Thursday, September 08, 2016

Homosexual ordinands

I'm going to comment on this:

Would you allow me to begin with a question? You say that the mere presence of same-sex attraction is itself sinful, and because of this we have no business inviting someone who experiences same-sex attraction to speak to our community. Friend, do you believe that there is a difference between temptation and sin? At Gethsemane, Jesus had desires that were contrary to the Father’s will — and so he prayed, “Father, take this cup from me.” Father, do I have to die for your will to be accomplished? Papa, I don’t WANT to die. Your will is HARD, it goes against my feelings. It is because of Jesus’ courageous, “Not my will, but yours be done” that we can say that he was tempted and yet without sin, yes? Can we not say the same about Stephen’s experience with same-sex attraction — that it is temptation for him, temptation which he has faithfully surrendered to the Father’s will?
Let’s say that there are two alcoholics who have been sober for ten years. The first, miraculously, no longer craves alcohol. The second, on the other hand, still battles hard against cravings every single day. Does the presence of cravings for the latter make him less faithful than the former? Some would argue, Friend, that he actually might be more faithful in his sobriety because for him, sobriety is a daily fight against the flesh — a fight that he keeps on, by the grace of God, winning.
If we would not condemn the alcoholic for having cravings, why would we condemn someone who experiences same-sex attraction? In the end, how are the two any different? Would we celebrate the sober alcoholic’s story as victory but not do the same with the sexually chaste man experiencing same-sex attraction? If Stephen is welcomed into our church’s seminary and has faithfully served as staff for our church’s campus ministry, do you really feel that it is a right, good, excellent, pleasing, and praiseworthy thing in the eyes of Jesus to take us to task on social media and in blogs because we have given him (and the many in our churches whom he represents) a voice? 
http://scottsauls.com/2016/09/06/open-letter-to-a-public-critic/

The issue at hand centers on the actions of the pastor of a large and influential PCA church who decided to promote pro-homosexual ideology from the pulpit through a morally compromised young man seeking ordination as a teaching elder (TE, minister) in the PCA. This young man not only claims to be homosexually-attracted to men but is very firm in his unrepentant attitude regarding that attraction. His struggle is not with homosexual attraction itself. He embraces it. However, to be obedient to God as a homosexually-attracted man, he claims to remain celibate. The pastor and the Presbytery all agree that homosexual lusts and behaviors are sinful. However, they also agree that homosexual attractions (desires, thoughts and feelings) are not sinful. When the ministerial candidate was asked if he believes “his homosexual feelings, attractions, thoughts and desires are sinful,” he believes they are not and further upholds that homosexual attractions and God-given heterosexual attractions are morally equivalent:

“I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.”
These are the pastor’s exact words from the pulpit:

“He (Jesus) says some have been made eunuchs or some have been made celibate from birth. They were born to be celibate, born this way. And this could be through a physical disability of some sort, or it could be through an orientation. That if given into would represent infidelity to the gospel. And so with this orientation, assuming it doesn’t go away, the call to faithfulness is the call to chastity and to celibacy. Because you were this way from birth Jesus said. Celibate from birth the way you were made.You remember when, when, when the Pharisees were asking why is the man who was born blind, why was he born this way. You know, who sinned, the Pharisees said, “Who did something wrong that he was born this way; was it him or was it his parents?” And Jesus said, “Nobody did anything wrong. It wasn’t his parents, it wasn’t him. He wasn’t born this way because there’s something wrong with him. He was born this way so that through his affliction, through his minority position as a blind person, God can be glorified.”
http://theaquilareport.com/what-do-you-think/

My operating assumption is that the Aquila article is accurate. I notice that Scott Sauls didn't challenge the factual accuracy of the article. The reply of Scott Sauls is unresponsive to some key issues raised in the article. 

1. According to Rom 1, homosexual desires as well as homosexual activities are sinful. It speaks not merely of "shameful acts," but the "dishonorable passions" that motivate the dishonorable acts. 

2. Even if we didn't have a passage of Scripture (e.g. Rom 1) that's specifically addressed to this particular issue (i.e. homosexual attraction), it's a general truth that sinful actions often act out or act on sinful motives. For instance, murder is, in the first instance, sinful because the attitude is sinful. 

That, of itself, doesn't disqualify a person from church office. But we need to correct a false premise in this debate. Insofar as the ordination of homosexuals is justified by dichotomizing sinless feelings from sinful actions, that's a false dichotomy. And that invalidates a justification predicated on that false dichotomy.

3. Jesus didn't say homosexuals are born that way. Moreover, to be born a eunuch has reference to genital deformities, not "orientation". See Nolland's commentary on Matthew. It is illicit for Scott Sauls to prooftext his position from Mt 19. 

Likewise, the attempted analogy from Jn 9 begs the question. We have no evidence that Jesus thought homosexual attraction is genetic. Even if, for the sake of argument, Jesus did think homosexual attraction is genetic, we can't read his mind. Since he never said that, we have no way to determine if that's what he thought. It is therefore illicit to invoke the authority of Christ when there's no evidence to believe he'd affirm the analogy. 

4. Notice how Scott Sauls smuggles in the blind man's "minority position" to create a parallel with homosexual minorities. But that's entirely extraneous to Jn 9. Jesus says nothing about the blind man's minority position. The narrator says nothing about the blind man's minority position. That intrudes an extrinsic consideration into the text. 

5. It's quite possible for someone to have a disqualifying impediment through no fault of their own. For instance, if I was born with defective vision, that disqualifies me from becoming a fighter pilot. Or suppose I contract AIDS from infected blood during surgery. That disqualifies me from becoming a blood donor. So even if, for the sake of argument, we say that homosexual attraction is innocent, it could still be an impediment to church office. 

6. Church office is not a human right or entitlement. It's not as if "gay Christians" have an inalienable right to be ordained to church office. 

7. The comparison with a recovering alcoholic is problematic on two grounds:

i) A desire for alcohol isn't sinful. So the attempted analogy is disanalogous in that respect.

ii) Moreover, the comparison backfires. Would it be prudent for a recovering alcoholic to be a bartender? Should he work in a liquor store?

By the same token, is it prudent to put a "gay Christian" in tempting situations where he has access to young people, in a position of authority over young people? 

We've seen this movie before. It doesn't have a happy ending. We've seen what happened in the church of Rome when homosexual priests sworn to celibacy are put in that position.

8. In addition, we've also seen an incremental strategy in play where "celibate gay Christians" serve as a wedge tactic. Once that's acceptable, once they have that foot in the door, the next step is "faithful, covenanted" homosexual relationships. The complaint is how unfair it is for straight Christians to have the emotional and sexual fulfillment of marriage and kids, but deny that to "gay Christians". How hypocritical! 

That's the "noble lie": you break down resistance through a softening-up exercise. You intend all along to normalize homosexuality within the church, but that's not where you start.

I'm not accusing Stephen Moss of that. Maybe he's sincere. But I'm discussing this from a policy perspective and not isolated individuals. Once you have the momentum of a policy shift, there's a preexisting homosexual lobby that will take advantage of that policy shift. 

9 comments:

  1. Steve, I agree 100% with this post! Excellent.
    The one thing I would add is that the person born blind is physically disabled, but not necessarily morally impaired. If a person was born with a homosexual inclination or innate preference for a same sex partner, that would not be equivalent to a physical impairment, but rather it would be owing to depravity and the sin nature. It is dishonest for Moss and Sauls and others to make blindness equivalent to a homosexual proclivity on this basis.
    Thanks!

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  2. Good post. Thanks for that. Also, the spirit of incremental-strategy iniquity is well at work here. Appreciate the observation.

    I find it telling that two posts of mine that I believe clarified and possibly exposed some things were not published at Scott's site. But this isn't about me or that. No personal axe to grind.

    I too am operating under an assumption that Dominic's quotes are accurate. If so, I find Scott utterly disingenuous, frankly.

    Scott: "Can we not say the same about Stephen’s experience with same-sex attraction — that it is temptation for him, temptation which he has faithfully surrendered to the Father’s will?"

    How does Scott know this? How does he know Stephen has faithfully surrendered (and, therefore, God apparently has refused to answer such a faithful prayer)?

    Also, why should Stephen even surrender given the following?

    “I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.”

    It's no wonder God isn't answering a prayer for deliverance that's at best shrouded in such double mindedness.

    Scott wrote: "Stephen, who is saying “No” to his flesh, and for the sake of Jesus — how courageous! How bold!"

    This too makes no sense to me. By Scott's calculations this particular "flesh" attraction is not sinful, or does he disagree with Stephen on that point?

    It makes no sense to say "No" to a desire that Stephen himself finds acceptable before God. Ah, but Scott and Stephen are willing to admit that behavior proceeding from such attraction would be reprehensible and, therefore, should be restrained. That's why guys like this find themselves in an obvious dilemma, but that's only because they appear to be more like pious legalists with an agenda than humble saints looking to pursue and promote peaceable, personal holiness. Do I detect a form of godliness regarding external behavior while denying any need for God's power to eradicate propelling, internal propensities? But after all, there's no need for Him to, right? We've already heard the liberal eunuch from birth argument. So, let's all say "Why does He still find fault? For who can withstand His will?" and just call it a day.

    Scott doesn't seem open to biblical instruction. Period. Consequently, Scott's ministry is as impotent as we might hope those he might minister in this area might become lest they cause more problems like the priests that have been referenced here. Yes, we have seen this movie before.

    I'd prefer guys like this just leave the ministry and open up a bagel shop in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

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  3. //The issue at hand centers on the actions of the pastor of a large and influential PCA church who decided to promote pro-homosexual ideology from the pulpit through a morally compromised young man seeking ordination as a teaching elder (TE, minister) in the PCA. This young man not only claims to be homosexually-attracted to men but is very firm in his unrepentant attitude regarding that attraction. His struggle is not with homosexual attraction itself. He embraces it. However, to be obedient to God as a homosexually-attracted man, he claims to remain celibate.//

    Two things here.

    I think you want to, correctly, posit that some desires are born out of our sinful nature and are different from a desire that is abused or later twisted. Fine and good.

    But I'm also thinking that you are being less than charitable with this people. His "unrepentant attitude towards this attraction"?

    So as far as I can tell the young man does not want to engage in lust. The distinction I think they are trying to make, which you if you were less hostile might be able to help them, is that the guy is just experiencing these attractions. They spring up. He didn't ask for them. He is fighting them. So I'm pretty sure he's trying to say that the mere experience of the attractions is not sinful.

    They are not saying lust is not sinful. They are not saying these attractions are good.

    My advice to you would be to help them make the proper distinctions about how to understand the desires themselves. And how should a person who experiences these desires understand themselves and their reaction to them with the understanding that they don't want these desires.

    Try that approach.

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  4. But I'm also thinking that you are being less than charitable with this people. His "unrepentant attitude towards this attraction"?

    Geoff,

    Not sure who you were trying to address but please realize you've interacted with a Dominic Aquila quote. Also please realize that Dominic's assessment is justified and not uncharitable if he is basing it on this quote of Stephen's:

    “I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.”

    It's absolutely true that there's an unrepentant attitude. Reason being, Stephen doesn't think his perverted attractions qualify as sin. By Stephen's own admission, there's no sin from which he can repent. Surely though, Stephen does live life with suppressed guilt and a pastor friend who is leading Stephen to spiritual death.

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  5. //
    Not sure who you were trying to address but please realize you've interacted with a Dominic Aquila quote. Also please realize that Dominic's assessment is justified and not uncharitable if he is basing it on this quote of Stephen's:

    “I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.”

    It's absolutely true that there's an unrepentant attitude. Reason being, Stephen doesn't think his perverted attractions qualify as sin. By Stephen's own admission, there's no sin from which he can repent. Surely though, Stephen does live life with suppressed guilt and a pastor friend who is leading Stephen to spiritual death.//

    I'm pretty sure they are trying to say that when desires pop up that isn't an act of sin per se. What I think they are trying to say is that there are desires that occur that they must handle in a godly way, but they aren't sinning by just getting the desires.

    I'm not saying that is accurate or the best way of making a distinction of what's going on with having the desire vs acting upon it. What I am saying is an "unrepenant attitude towards this attraction", combined with insinuating that they are trying to normalize homosexuality within the church, is not charitable.

    You should be less hostile in this case, while still correcting the misunderstanding. Although how would one bear fruit of repentance in this area? Just not get the desire?

    Anyway, I think this can be handled with a lot less hostility.

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  6. I find my demeanor most appropriate given the gravity of the deception that's going on. These are wolves leading people toward a lifestyle that wild beasts of the field know not.

    I've spoken at a sodimite funeral. I can still see the Romanist homosexual priest watching on as I gave the gospel. I consoled the baptist mother and the man's sister. They knew my compassion for homosexuals as I visited their loved one with the gospel when he was down to about seventy pounds. There were no cocktails then to prologue life. I befriended another and was part of his censure and restoration. He doesn't think like Scott and Stephen. No, he owned his sin and he's heaven bound because of it. He hates this agenda, rightfully so.

    I say none of that to vindicate my temperament. No. I'll let it be judged on its own merits. My only point is to give you some insight and appreciation that this is not theoretical for me. I'm pretty in tune with this battle the church is losing. My issue isn't with some confused kid, but the teachers of Israel who have crept into the pastorate.

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  7. //I find my demeanor most appropriate given the gravity of the deception that's going on. These are wolves leading people toward a lifestyle that wild beasts of the field know not. //

    And this is the crux of your problem as I see it. You are so busy fighting the last war that you are shooting at people who actually are committed to not having lust or acting on lust. Does that sound like someone who is a wolf trying to infect the church for a homosexual agenda? Are you listening to yourself?

    There seems to be confusion on the nature of just getting the attraction itself. That's it. That's the crux of the issue. Is merely encountering the attraction sin? That's the disagreement. You're in agreement that acting on or embracing the attraction is sin.

    I think that could have actually have been a good conversation that would have shed some light.

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  8. First, you're wrongly accusing me of arguing against a position you think is not theirs. Secondly, Scott is so militant he wouldn't publish two posts of mine that teased out the essence of the issue. Really, does that sound like someone who is open to learn, or wants his readers educated? (Those posts you've read in another thread on this site.) Lastly, nobody needs to persuade these guys they're lying and in sin. They know it by nature and are confirmed by Sripture. I'm sorry but you're simply naive and gullible if you think otherwise. (I'm not engaging in name calling do please don't take it that way.) Try discussing this matter with likes of Stephen and Scott. See how far you get. Once you try applying your "come and let us reason" approach you might begin to recognize the little devils you're defending. Until such time, I'm happy to leave you to your untested theories and imaginations. We are simply too far apart on the issue. Best in your pursuits.

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