At our recent General Assembly there were a number of very contentious and potentially extremely divisive issues discussed that, if viewed outside of an eschatological context, would be very discouraging. The one issue had to do with the alleged heresy of one of our Ministers and the other had to do with our Ministers being allowed to conduct Civil Unions at best and at worst would allow for every Minister to follow his/her own conscience in the conducting of these new forms of civil partnerships.

I am happy to tell you that with regards to both issues our denomination made what I believe to be the correct decisions … the retiring Minister who is accused of heresy is having his “Emeritus” status withheld until the Court of the General Assembly has ruled on the matter and the matter of Civil Unions was rejected in all its forms and the directive includes the rejection of “blessing” these unions as well (in other, if a same sex couple were to go somewhere else and have their relationship recognized by State that relationship and “union” is still not allowed to be blessed by any of our Ministers). None of our property can be used for either a Civil Union or a blessing of the same.

We can ask, how on earth is this even considered in a Christian denomination that has for the last 500 years (i.e. since its inception) rejected any form of marriage other than between one man and one woman? How is it, that a denomination that understands itself as part of the one Holy, Catholic (global/ universal) and Apostolic Church (to use the words of the Apostolic Creed) that has existed for 2 000 years and that has rejected any form of marriage other than between one man and woman … how is it possible? Well, I believe that this is another “sign of the time”.

It is an eschatological warning to us as the Church that the great falling away has started (without some of us even noticing this fact). I believe that the rejection of Christ’s Authority as revealed to us in Holy Scripture and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit is another symptom of a widening gulf between God’s Law and Man’s Law … with man’s law prevailing in our courts of law and trying to insinuate itself into the Holy Church of which Christ is the Head and Bridegroom.

We need to recognize the times in which we live and re-iterate the fact that the Church has never been confused about what we believe with regards to marriage or any of the other doctrines handed down to us over 2 000 years by those faithful believers who not only struggled to do this at times but even gave up their lives through the shedding of their blood to maintain the truth of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we never be found in a place in which we are on the wrong side of our Lord Jesus Christ and insult the blood of the martyrs.

Having said all of this, I have to say that we did not acquit ourselves as a Church when these decisions were made. The sad picture of a Council of the Church, laughing and applauding, humiliating those that disagreed with the established orthodox position on marriage stands as an indictment against us. I cannot imagine that Jesus would have been found laughing at and humiliating a man, who although wrong and misled, is nevertheless a human being deserving respect and dignity. I cannot imagine that this spectacle is what the world needs to see of the Church. I cannot imagine that this is the way in which we win over our opponents and help them to see and embrace the truth as we find in Jesus and His Holy Scripture. We may have won a debate but lost a great many souls because of it. We need to search our hearts and purge it of vindictiveness and any hate that may have found roots within us.

We need to search our hearts and ensure that when we say, “hate the sin but love the sinner” we really mean it. May we search our hearts in all honesty and try and imagine Jesus standing with us in a mocking crowd. May we always be found to be with Him and not that which is against Him. A wise man once said to me, “We may at times become angry and that is our right at unrighteousness but we never have the right to be cruel.”

May this event help us all to reflect on how we will conduct ourselves when we find ourselves in these kinds of debates for the very heart of the Church itself. Amen.



Filed under: From the Pastor's Desk

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