“Biblical Sexuality: The Challenge of the Peace, Unity, & Purity of the Church”
Readings: 1 Kings 11:26-40; 1 Corinthians 3:1-15; John 13:1-17, 34-35
A man fell overboard from a cruise ship, in the middle of a storm, and he found himself alone, on a deserted tropical island in the Pacific. The good luck was that he was very handy and resourceful. And even luckier, he found the remains of an old military camp and some hand tools.
He showed them a building, with a steeple and a cross on top, and he said, “And here is my church.” One member of the rescue party pointed to another building with a steeple and a cross. What is that, over there? And the man said, “Oh, that’s the church I used to go to.”
The current standard of the Presbyterian Church USA, related to sexuality and marriage and leadership, is as follows: “Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” (Book of Order, G-6.0106 b.)
There has been a change proposed that would eliminate this standard.
The presbyteries of the church are voting on this change. Our own presbytery, the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, has voted against change in order to support the present standard. The vote was 76 to 44 to leave the standard unchanged. So far 92 out of 173 presbyteries have voted, and the vote to keep the present standard stands at 56 to 36 presbyteries.
To me, this separation is wrong and unbiblical. In the New Testament, it is not strange to find doctrinal error in the church. It is not strange to find a mixture of moral integrity and the condoning of immorality. Where there is such a mixture the apostles never tell the people who are right to leave. John, in one of his letters, observes that the way you can tell someone is teaching what is false is that they inevitably split off, and go their separate ways. (1 John 2:19)
They said, in any number of ways, that they did not separate from the Church of Rome, but that Rome separated itself from them. After all, Luther and Calvin didn’t try to kill the Pope. But the Popes used their power to try to destroy them.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes that teachers and leaders in the church can build on the one foundation of Jesus Christ with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw. (1 Corinthians 3: 11-15) This means that, in the family of God, in the church, the body of Christ, we can teach and do good things, and we can do junk and garbage.
Since God did not disdain to teach me, and discipline me, and sufficiently humiliate me, and abundantly bless me in the setting where he did, I will not disdain it either. And I will not turn my back on it: and neither should you.
Some extra notes, used and unused:
The Bible teaches us the discipline of the oneness of the people of God.
Physical division is not an expression of love. Members of a family who get up and leave the room in disagreement may make a bigger gap than members of a family who are united but go to live at opposite sides of the earth.
Love is expressed in faithful persistence and not in withdrawal. (Example: my mom’s role in her family)
Love is expressed in faithfulness, even to the unfaithful. Jesus washed Judas’ feet.