As I’m sure most readers know, on May 10, 2011, the PCUSA presbytery of the Twin Cities in Minnesota voted to allow the their 173 presbyteries to ordain clergy without regard to sexual orientation. (Albert Mohler has a helpful summary, as usual.)
I missed this when it happened last year at the 2010 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), where gay marriage and gay-clergy ordination were being discussed. Terry Mattingly sets the stage:
Without a doubt, the most boring parts of these events — yes, even more boring than the business sessions — are the ultra-polite addresses delivered by special guests from the outside. These are often called “greetings” and they may be delivered by local civic leaders (“Thank you for eating lots of meals in our downtown restaurants”) or by local, national or international religious dignitaries. . . . Normally, when journalists see the word “greetings” in a convention schedule, they know that it’s safe to step out and get a cup of coffee or some other legal stimulant (the nature of which depends on the denomination one is covering).
But after delivering some pleasantries, the Reverend Siarhei Hardun, an Orthodox arch-priest from Belarus, used his short time as an ecumenical greeter to express his dismay at the way the PCUSA was seeking to reinvent morality. It is surely regrettable that they did not heed this prophetic analysis and warning:
Worth reading in this connection is S. Donald Fortson III’s “The Road to Gay Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),” by Professor S. Donald Fortson III, a church historian at RTS—Charlotte. An excerpt on the unanimity of the church’s tradition on sexual ethics:
Church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity. . . .
Christianity is a tradition; it is a faith with a particular ethos, set of beliefs and practices handed on from generation to generation. The Christian tradition may be understood as the history of what God’s people have believed and how they have lived based upon the Word of God. This tradition is not only a collection of accepted doctrines but also a set of lifestyle expectations for a follower of Christ. One of the primary things handed down in the Christian church over the centuries is a consistent set of lifestyle ethics including specific directives about sexual behavior. The church of every generation from the time of the apostles has condemned sexual sin as unbecoming a disciple of Christ. At no point have any orthodox Christian teachers ever suggested that one’s sexual practices may deviate from biblical standards.
Concerning homosexuality there has been absolute unanimity in church history; sexual intimacy between persons of the same gender has never been recognized as legitimate behavior for a Christian. One finds no examples of orthodox teachers who suggested that homosexual activity could be acceptable in God’s sight under any circumstances. Revisionist biblical interpretations that purport to support homosexual practice are typically rooted in novel hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture, which produce bizarre interpretations of the Bible held nowhere, never, by no one.
HT: Jordan Ballor