Posts Tagged With: homosexuality

Sinless Concupiscence?

Pelagius2Richard D. Phillips states in his interesting update following the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly: “At the heart of our division on this subject is whether or not to define same-sex attraction (SSA) as a morally neutral status that does not require repentance. PCA progressives seem to have asserted such a sub-category beneath sinful desire (essentially adopting the pre-Reformation concept of concupiscence).”

I’m trying really hard, but I can’t for the life of me think of a definition of concupiscence that anyone in the Reformed or Presbyterian tradition would not consider to be sin.  According to Reformed (and even Catholic) doctrine, Original Sin is sin.  (Concupiscence, too.)  Any Presbyterian should understand that given the clarity of our confessional standards on the subject:

Westminster confession of Faith (1646), IV. Of the Fall of Man, Sin, and the Punishment Thereof

v. This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

But maybe those Westminster divines were suffering from Puritan Brain Syndrome.  Lest we think a contrary view that original sin and/or concupiscence are not in themselves sin, has a place in Reformed doctrine, let us see how soundly other Reformed Confessions proclaim that original sin is sin:

French Confession of Faith (1559)

XI. We believe, also, that this evil [original sin] is truly sin, sufficient for the condemnation of the whole human race, even of little children in the mother’s womb, and that God considers it as such; even after baptism it is still of the nature of sin,

39 Articles (1572), Article IX, Of Original or Birth Sin

And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized: yet the Apostle doth confess that con­cupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.

Belgic Confession, (1619), Article 15, Of the Doctrine of Original Sin

[Original Sin] is therefore so vile and enormous in God’s sight that it is enough to condemn the human race

Phillips mentions pre-reformation sources.  What would Aquinas say on the subject of whether concupiscence toward sodomy is sin?

Aquinas, Summa Theologica, “Whether Original sin is concupiscence?”

Augustine says (Retract. i, 15): “Concupiscence is the guilt of original sin.” (Aquinas, Objection)

Aquinas: Reply to Objection 1, …so far as it trespasses beyond the bounds of reason, it is, for a man, contrary to reason. Such is the concupiscence of original sin.

Reply to Objection 2 …Therefore original sin is ascribed to concupiscence, as being the chief passion, and as including all the others, in a fashion.

Reply to Objection 3 …for [concupiscence] clouds and draws the reason, as stated above. Hence original sin is called concupiscence

Some appetite (Aquinas), inclination or proclivity toward sin, lying below the level of desire, must be characterized as sin.  On first reaction, one wonders if PCA progressives are raising Pelagius from the grave. But on second thought, even Pelagius would have considered an inclination or proclivity to desire to commit sodomy to be sin (by imitation not by nature.)  Does anyone in the PCA believe in sin?

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A reason for optimism about the future state of the Church

The winds of cultural change have amassed to a very hostile wind that seems to blow against the Church of Jesus Christ. She may very well shrink in numbers and in wealth over the coming decades, as the social cost of being a Christian rises, and there may come a point when she is taxed on donations and offerings. But make no mistake, there is plenty of reason for optimism. The trend of individual sexual self-determination, an anything goes “ethic” where people define themselves as their sinful flesh leads them to, will hurt a lot of people. They will be shackled to the ball and chain of their own lusts until they long for the liberty that is in Christ. Then we will be there to show them a better way. The sexual ethic of Christianity, which is now a justification for the world’s ire against us, will be the oasis of truth and light that beckons weary and wounded sinners from afar, showing that humans do indeed have value and dignity, and are not meant to be mere slaves to perverse sexual pleasures. The hypocrites and nominal Christians will be long gone by then, and new wheat will spring up to take their places, and then some.  Then, as in the Roman Empire of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries A. D., many souls will be won to Christ because of and not in spite of the 7th commandment standard and the undefiled institution of holy matrimony. Like a dip in stock price that allows an investor to buy more shares more cheaply before the price rises again, this seeming ebb in the influence of the Church of Christ will turn into a tremendous gain of new converts to Christ not so very far down the road, as souls created by God are made new by the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the law and gospel, showing them that they do not have to be slaves to sin any longer, and offering them the glorious liberty of the children of God.

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Choices for Lutherans

elcaWith the election of its first openly homosexual bishop, Rev. R. Guy Erwin, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), this country’s largest Lutheran denomination, has made clear once and for all, if there had been any doubt, that it is going to follow the tide of contemporary culture rather than following anything like what has historically resembled Christianity.  In this act, it has proclaimed love toward that behavior which in the Holy Bible is termed an abomination to the Lord. 

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination:

Leviticus 20:13a

We are come a long way from Luther!  And, sadly, but no less truly, this stage has only arrived after a long march driven not by a reverence for the gospel of Christ as revealed in Scripture, but by liberal theology and progressive social activism.  It has not just begun.  The ELCA has been on a long ride beginning with questioning the authority of Holy Scripture, and a failure to maintain the biblical qualifications for ordained ministry; and the Lutherans are not alone.  They have been preceded in their embrace of homosexual conduct by the United Church of Christ, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA, and the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Without a doubt there are Lutherans who have not consented to the ride.  I am acquainted with ELCA members who are vibrant and sincere brothers and sisters in Christ.  Those who fall into this category, that is, the remnant of true Christians left in the ELCA, must find themselves in a dilemma.  They have not brought this upon themselves, but the devilish inroads of evil have taken over the machinery of the church that they have known and loved, which they have called home, slowly but surely, until now, they are here.  What is a Christian who is a member of an ELCA congregation to do?  There are a few possible responses.

1.  Do nothing.

Be content to continue in your present congregation, with its present affiliation in the ELCA.  Many make the assumption that what happens in other synods or regions will not affect them.  They are satisfied with their congregation, in their neighborhood.  Those in rural areas tend to believe that they are isolated from what goes on “in the city.”  But is this really the case?  Are you willing to give your hard-earned cash to pay dues, to support the homosexual ideology through the ELCA seminaries, special scholarships for homosexuals studying for the ministry, pensions and salaries for church executives and other clergypersons engaging in an open (flagrant) homosexual lifestyle?  We would do well to consider the words of Revelation 18:4 “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”  Is it possible to be a contributor to such things and not partake of the guilt of the sins, and of God’s punishment of them who are committed to war against God and His word, and yet to remain personally unstained?

2.  But,  “I want to stay and fight.”

But what is the Church of Jesus Christ?   Is the Church itself a mission field or a mission station?  The question of when to separate has been a difficult one down through history, and sound Christian leaders have chosen to separate at different times, not always agreeing on when was the time to leave.  Yet, how can one remain in a fellowship or denomination which is essentially anti-Christian, and which forces the faithful to pay to promote what are abominations?  To take part with them is to be a partaker with them, is to partake in their guilt.

Ephesians 5:6, 7 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

And where will your congregation find pastors in the future?  Of what persuasion (or lifestyle) will they be?  If the history of other churches is any indication, it will soon be virtually impossible to find, or to get an ELCA synod to approve of, a pastor who believes that the Bible is the word of God and that sin is defined as God says it is.  Sadly, local congregations are not as isolated from the happenings in the broader denomination as they would like to believe.

And, let’s be honest, as far as working to reverse the course by being a voice for truth in the ELCA wilderness, at this point it would probably be easier and  more productive to repeatedly pound your head against a brick wall than to try and change the ELCA back to recognizing the authority of Scripture.

3. Working in your congregation to separate from the ELCA.

There are Lutheran denominations which still adhere to the inerrancy of Scripture and maintain a distinctly and historically Christian faith, such as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LMCS).  There may be some ELCA congregations which have come to a point where they no longer hold to historic Lutheranism, and they may decide for various reasons that another strand of fellowship, another form of Christian unity with slightly different, yet essentially Christian standards of faith is to be preferred.

Martin+Luther+martinluther

I would encourage either avenue.  In fact, a Christian finding himself in the situation of being a part of an ELCA congregation probably ought to pursue the road of separation as a congregation first, if possible, to maintain the unity of the local body if the majority of the congregation are genuine Christians, and they can be persuaded to separate from the ELCA.  Although property and other legal or monetary issues may arise, these things are a small price to pay for the liberty to worship God in Spirit and in Truth, with a clear conscience.  As the Great Reformer Luther wrote in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also…”  Alas, for many true believers within the fold of the ELCA, separation of the congregation from the ELCA will prove not to be an option simply because not enough voting members of the congregation will support it.  So that brings us to the final choice.


4. Leave and join another congregation.

The solution of last resort is not far for many in the present situation.  The final, and a painful option, for many, would be to leave the present ELCA congregation, and find another church, whether Lutheran or otherwise, where the gospel is clearly preached and the Bible is considered to be the definitive Word of God in written form.  If you are a Lutheran, ask yourself, is it the right time?  If not now, when?  What would have to happen for it to be the right time to separate from an ELCA congregation?  What sins would it involve?

What would I do, if I were a member of an ELCA congregation today?  If I were intent on remaining a Lutheran, holding to the distinctive Lutheran expression of Christianity including its form of worship and confessional statements, (which I do not), I would attempt to do number 3.  If that didn’t work, I would follow approach number 4 and join a different congregation.  If I were not dead set on remaining a Lutheran, I would simply follow number 4.  May God bless the Lutheran reader and may each be thoroughly convinced in his or her own mind that he or she is taking the right course of action.

crossroadsPlease, brothers and sisters, if you are a member of a congregation of the ELCA, immerse yourself in God’s word, reading it daily, and seek His help and direction there.  I hope that what I have written may be of help to some as they think through these crucial issues.

Categories: Current Events, History, Pastoral, The Church, The Ministry | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Why Same-Sex Marriage Is Impossible

Yesterday, for the first time in history, the President of the United States gave a personal opinion of his that people living in a homosexual lifestyle ought to be able to marry persons of the same sex. I found myself turning the TV off, to prevent my kids from hearing what he said.  (That was the first time I can say I felt the need to turn off the President to protect my kids’ ears.)  But the President is not alone. This view is gaining popularity in America. We would be blind to say it is not. The reasons that are most often given are many. Some see it as a civil rights issue, the equivalent of the change of old laws against interracial marriage from a few generations ago, when a longstanding injustice was overturned. Since “gay” men and “lesbian” women should have equal rights, it hardly seems equal to allow others to marry while they can’t, some will argue. Those who oppose changes to law to allow for such unions are accused of wanting to impose their values on others, or worse, labeled bigots or “haters”. I’m convinced that the mounting confusion has much to do with a misunderstanding of the complementary nature of men and women as God created them, right before instituting marriage.

Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

God expresses in this passage that there was something incomplete in the life of the man, Adam, on day six of creation week.  He says it was “not good” than man should be alone.  These words indicate not that there was some mistake or imperfection in God’s creation of Adam, but that he had not yet finished the other half of what He had planned for the human race: woman.  God says that woman is to be created as a “helper suitable for him.” (NASB) In these words is expressed the complementary nature of man and woman.  Man and woman are in many ways alike.  We learn in Genesis chapter 1 that both were created in God’s image.  There is an essential equality between man and woman in worth, in their being composed of a body and an immortal soul, and in their reflection of God’s character in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.  Yet they are not exactly the same.  They complement or complete one another in many ways: physical, mental, social, etc.  Equality does not imply that there is no difference between men and women.  Since the 1970’s, the feminist movement has sought to downplay or deny the differences and erase the distinctions between men and women by teaching that women ought to have exactly the same role as men in all spheres of human life.  In part, this was an understandable reaction to a long history of abuse by men of women.  But at its root, it denies the basic distinction that woman was created to be a “helper” to man and to complete was lacking, not to be a carbon copy! 

In this passage we find the root of the complementary nature of men and women.  The male and female sexes are created to match and supply one another’s weaknesses, where each other sex is lacking, in other words, to complement one another.  The obvious physical differences of men and women complement one another, and this points to deeper differences beyond just the physical.  Together, man and woman are a perfect “fit.”  Other passages of Scripture give more details about the precise relationship of men and women in their roles, as they are to be followed in the church and in the family. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:11-15; Ephesians 5:22-28, Colossians 3:18)

The idea that members of the same sex can “marry” ignores the complementary nature of men and women. Two of the same cannot complement each other. A nut and a bolt are complementary. Two nuts or two bolts are not. Men and women are made to complement one another in many ways, physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally. That is the foundation for marriage as God instituted it. Two men or two women will never be able to marry each other in the true sense of the word. At its root, same sex marriage is impossible because two of the same sex do not complement one another as a man and woman do.

 (Some content of this post was adapted from a Bible study lesson I wrote on Genesis 2.)


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