In an article that appeared over the weekend, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Rev. Gradye Parsons, comments on an on-going case in which the congregation and its leaders are barred from making public comment.
Parsons told the reporter that, “The way we got here is the way America got here. People suddenly met their gay fellow Presbyterians, their gay children or grandchildren and realized that false dichotomy — that a person couldn’t be Christian and gay — it just wasn’t true.”
Parsons here admits that the decision of the denomination is purely sociological, based upon a sudden discovery of same-sex attracted people in our midst. He admits that the basis of the decision was human rationalization and not God’s Word nor God’s design. The person charged with upholding the constitution of the denomination, which includes the church’s theological Confessions, makes no reference to Scripture nor theology.
Parsons’ assertion that the PCUSA has recently discovered gay people is, on its face, a direct contradiction to what he said earlier in the same article. He admits that the PCUSA has been at this for 40 years. The truth is, the denomination has been actively engaged in this internecine struggle since the mid 1970’s. The 1978 Definitive Guidance on the subject aligned the denomination with the Biblical prohibitions against same-sex intimate acts. The “fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman or chastity in singleness” requirement for those in leadership stood from 1997-2010. The reality of same-sex attracted people and the denomination’s acquiescence to those demanding the church change to accommodate their desires is not new for Presbyterians.
Parsons comments also imply that those who do not agree with him and the trend of the denomination away from Biblical standards on LGBTQ issues are somehow not in contact with LGBTQ people. Again, this could not be further from the truth. Local church ministry, including the local church under discussion in the article, is done with real people, broken by real sin, in the context of the real world. That means that everyone in ministry in the 21st century is in contact with people faced with temptations of all kinds, including sexual anarchy. The question is not relationships, but the response to the condition of the person with whom we are in relationship. Do we speak the truth in love to them or do we fall into the error described in Romans 1. Knowing God’s righteous decree, do we not only fail to speak the truth but approve of those who practice any form of sin?
When God’s Word speaks about homosexual practice it speaks with one voice and that voice is never affirming of the activity. So, has God, as Parsons says of the PCUSA, suddenly discovered same-sex attracted people? Is God’s view evolving on the subject or are there now those who claim to know better than God on the subject?
Just because we feel something, even passionately, does not make it right. God alone has the authority to determine what is right or righteous and what is wrong or sinful.
By grace, God has a redeeming plan for all who acknowledge that our lives are broken by sin and in repentance, turn to Jesus Christ in full submission to His Lordship. And yes, that includes our sexuality. There’s no part of life that is excluded from Christ’s reign.
There’s nothing in the article about God’s power to transform a person. Instead Parsons draws a false parallel to slavery and women hoping to bully those who believe what the Bible says about homosexual practice into standing down. Then, after making direct reference to two justice issues upon which there is no room for divergent views (race and gender), Parsons says that on the issue of LGBTQ inclusion “the church still loves and affirms those people who think differently,” he said. “We want to be a church where both sides of the issue can live together.”
Doesn’t that sound fun? After being told that you’re wrong, unaccepting, unloving and behind the times, you can stay — but you should know that you’re going to be subjected to serious efforts at re-education.
To help Lehigh Valley churches embrace inclusivity, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center will host a December conference, according to Adrian Shanker, the organization’s founder and executive director. The event’s keynote speaker will be Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians and a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Notably, Alex is also transgendered. I’ve attended and written about workshops that Alex has led. I expect that he will be persuasive to those in Lehigh presbytery and elsewhere who fail to recognize the very real spiritual battle being waged for the future of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and every member of it.