Statement on Kirk’s Sexuality Debate

Click play below to listen to a superb response to Saturday night’s news from the Kirk’s General Assembly by Dr W J U Philip of St George’s-Tron, Glasgow.

[audio:https://www.peter-ould.net/wp-content/uploads/090524am_assembly_statement.mp3]

Remember, the struggle in Edinburgh is not over yet. Tonight the Kirk debates the following Overture. It’s one last chance for Saturday night’s decision to not be the final word on this matter.

ANENT MINISTERIAL CONDUCT

From the Presbytery of Lochcarron-Skye

Whereas:

1. the Church’s historic understanding of the Biblical teaching on homosexual practice has been questioned in recent years.

2. a lengthy period of reflection has elapsed without a resolution of the issue.

3. it is undesirable that the courts of the church should be asked to judge on individual cases in advance of any such resolution.

It is humbly overtured by the Reverend the Presbytery of Lochcarron-Skye to the Venerable the General Assembly to receive the Overture set out below,

“That this Church shall not accept for training, ordain, admit, re-admit, induct or introduce to any ministry of the Church anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman”.

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19 Comments on “Statement on Kirk’s Sexuality Debate

  1. Well the overture was withdrawn but tonight’s decision is very much a victory for evangelicals. Moratorium indeed.

    • Ekklesia reports that the Kirk,
      ” Avoided a confrontation on sexuality and ministry after a motion from anti-gay hardliners was withdrawn before it could be voted on. ”

      Ekklesia sees the “victory” as being for those who seek compromise and conciliation,

      ” The decision is a significant achievement for those who want reason and conciliation rather than anger and confrontation in the argument over homosexuality.”

      It reports that a nine member commission will be set up to look at the issues. Ekklesia is also of the opinion that,

      “Some who oppose Scott Rennie and the ministry of gay people may face formal complaints about their conduct.”

      (There has been some talk of an embargo on reporting these matters – but Ekklesia has placed these facts and its analysis in the public domain.)

      I cannot see how the decision is a victory for evangelicals?

      • Scott Rennie is not setting a precedent. There is a moratorium on gay people in the ministry (for two years at least)

        • I assume it is a moratorium on the ministry of people who are openly in active homosexual relationships, rather than a moratorium on gay people in the ministry?

          I still don’t quite see how it is “very much a victory” for evangelicals. I can’t see it as a victory for hardline evangelicals anymore than it is a victory for liberal activists. It is , as Ekklesia says, an achievement for those who seek a moderate, reasoned response, free from anger and confrontation.

          I suspect that some, on both sides of the argument, will see it as a frustrating stalling device and an attempt to evade the issues.

          • Sue,

            Don’t you love how ekklesia calls them “anti-gay hardliners”. That’s like me calling those who voted in favour of Rennie as “trotskyist liberals”.

            Yes, the moratorium is on those who involved in sexual relationships outside of marriage. The sexuality of a person doesn’t come into it.

        • Evangelicals threatening to withdraw money unless they get what they want sounds pretty hardline to me. Personally I don’t see how the wealth and arrogance of “conservatives” is in any way a convincing theological argumen

  2. Thanks Peter for your link to the superb address by Dr Philip. My God strengthen and bless him and many others in their work for Christian orthodoxy and to keep the gopel alive in the UK.

    As a British Christian living in South Africa, it strikes me that the most important difference between British and African Christianity is the respective strength of biblically based Chrisitian belief.

    The weekend’s events in the Church of Scotland are but one of many such events in Europe and America which reveal that there are increasingly different understandings within the church of a biblical approach to sexuality. My Operation World handbook estimates that although 68% of people in the UK claim to be Christian, only 12% of people claim to be evangelical or charismatic Christians.

    In South Africa a similar 74% of people claim to be Christian while 44% of people claim to be evangelical or charismatic. This is fairly typical of many African countries south of the Sahara: the proportion of Christians that claim biblically based belief is far higher than in Europe. This is reflected amongst both Christians and in the public expression of belief.

    In most African countries indigenous languages have word for ‘saved’ Christians (usually literally translated as ‘the saved people’) separate from the word Christian which is understood to mean ‘church-goer’ or ‘nominal’ Christian. Christian and non-Christian alike have a shared understanding of what both terms mean.

    In the last few months I have been working in Burundi and Rwanda, countries which are both in revival after the intense Hutu/Tutsi conflicts of the last ten years or more. I found it very easy to meet and talk with other believers as in both countries close to 40% of all people are estimated to be evangelicals and charismatics. All were incredulous that European and American churches are at war over homosexuality: for African Christians it is very clear that homosexual practice is a sin. Indeed in Burundi’s new 2005 post-conflict Constitution they have included a clause defining marriage between ‘a natural man and a natural women’.

    In my visits back to the UK I am continually struck by the vast differences between an increasingly morose post-Christian culture in the UK and the confident, expanding, joyful world of African Christianity. I would suggest that the ‘quality’ of the British church has declined, as shown by the low proportion of evangelical and charismatic believers, and Britain is increasingly a country that will need to be re-evangelised from Latin America, African and Asia.

    • >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>In my visits back to the UK I am continually struck by the vast differences between an increasingly morose post-Christian culture in the UK and the confident, expanding, joyful world of African Christianity. I would suggest that the ‘quality’ of the British church has declined, as shown by the low proportion of evangelical and charismatic believers, and Britain is increasingly a country that will need to be re-evangelised from Latin America, African and Asia

      Conversely, I know more than a few evangelicals who are ashamed to be associated with the more extreme rhetoric of Akinola; that is one of the dangers of the Two Gospels/ You’re With Us or Against Us rhetoric that is being used in this debate.

      • Ryan, I agree. I don’t know Nigeria well as I have worked mostly in southern and eastern Africa. I feel however that many of Akinola’s statements have been full of hatred of homosexuals. A more charitable view that takes account of Nigeria’s context would point to the extreme Muslim/Christian competition in the country, and to the tendency of Nigerians to overstate their case (have you ever met a quiet Nigerian?) But I agree with your point

        It seems to me that the main result for the Church of Scotland is now a MkII ‘Listening Process’. I feel that such a dialogue can potentially be fruitful if it is around two main poles: liberals accept dialogue over homosexual practice being sinful, and; evangelicals accept dialogue over the hurt and pain caused by hateful comments and practice a la Akinola.

        I feel however that the Anglican ‘Listening Process’ MKI however has not been very successful in this regard. Most liberals will accept nothing less than full inclusion and, it seems to me, do not see sexual sin as important, a position more in common with the political left than the Bible. Many evangelicals also simply do not understand the hurt and pain caused to gay people by their public comments, eg. the CoS Minister who ended up making a ‘Nazi-slur’ on gay people last week (although I also accept his comment w2as taken out of context, it was unwise).

        And that seems to me to be one of the main points of this site – to increase honest dialogue over difficult issues of what is orthodoxy. So well done Peter!

  3. Evangelicals threatening to withdraw money unless they get what they want sounds pretty hardline to me. Personally I don’t see how the wealth and arrogance of “conservatives” is in any way a convincing theological argument.

  4. Peter+ wrote:

    Remember, the struggle in Edinburgh is not over yet. Tonight the Kirk debates the following Overture. It’s one last chance for Saturday night’s decision to not be the final word on this matter.

    So, what happened?

  5. As one of the ‘liberals’ in the Church of Scotland, please let me correct a misapprehension about our position with respect to the Bible and sexual sin.

    One of the most frustrating things in this debate has been the continued insistance of those opposing Scott Rennie’s appointment that they, and they alone, hold to the authority of Scripture.

    It has been stated – repeatedly, and without justification – that those of us supporting Scott Rennie want to depart from the authority of Scripture and that our basic argument is that ’some parts of the Bible don’t apply to us today’.

    The companion implication is that ‘conservative evangelicals’ see everything in the Bible as applicable to us today.

    Neither statement is true, of course.

    There are many Biblical statements, admonitions, etc that conservative evangelicals do not see as applicable to Christians today – statements to slaves to obey their masters, statements about women covering their hair and it being ’shameful’ for a man to have long hair, much of the Levitical law, etc.

    Conservative evangelicals don’t arbitrarily throw these passages out – there are generally sound contextual reasons for believing that these (and other) Biblical commands were important when the Biblical authors wrote them, but don’t have relevance for us today.

    Those of us supporting Scott Rennie take exactly the same position with respect to the – very few – passages in the Bible which appear to address homosexual acts. I understand that you don’t agree with how we interpret Scripture – but that does not mean that we hold Scripture any less dear than you do.

    It simply means that we interpret it differently.
    This is a reality that, sadly, conservative evangelicals have continually denied, despite repeated clarification from those supporting Scott Rennie. And I wonder why that is?

    2,000 years of Scriptural interpretation and disagreement, as well as the myriad different Christian denominations seen in the world today testify to the fact that Scripture can – and is – interpreted differently in many particulars.

    Are conservative evangelicals really so convinced that their interpretation of Scripture is 100% correct, and that there can be no deviation from it? That appears to be the case – with some Forward Together leaders (including people like Willie Philip) attempting to make one’s interpretation of Romans 1 somehow relevant to one’s salvation.

    Romans 3:23 For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.

    What is our faith to be in? In a particular interpretation of the Bible – one that holds that culturally specific instructions regarding idolatry are binding for all time? This appears to be heresy to me – adding to the Scipture. We are warned severely against that.

    Or is our faith to be in Jesus – in his redeeming life, death and resurrection?

    Romans 13: 9-10
    The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
    Love does no harm to its neighbour.

    This is a consistent principle throughout the teaching of Jesus and into the Pauline epistles. As an evangelical, I can find no way to reconcile this teaching with the way gays and lesbians are treated in the Church.

    We acknowledge that God did not create us to be alone – that we are created to be in relationship, both with God and with others. Yet we tell gays and lesbians that they must always remain on the outside – that they can never form their own family, that they can never have companionship the way we can.

    And, if you listen to people in this position, you can see the clear harm this does in their lives. We are simply ‘clanging cymbals’ when we say the words ‘But we do love and accept you’ while our actions and our expectations say the exact opposite.

    I recognise that you disagree with my interpretation of Scripture. But it is held sincerely and strongly, after much prayer and study, and in the firm belief that I am following my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

    Where we differ, we should not misrepresent the position of those with whom we disagree. Instead, we should continue to speak to one another, prayerfully and lovingly, praying that God would convict and change hearts where they are wrong.

    And surely we should all have the humility and openness to the Spirit of God to admit that we ourselves, might be wrong in some particular of Scriptural interpretation?

  6. Peter, I have to confess. I saw your headline in the blog roll over at StandFirm and thought something was up regarding Star Trek.

    Oops. ;-)

    bb

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