January 15, 2016
My father was a choir boy in the famous “Little Church Around the Corner,” the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in New York City. One of my aunts was married there.
On its website, the church makes a point not of noting how many people have been won for Christ through its ministries but, instead, boasts of this:
“Continuing its long tradition of inclusiveness, the ‘Little Church’ celebrated the first same-sex wedding in the Diocese of New York in July 2012 and is proud to have performed several since the formal rite of Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant was adopted by the General Convention.”
It is this sort of thing – pride in jettisoning orthodox Christian teaching and practice on human sexuality – that yesterday led “the Anglican Primates - the senior bishops of the 38 Anglican Provinces” - to “formally … (require) that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church (USA) no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”
As the Primates, who were gathered in Canterbury, England for a special meeting called by Anglicanism’s chief cleric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote, “The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”
Of additional note at the annual event was “the full participation of the leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a new conservative body, among the leaders of the communion’s 38 provinces.”
As noted in The Washington Post, “Like other mainline denominations, the Episcopal Church, home to U.S. presidents and the nation’s elite, has struggled to fill its pews in recent years. It has lost more than 20 percent of its members since it consecrated (openly gay Bishop Gene) Robinson, and new statistics suggest that membership continues to fall, dropping 2.7 percent from 2013 to about 1.8 million U.S. members in 2014.”
This is a very sad day for a once great denomination, but not because it has been formally disciplined for its heterodoxy, but because of its embrace of that heterodoxy itself. The Bible is very clear that the only sexually intimate behavior of which God approves is that which exists between a man and a woman within the covenantal union of marriage. This is clear from Genesis onward.
It is, as the Primates’ statement says, “the traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture.” As well-known Presbyterian pastor and theologian Tim Keller has written, “until very, very recently, there had been complete unanimity about homosexuality in the church across all centuries, cultures, and even across major divisions of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions … One has to ask, then, why is it the case that literally no church, theologian, or Christian thinker or movement ever thought that any kind of same-sex relationships was allowable until now?”
Millions of American Protestants, disenthralled by their former “mainline” churches’ teachings on one or more of a number of critical issues, including human sexuality, are now attending churches whose orthodoxy is uncompromised and whose loyalty to Scripture is firm. Why? Because, as the Anglican Primates wrote, they have come to know “the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.”
To learn more about Scripture’s teaching on human sexuality, listen to Dr. Robert Gagnon’s FRC lecture, “Jesus, Scripture, and the Myth of New Knowledge Arguments about Homosexual Unions” and download my own “Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality: Some Thoughts on Honest Interpretation.”