give honest affirmation to the vows required and if the deciding body is satisfied that the candidates meet all the criteria for membership or ordination. (Deacons and ruling elders in UPC churches are ordained and take nearly the same vows as the clergy.)

Nothing in the church’s constitution either prohibits or requires the ordination of avowed homosexuals; the judgment of the ordaining body as to fitness of any candidate—judged as an individual—is the decisive factor.

Ordination does not set a person apart “into a class or status separated from other Christians.”

Continuing and widespread study is needed, including efforts to heal the church of its “homophobia,” described as the irrational fear of homosexuality and homosexuals.

Now perhaps the above hardly needs comment in our churches. Yet, notice the many obvious heresies in that which is taught. Strikingly, sin is not mentioned. Evidently, in the minds of those who draw up such a report, there is no such thing as sin—certainly not in the sense that Scripture speaks of it. Notice how these separate that which Christ taught while He was on earth from the rest of Scripture—as though Christ did not speak through the apostles when they wrote Scripture. Notice that homosexuality is termed a “minor theme” in Scripture—hence dismissed as not of particular concern to God. Yet on such basis we would soon dismiss many of the teachings of the church of God. Certainly the truths of Scripture are not established by the number of times these are mentioned in the Bible. If homosexuality is mentioned only once in Scripture as sin—that is sufficient. Notice how Paul is put down as one who didn’t know much about the different degrees and forms of homosexuality—as though all of this was Paul’s invention and not the writing of the Holy Spirit for the church through the ages. And one could continue. The fact of apostasy is so clear that all those who love God and His Word can only be repelled by the corruption and must flee all such. 

The Lutherans Alert, January 1978, reports on a. publication for Lutherans called Gay Lutheran. The magazine professes to represent the homosexual viewpoint of Lutherans who are “gay.” 

Another magazine, Christian News, January 23, 1978, reports:

Full acceptance of homosexually-oriented persons by the church was advocated by a Protestant theologian who addressed more than 200 clergy here. 

Dr. James B. Nelson, professor of Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary, New Brighton, said he had concluded that such acceptance is “a Christian mandate” and “fully in accord with the Christian gospel.” 

In his address to the Minneapolis Ministerial Association, Dr. Nelson emphasized he was speaking for himself and not for his seminary or his denomination, the United Church of Christ. 

. . . Dr. Nelson said the Bible “nowhere says anything about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation.” 

The Old Testament, he noted, does refer to certain kinds of homosexual acts. The “real sin” in the Sodom and Gomorrah story, he, said, was “inhospitality and injustice.” 

. . . Dr. Nelson said there was no record of any words by Jesus about homosexuality. The Apostle Paul, writing in

Romans 1,

makes the strongest New Testament condemnation of homosexuality, he added. 

While accepting Paul as “a peerless interpreter of the heart of the Christian gospel” Dr. Nelson said the apostle was “an historically conditioned fallible human being.” He noted Paul’s negative views on the status of women and his support of human slavery. 

In view of this, he said, Paul’s judgments on homosexual acts ought not be exempted from moral examination.

Such is the fruit of the denial of the inerancy of Scripture.

Evangelism Efforts 

Often the church is rebuked because it does not carry on an effective “evangelism campaign.” Examples of zealous people in this field are mentioned: Billy Graham and Bill Bright, among others. But a report from the “Institute for American Church Growth” is quoted in the Banner, February 24, 1978, that points out that these efforts are not all they are made to be.

Of the 434,100 people who came to the Graham crusade, 18,000 “came forward” to profess faith in Christ. Of these 18,000, 54 percent were people rededicating their lives to Christ. Local churches received 8,400 cards signed by converts. Only about 15 percent of these ended up as active church members. Moreover, eight out of ten of the persons who had joined churches after attending the crusade already had friends or relatives attending the churches they joined.

Graham’s results do appear to be considerably better than those of “Here’s Life, America.” According to the institute’s study, of the hundreds of thousands of people who made “decisions to accept Christ” over the telephone, 97 of every 100 never joined the church.

What were their conclusions concerning the most effective way of bringing people “into the church”? The study claims that “people brought into the church by a relative or friend” represented 70-80 percent of the new membership within a church. If such a study is valid, and there is no reason to believe it is not, it should tell us something. First, all the gimmicks and tricks to bring people into church do not even outwardly succeed in their design. The tremendous campaigns in the name of evangelization of the nation fail. But secondly, the testimony and walk of the child of God are used by God to bring people to church and under the preaching of the Word. God is not limited as to the means He uses to save His people. He does, however, save them in harmony with what His own Word declares. And He uses often the lives of His own people as the means to bring others to the consciousness of salvation. Does your life also show your love for and concern about the Kingdom and its righteousness—so that others see and know where you stand?