Earlier this year, the Presbyterian Church (USA) decided to alter its constitution in order to allow openly-active gays into positions of ministers, elders, and deacons. After more than 30 years of debate on this issue, the PC(USA) joins the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Episcopal Church as mainline Protestant churches that accept gay clergy members and leaders. The measure changes the church’s constitution by removing a 1997 amendment that said that those ordained were required to live “either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman” or in “chastity in singleness.” The Rev. Heidi Vardeman, senior minister of Macalaster Plymouth United Church in St. Paul and a spokeswoman for a pro-gay church group called More Light Presbyterians, said in an interview, “Finally, the denomination has seen the error of its ways and it will repent, which means, literally, to turn around.” Yes, you read that correctly; the PC(USA) is basically saying that they were sinning in formerly prohibiting homosexual office bearers! The homosexuality issue is not over yet, however, because gay advocates are likely to try to pass an amendment at the church’s next General Assembly in 2012 calling for the church to bless same-sex marriages and unions. It should be noted that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a smaller and more conservative denomination, still holds (as of today) to prohibition of women officers and openly gay clergy and leaders.1
In Canada, a similar movement was seen in 2002. It was then that the First Christian Reformed Church in Toronto opened church leadership positions to practicing homosexuals, even though the denomination itself prohibited it at the time. First CRC’s pastor, Nick Overduin, said that this positive move would make First CRC a more inclusive congregation. Pastors in nearby CRC congregations, such as Hendrik Bruinsma of Maranatha CRC, stated that his “deepest concern is that the very salvation of people is at stake, because people will be misled about the basics of a new life in Christ and the nature of sin, repentance, and salvation.”2
The Acceptance of Homosexuality
So how did homosexuality begin getting a stronghold in society, and get a foot in the door of so many churches? The past two decades have shown the “gay agenda” spreading through social engineering. In their book: After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s, Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen argue that gays must portray themselves in a positive way to straight America, and that the main aim of making homosexuality acceptable could be achieved by getting Americans to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders. Then their battle for legal and social rights is virtually won. Kirk, a researcher in neuropsychiatry, and Madsen, a public relations consultant called for homosexuals to repackage themselves as mainstream citizens demanding equal treatment, rather than as a promiscuous sexual minority seeking greater opportunity and influence. Kirk and Madsen laid out several steps within this “gay manifesto” for success. They advised homosexuals to argue that they were born that way (a position that has recently been blasted from the radio into the ears of millions of young Americans thanks to Lady Gaga), even though the authors themselves state that “sexual orientation, for most humans, seems to be the product of a complex interaction between innate predispositions and environmental factors during childhood and early adolescence.” The gays needed to convince the public that homosexuality is natural for some people, and that sin and seduction have nothing to do with it. If not, religious groups would claim that homosexuality is a moral choice of sin. Gays needed to identify themselves as victims in order to make straights feel uncomfortable and ashamed. With the explosion of AIDS over the last few decades, homosexuals have used the disease as their chance to appear as a victimized minority needing and deserving special care and protection by the rest of America. Gays also tried to look good by “revealing” that certain historical (Abe Lincoln, King James I) and even biblical (King David and Jonathan) figures were actually homosexuals still in the closet. Another piece of advice to gays given by Kirk and Madsen was to overcome the obstacle of Christianity by “muddying the moral waters,” in which they could get support from moderate churches to gain theological objections to conservative Biblical teachings. This meant portraying the religious groups as those full of hatred that was inconsistent with their doctrines, antiquated and not up with the times in science, psychology and culture.3 Whether you realize it or not, the tactics laid out in this book are working. The homosexual movement is creeping in to every crevice of society, including religion. We need to be wary and watchful.
So how do we properly answer to the PC(USA)’s vote to allow homosexuals into office? First, let’s look at what church leaders are called to do. Verses two and three of I Peter 5 say that the elders are to feed the flock of God, taking oversight willingly, leading the flock by their own exemplary lives. Those who practice homosexuality are continuing in sin and unrepentant, disobeying God and thus are teaching the church by example that they, too, can disobey God.
Secondly, let’s see what qualifications leaders in the church should have. Both passages of I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:4-9 say that a man who desires to be an elder desires an honorable thing because he must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exhibit self-control, be able to teach, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must not be a drunkard, pugnacious, or greedy, but rather a patient man that manages his own house with faithful children. The requirements for deacons, in I Timothy 3:8ff, are similar. Based on these passages, practicing homosexuals cannot be leaders in the church. In remaining homosexuals, they purposely and willfully disobey God. Their lives of unrepentant sins can be spoken against, and they will not have a good report by others. Gay men do not have the wife and children that are clearly stated as requirements in Scripture.4
The Bible is very clear about homosexuality being against God’s will—something we should not practice. After God created Adam and Eve, he gave them the command to “Be fruitful, and multiply.” The woman is the help that is fit for the man. This same command was given to Noah and his family in Genesis 9:1. Those who are in homosexual relationships cannot be fruitful and bring forth children, and are again disobeying a command of the Lord. Genesis 19 records the story of the great sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the punishment they received for their homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 says “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” I Corinthians 6:9-10 reaffirms the sin of homosexuality when it says that fornicators, adulterers, the effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind—among other unrighteous people—will not inherit the kingdom of God. Romans 1:21-27 shows the foolishness of these ungodly men. This passage says that, even though God has made himself known so that they are without excuse, these men claim to be wise by changing the glory of the incorruptible God into that of a corruptible man, changing their filthy sins into something worth bragging about. They put themselves above God, and were unrepentant, so that God gave them over to their uncleanness and they continued to dishonor their bodies between themselves with vile affections. Women practiced lesbianism and men lusted after other men. Verse 32 of the same chapter states that these homosexuals know the judgment of God, and that they realize they deserve death; yet they continue in their own sin and take pleasure in others that partake in those sins. II Thessalonians 2:11-12 agrees, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Even those that merely have “homosexual tendencies or desires” but do not actually carry out the physical act of homosexuality are included, when Matthew 5:28 is applied. “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Objections Brought Up
Gay advocates try to say that God is continuing to reveal new things to us through our culture, so if homosexuality is culturally acceptable, it must be acceptable to God as well. We know, however, that God communicates with us through the Bible, not culture. Culture is formed by people. If God was communicating to us through culture, we would have to say that the American culture and those that accept homosexuality are the true cultures blessed by God. More importantly, this would imply that God changes based on what people want (which changes frequently!). If God can change, we cannot be sure of anything. The uncertainty of what is right or wrong, what God loves and hates, or how we can be saved would leave us as lost souls. However, we find comfort and assurance when Malachi 3:6 reveals that God does not change.
Several more objections are brought up concerning our position against homosexuality. One of them states that if homosexuality is wrong based on Old Testament laws, then all of the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy must still be upheld. However, we know that the civil laws recorded were for the Jewish theocracy, of which we are not a part today. The priestly laws contained in these books dealt with the Levitical and Aaronic priesthoods representing the High Priest Jesus, who has fulfilled the laws so that they no longer apply to us. The third group of laws, the moral laws, was not abolished in the sacrifice of Christ because these laws were based upon the unchanging character of God. These moral laws were re-established in the New Testament, and that is why homosexuality is still condemned as a sin. A second objection states that a loving, committed homosexual relationship is acceptable to God. However, this is never supported in the Bible, and goes against the order that God created. It is unnatural and defies God’s command to fill the earth. Homosexuals are trying to say that they have no sin—but they are deceiving themselves, and the truth is not in them (I John 1:8). A third argument is that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 was really the sin of not being hospitable to the “visitors” who were really angels. This has no validity, as the men of Sodom told Lot they wanted to have relations with the men, and refused to fulfill their lusts with Lot’s daughters when he offered them instead. Genesis 18:20 tells us that the sin of Sodom was “very grievous”—a description that fits homosexuality rather than lack of hospitality.5
Our fight against homosexuality will not get easier. We are told in II Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” Let us be thankful of the stance that the Protestant Reformed Churches take and pray that we continue on in the truth of Scripture regarding this matter.
- L. Goodstein, Presbyterians Approve Ordination of Gay People (The New York Times, May 10, 2011).
- S. Guthrie and C. Lowes, Homosexuality: Reformed church in Toronto welcomes active gay leaders (www.christianitytoday.com, December 9, 2002).
- Dr. R.A. Mohler, Jr., After the Ball—Why the Homosexual Movement has Won (www.freerepublic.com, June 3, 2004).
- M. Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (http://carm.org/christianity-and-homosexuality)