Posted by: gmscan | January 15, 2012

Homophobe?

In the past few months, since the PCUSA endorsed the ordination of homosexuals, I have repeatedly been called a homophobe for doubting that this move is true to scripture. In half a century of civic activism I have never been called this. How odd that it should come exclusively from my fellow Presbyterians, and this seems to be how low this denomination has descended.

I find it interesting that the very people who have for years called for tolerance and understanding are so quick to resort to bullying and name calling now that they have won their battle.

But it is nothing new for people to be reviled for following scripture. Jesus warned that the world will hate his followers, just as it has hated Him. Meanwhile, I have yet to hear any explanation of how acceptance of homosexuality is condoned in the Bible. How will homosexual preachers proclaim the Word of God? Will they simply skip over the troublesome passages? Below are a few, just from the New Testament, never mind Leviticus and Sodom and Gomorrah.

Acts 15:19-20

“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.” (James speaking)

Acts 15:28-29

“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality….” (from the letter of the Council to the Gentiles)

Romans 1:26-27

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations to those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among the pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:11-13

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:19

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

2 Corinthians 12:21

I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

1 Timothy 1:8-10

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine….

Will these passages be purged?

During the debate on homosexual ordination, I asked repeatedly whether the PCUSA still considers homosexuality to be a sin. I never got an answer. No one said yes and no one said no. I can’t fathom why this was such a tough question. Scripture is not ambiguous on this — it clearly is a sin. But so are many other things mankind does. We all sin and we all deserve to be condemned. But faith in Christ means that we can ask Jesus to carry the burden of our sins. But how can He do that if we refuse to even acknowledge that we have sinned? After all, John wrote:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

I also repeatedly came across people who seem to think that homosexuality is something new, that ancient people had odd ideas about sex because they didn’t experience much of it – or something like that. I know that adolescents of every generation think that they have invented sex — that they are doing things their mothers and fathers would never have done. But we usually outgrow that notion by the time we’re 30.

In fact, sex is one thing that hasn’t changed a whit in 4,000 years.  It is done today exactly the way it was done back then – including homosexuality, bestiality, adultery, prostitution, you name it. All of these things are discussed (and condemned) in the Bible. I suppose gay rights advocates would argue that homosexuality used to be immoral but no longer is. Really? Why would that be? What, pray tell, is to be considered sexually immoral today?  And who has set the standard?

For me, I think I’ll stick to scripture. Being called names is a small price to pay.

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Responses

  1. Greg:
    Let us assume that homosexuality is a sin.
    At what point do you draw the line on toleration?
    Would openly homesexual couples be allowed membership?
    What about a homosexual who wishes to teach children, or even adults?
    Should they be allowed to do so?
    Should a homosexual be allowed to be a deacon or elder?

    • The “line” has been drawn by God as mentioned in the passages above.

      No.
      No.
      No.
      and
      No.

      Please refer to the last line in 1 Cor 5:11-13 sighted in Greg’s article.

      However, please note that God forgives all sins and we are all called to come to the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing.

  2. Please allow me to contribute. I pray I do not affend anybody, however sin is a charged subject. Regardless of the type.

    Let us assume Homosexuality is a sin. A sin is a sin to different from another. As a Catholic, I was taught there is a differnce, however they are still sins.

    Sin is a term used in archery and it represents missing the mark. When I am discerning a response to my sins, I go thru an excercise of thinking it thru considering another less emotional sin. For example, acholism is a sin. Alcohol is legal. However the excess use of achol damages our mind and affects our ability to be stable and reliable. A person with a severe achol addition would not be asked to lead or teach children (although many people are allowed to mantian postions they achieved before they became acholic). Our system is very tolerant of acholics in general. Similar to Homosexuality in the characteristics of the privacy of the sin. You can be in the closet or our in the open.

    Jesus taught that Iron will sharpen iron as one believer will encourage another believer to sin less. Jesus did this with the woman that was about to be stoned. Jesus called for the person amoug the crowd that was sin less to throw the first stone.

    With non-believers Jesus gives us one call to action, love them as ourselves. Unless an alcholic or homosexual person is in an accoutable relationship with you love the sinner and tolerate the sin.

    I pray that my long post will bless somebody this evening.

  3. Greg,

    Let me first acknowledge the disappointment you express in this post. There is certainly much to be disappointed about in the current state of affairs in the PCUSA, and I too feel very disappointed.

    But let me rephrase back to you a passage you wrote, only substituting into it another sin that is on Paul’s list you quoted from, along with homosexuality:

    “I have yet to hear any explanation of how acceptance of gluttony is condoned in the Bible. How will fat preachers proclaim the Word of God? Will they simply skip over the troublesome passages?”

    The new rules in the book of order now “condone” the ordination of people whose body mass index exceeds 30, whereas the old rules did not. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? What I could never figure out is why the conservative right wing of the denomination focused almost exclusively on the ordination of homosexuals, when, strictly speaking, by the rules, nobody could qualify for ordination. But I don’t really agree that the new rules condone sin. They just changed the focus of ordination standards from the avoidance of failings – some would say hypocritically, since nearly all sins but one got the wink – to the embracing of virtues and discipleship to Jesus.

    As part of that discipleship to Jesus I would agree that the name-calling should stop. God knows, I have been the brunt of enough bullying and name-calling from my fellow Evangelicals to last a lifetime. Whether you smell like a liberal in the house of conservatives, or smell like a conservative in the house of liberals, the house is all over you like flies on excrement. It may be a behavior that reflects the culture of the times, but it is a bad example and a bad witness.

    So yes: Let’s abolish all name-calling.

    Jodie Gallo
    Los Angeles, Ca

    • Not a great argument, Jodie. I don’t think gluttony is a sin. I can only find one place in the Bible that even mentions gluttony (Prov 23:20), and then it is suggested as something that is not wise.

      Greg

      • Greg,

        I find 7 references to gluttony in my NAS bible, usually paired up with drunkenness. Once even Jesus is accused of being a drunk and a glutton.

        But more to the point, the old reading of the book of order stated “Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.”

        One’s opinion as to whether a practice was a sin or not was not required, nor requested.

        In the Greater Catechism in the Book of Confessions, we have a fairly comprehensive list of the sins covered under each of the 10 commandments. Under the 7th commandment we find the following question and answer.

        “Q. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the Seventh Commandment?

        A. The sins forbidden in the Seventh Commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are: adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel, prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stageplays, and all other provocations to, or acts of, uncleanness either in ourselves or others.”

        Gluttony is declared to be a sin, right there between idleness and drunkenness. That’s just the list under the 7th commandment. Do you see now why we had to do away with G-6.0106b? It simply could not be enforced without causing hypocrisy and making a mockery of the whole ordination process.

        Going forward, I have to say that scholars don’t agree on many things, but most Bible scholars do agree that reading disjointed bible verses out of context is an error prone form of proof-texting. I personally believe that in the context it is used, and for all the evidence that is or is not on the table, “arsenokoitai” could just as easily mean ‘lazy bum’: a man who lies around in bed all day doing nothing. Seriously.

        Either way, I think it is a much better practice to focus on a person’s virtues, strengths and earnestness in discipleship to Jesus Christ to decide if they should be ordained, rather than their warts. It is much healthier for the community and for the individual alike. It might even be a good first step in getting away from the culture of name-calling. Amen?

        Jodie

      • Good thoughtful response. Jodie. Thank you.

        I will accept that gluttony is considered a sin. In fact this is a pretty good list of what not to do. (BTW, I looked up the “keeping of stews” citations and it must have meant something different then than it does now. All of the references refer to prostitution.) Would you want a pastor who does these things — dresses immodestly, keeps pornography, leers at the ladies, is drunk in the pulpit, etc?

        I agree that taking a single passage out of context can be deceiving, but when you find multiple verses from different books all saying pretty much the same thing, the case is much stronger.

        As for the meaning of the Greek word (thank you for the “arsenokoitai” reference), this is a pretty thin reed to hang your argument on. Homosexuality was not uncommon in ancient Greece. I expect if that is the word they used for it, it is likely that is what they meant. All of these citations are talking about sexual immorality, not just being lazy. The Romans quote is even more explicit – “the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” But, bottom line, I will go with the weight of the scholarship here.

        I have no problem with giving great consideration to the virtues of the candidate, but the entire faith is based on the idea that we are all sinners and we are required to repent for our sins and ask the Lord for forgiveness. It is not optional, imo. If we insist our sin is not really a sin, we are right back to John (above).

      • Dennis wrote:
        Open homosexuality is a display of a person not being in controi of their sexual priorities and practices.
        Are you suggesting that closed (secret) homosexuality would mean the person is in control?
        Is it impossible for a married couple to not be in control of their sexual priorities and practices?
        Don Levit

      • Greg,

        Your reply was gracious as well, and I return the thanks.

        I was hoping, and still hoping, you will come back to the topic of name calling, since I think that was the main thrust of your post to begin with.

        In the mean time, another couple of thoughts:

        On the topic of the word “arsenokoitai”, as you said “I expect if that is the word they used for it, it is likely that is what they meant.” That is precisely my point. It is NOT the word they used for it.

        I encourage you to do your own research, but here is what I have found and believe to be the case. The word was made up by the Apostle Paul. As you said, homosexuality in many varieties was well known to the Greeks and an integral part of their society, but none of the words they used for it wound up in the Bible. Nobody really knows why Paul invented a new word. There is another word used, “malakoi” which literally means “soft”. It is used to describe fine cloths that rich people wear, and also effeminate and/or cowardly men, who may or may not be passive pederasts. It shows up several places in the NT, but gets translated as homosexual or male prostitute I think only once. Again, in context, it could just mean “fat cats”. Rich plutocrats. It may have had no sexual connotation at all. (If you are a Bible geek, this stuff can be lots of fun).

        The Romans 1 quote is a double-edged sword. It is booby-trapped and it can’t be quoted without self-condemnation. That whole passage bleeds over into Romans 2 which reads “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things….” and so on. The passage suckers the reader in, then goes in the opposite direction.

        To the topic of ordination, it is important to remember that ordination is not a Sacrament or biblical precept. In the OT, priests are so by birth right, and in the NT, ministers are servants and slaves, and a Teacher is anybody with students. But ordination IS a matter of order (order – ordination). It is entirely appropriate for the PCUSA to hold a set of behavioral and educational standards for ordination.

        The problem is when we try to justify these standards with words like “sin” and “repentance”. Those are religious terms, about things we work out throughout our entire lives, things reasonable people disagree on all the time. Sin, repentance (and grace) are the air we breath and the water we drink. Ordained people are not people of different levels of sanctity than the rest. Therefore, ordination should not be a competition of whose sin is worst, and whose repentance is genuine, and whether this or that is even a sin. Making it so just causes needless division and rancor, cussing and name-calling with no upside, as is plain and obvious by the current circumstance. But nevertheless, there are ethical standards we want our ordained folks to meet. In my opinion, we can and should just spell them out, and revise them from time to time as we all see fit.

        Jodie

      • Dennis wrote:
        Homosexuality is a public display of a person not being in control of their sexual prioritiies and practices.
        Would your answer be the same if the person was able to keep his homosexuality a secret.
        Are we to assume that married couples always have control over thier sexual priorities and practices?
        Don Levit

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    To Don, I would say first that what the church does and what civil society (the world) does are two entirely different things. If civil society allows the things you mention (teaching children for example), so be it. We cannot expect the world to be bound to Christ.

    On your other points, sinners are to be welcomed in the church, else there would be no one in the pews at all. But we are expected to repent of our sins and ask the Lord for forgiveness. If someone takes pride in his sin, he should not be in a position of leadership.

    This relates also to Dennis’ point on alcoholism, something I know a lot about. Unrepentant drunkards should not be allowed in positions of leadership in the church, nor unrepentant adulterers, thieves, murderers, and so on. If homosexuality is a sin it should be treated no differently than these others as far as the church is concerned.

    Which raises another issue I hear a lot — that homosexuals are born “that way” so should not be held to account. Nonsense. I was born an alcoholic. I inherited it from my father. It killed him. But with God’s help I stopped drinking 22 years ago.

    In fact we are all born to sin. Our whole species is fallen and drowning in sin. That is the whole point of the Bible. The question is what do we do with that? We are unable to fix ourselves and that is why we need Christ. Read again the quote from John above.

  5. Greg, I guess I get a little tired of seeing folks proof text a particular translation of the Bible as if that settles something. For those like me who take a lot of guidance from the Westminster Confession as to its statements on what the Bible is and how we are to approach understanding it, your argument can easily be seen as a non starter.

    • You’ll have to be a little more specific. I also abide by the Westminster Confession, but how does it undermine the argument? If the ESV is a poor translation, does the KJV say otherwise?

      • What does the Westminster say about the KJV? Nothing specifically. I’ll just point you to the first chapter of Westminster and let you answer your question for yourself. Study the variety of translations and interpretations that have arisen throughout the ages, in a variety of languages, for the passages you cited. Maybe then you’ll understand why so many of us have decided to move toward a more grace filled, tolerant, and accepting position.

      • Sorry, I don’t buy it. The Westminster Confession says nothing of the kind.

        It says scripture has been provided by God, “for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world….” It also says “those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.” So Scripture is all we have to go by. It goes on to say that this is it – “unto which nothing at any time is to be added.”

        And it says we can understand it – “yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them”

        Therefore, it wants scripture “to be translated into the language of every people unto which they come.”

        Now, if you are arguing that the Greek word that has been translated to mean “homosexual” really means something else, I would love to hear about it. Until then, I think I will rely on the scholars who have worked diligently to translate it accurately.

        Meanwhile, you might want to mediate on the “corruption of the flesh” line.

      • Well, how would we define corruptions of the flesh, in addition to homosexuality?
        What about sex between 2 consenting opposite sex adults who are not married?
        What about sex between a husband and wife, when she is past child bearing age, every day, because the man “needs” it for his anxiety, and the wife is fristrated because she is comfortable having sexual relations only once a week?
        If we are looking at banning pastors due to flesh corruption, there are a lot of ways to commit this sin.
        Shalom,
        Don Levit

  6. Greg,
    I didn’t say the Westminster Confession said anything, so there was nothing for you to buy into other than what the Confession actually says. I merely pointed out that the Bible passages you cited have been translated differently at different times and in different languages, and I suggested that you ought to investigate that for yourself. Once you do that, you might relate what you find back to what the Confession says in Chapter 1 concerning what is necessary for salvation. Now, as to what I have learned so far in my own long investigation: It appears to me that lots of people in many ages have been adding to scripture what might seem to make sense to them at the time, or possibly according to their particular agenda, but there is no universal long lived understanding of those particular passages. In addition, there appears to be much less uncertainty in Paul’s statements concerning the leadership role of Women in the Church then there is in the passages you cite, so why do we allow the ordination of Women and want to ban ordination of Homosexuals?

    • Actually, Kattie, you did say the Confession says something. To quote you — “For those like me who take a lot of guidance from the Westminster Confession as to its statements on what the Bible is and how we are to approach understanding it, your argument can easily be seen as a non starter.” I was simply looking for anything that supported your statement. It isn’t there.

      But to say that sometime, somewhere, someone translated these passages as meaning something else, and this is somehow more authoritative than our translation is — well — hokum. If you have an other analysis, I would be eager to hear it.

      • I wouldn’t say Martin Luther’s translation was “hokum”, and I don’t think your combative tone in your second paragraph is helpful. There’s a lot of historical evidence that points to varied understandings. Read what the early Church Fathers had to say. Read the early Church documents and see what they include, and, sometimes more importantly, what they don’t. What I could write here wouldn’t do the subject justice, so if you really want to see what I’m talking about, you are just going to have to do the hard work yourself. In my opinion, that’s the Reformed way. There’s no quick and easy answer. Being too quick to judgment on a subject is no virtue. So take your time and search everywhere taking care to avoid the influences of your own personal biases or the biases of those around you. By the way, I used to argue in favor of the same point of view you seem to take. I’m no longer there.

  7. Kattie,
    I am not familiar with the Westminster Confession and I do not disagree with ordination of women as pastors. I find it difficult to relate the ordination of women with the ordination of a person practicing a homosexual lifestyle.

    From my perspective the scriptures (most translations) are clear on the temptations of the flesh and the call to be in committed relationships between men and women. The scriptures are clear on the purpose and use of sex in those relationships (before, during and after).

    Just as most ordination committees would most likely not ordain a person with an acohol or drug addition that was openly known by the community. Open homosexuality is a public disply of a person not being in control of their sexual priorities and practices.

    That is not to say that a homosexual can not be a member of the church, becuase they can and should be welcomed. We all have our own sins and temptations. It is not a right of man to create a process and cerimony to saction one sin over another sin. I chose to love the sinner and hate the sin.

    As for women leading the church, I believe Mary ordered Christ’s first miracle at the wedding at Cana.

    • Dennis,
      I appreciate your perspective even though I disagree with some of your conclusions.
      I am familiar with the Westminster Confession because, as a Presbyterian Ruling Elder, I am expected, and took a vow, to be guided by our Confessions.
      The point I was trying to make with regard to Women’s Ordination was not that it is particularly related to Homosexual Ordination, but rather that we seem to employ a double standard with regard to our use of the Westminster Confession when we separately consider the two types of Ordination.
      The Westminster Confession effectively instructs us to rely on the clearest Biblical statements to help us to properly understand those statements that are less clear. With regard to the leadership role of Women in the Church, Paul’s statements are both clearly in context and, based upon all of the Bible translations I’ve examined, clear and unmistakably, uniformly understood. It just stands to reason, in the spirit of Biblical Infallibility, that those statements, also in the spirit of Westminster, should be used as a guide to understanding all other statements regarding Women and Church leadership. With regard to Homosexual leadership in the Church, there simply are no statements in the Bible concerning it that have the same strength of context and uniformity of translation and interpretation as those we choose to disregard with respect to Women’s leadership. That’s the double standard.

  8. Kattie, Your statement:
    “With regard to Homosexual leadership in the Church, there simply are no statements in the Bible concerning it that have the same strength of context and uniformity of translation and interpretation as those we choose to disregard with respect to Women’s leadership. That’s the double standard.”

    There is nothing true about your statement at all. There are those statements by Paul and others which must be reconciled with those which seemingly prevent the ordination of women. And it can be done. Scripture informs Scripture where passages are seemingly contradictory.

    On the other hand one would have to biblically prove that homosexuality is not a sin which is not stated any where in Scripture—on the contrary everywhere it is mentioned it is a sin. There is no Scripture that suggests that one could ordain an unrepentant sinner.

    I am certain that you will come back and counter what I have said or twist it just slightly so as to send it down a different path. I do not have time for a running battle with you. So whatever, I will hold my peace.

    • Viola,
      I have no desire to correspond with someone who would write to me in the manner you just did. Instead, I’ll pray for you.

      • Sorry Kattie that was a bit pushy. But really I don’t have time for debate=so say what you will.

  9. I am not sure where we are in this discussion and I appologise that I am not a regular blogger.

    Don, I think it is possible for a married couple to struggle with their sexual self-control. Marriage is not a pass on temptations of the flesh.

    As far as in the closet vs out of the closet. There is an additional ego involvement and public message when I am openly sinnig and not seeing it as a sin. This is not unique to homosexuality.

    Life is a question of reality and my perspection of reality. I agree that when we are in relationship with other professed believers we are granted an additional authority or permission to discuss the two books God has given us to observe.

    The Book of Nature and the The Bible must be consistent if they are both to be considered truth. When my view of either book is out of alignment, my fellow believers can help correct my view. When our collective views come into alignment, we all feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Peace of God that cannot be understood.

    Thank you for allowing me to contribute.

  10. I think this discussion has gone about as far as it can for now. Thanks to everyone for participating. There is plenty of food for thought (and prayer) here.

    Greg

    • Greg, Jodie brought up a point that you didn’t end up answering after you conceded that gluttony is indeed a sin.
      What about fat pastors? They “get the wink”, and I can understand how those with a naturally homosexual inclination might feel singled out – that their sin is a specially intolerable one – and therefore either leave the church or fight back.
      If we won’t hold the unrepentant glutton to account, how can we be so strident against gays? The hypocrisy is galling to many.
      And if we do bar the obese from serving as pastors, just how “pure” must our leaders be, and how far out of line may they step before we pounce on them?
      It’s a tough call, but recognizing that we all sin (and that many of us won’t even admit that we’re sinning!) can go a long way in healing the breach between the mainstream and those who have felt left out in the cold.
      Please don’t get me wrong: I left my beloved Episcopal Church over this very issue, and I strongly feel that any gay priest must be a *celibate* gay priest or else step down just as a married one must be faithful to his wife or else step down.
      But just how stern must we be with our leaders?

      • I didn’t reply to the fat pastors comment because it is silly and I didn’t want to embarrass Jodie. Obesity doesn’t have much to do with gluttony. It is often a medical condition caused by the thyroid and often the result of consuming more calories than are burned over a long period of time.

        As far as I know no one is telling homosexuals to leave the church. In fact, the church is the perfect place for sinners of all stripes. Part of what repels non-believers from the Christian church is that it is so loaded down with broken people. Like in Alcoholics Anonymous many of us will not admit our need for God until we have reached our bottoms. Until then we keep fooling ourselves that we are the masters of our fate.

      • Greg and Philip

        Obviously I put it that way to illustrate how the requirements for ordination, as spelled out in the old G.0106b, were silly and absurd. They had to go.

        The new requirement does not endorse sin. It just avoids having to argue, in the context of ordination, about the definition of sin and repentance and what kind of human behavior actually falls in either category.

        It should be really clear by now that mixing the two topics is toxic to the Church.

        Jodie

  11. (As a physician, I have to set you right about obesity: it is only rarely secondary to a medical condition. It is nearly always from overindulgence, inactivity and sleep deprivation. Many, *many* obese patients come to me hoping that I’ll find a “cause” for their weight that doesn’t have to do with their own choices. After 21 years I’ve found maybe 3 cases of disease-induced overweight, and none of these were morbidly obese. The good old sin of gluttony is rampant in American society and in our churches, yet we will seldom hear a sermon on it. It “gets the wink” and wreaks its jolly havoc unimpeded by the Church)

    Many homosexuals somehow get the message that they aren’t welcome. I wish we could somehow get it out that we love them and want them in our fellowship without also broadcasting the message that active homosexuality isn’t really a sin after all.

  12. When it comes to obesity, I have to agree with Philip. It is caused by eating more calories than one needs. It does not generally become a health issue until the BMI is over 30, but self-control is the key to staying trim.

    Eating is a pleasant pastime, and it takes self-control to eat less. People eat too much when they are nervous, and so many social events revolve around food. So there is a difference between a loss of self control and engaging in an activity that is forbidden in Scripture.

    Since eating is not a sin, per se, I do not think it falls into the same category as homosexuality, adultery, fornication or any other sexual sin.

    That said, we are all fallen creatures, and whether we suffer from pride, a sharp tongue, lack of charity, disinterest in the well-being of others or any other lack of demonstration of godly character– it should all be a reminder of our need for the grace of God– daily. Instead of pointing fingers, we ought to “stimulate one another toward love and good works.”

    The Bible is clear. Those who would be leaders must be of exemplary character, and overt sexual sin should not be tolerated if one is to aspire to being a leader and a role model.

    • Dr Eck,

      Having sex, per se, is not a sin either.

      But again, the old standards for ordination did not allow the distinction between sins that you are making. A unrepentant glutton was as equally disqualified from ordination as an unrepentant child molester.

      With the new rendition, we don’t have to fire our deacons and elders and pastors every time we discover they are not repentant of a particular self-acknowledged practice that the confessions call sin. And we are free to ask again what behaviors are sin and what behaviors come with repentance. For example, are sins personal only, or can they be corporate? What is gluttony? What if the entire American Way of Life falls under the category of gluttony?

      We are free again to ask these questions without automatically becoming hypocrites or perpetuating our name-calling traditions.

      I think that’s a good thing.

      Jodie


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