I am saddened by the recent decision of the General Synod of the NG Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) on same sex unions. This official decision (9 October 2019) will only serve to create confusion around what the Bible teaches on the subject and thus be spiritually unhelpful, misleading and dangerous to people.
The decision refers to the appointment of office bearers and the acceptance of members regardless of “sexual orientation and identity”.
The Bible never condemns sexual orientation, but only sinful sexual practice. Christians may struggle with homosexual temptation or heterosexual temptation, but refuse to act on their temptation and desire. This fight against temptation is to be commended.
The Bible also calls us not to place our identity in our sexuality, or in anything else, except in Christ.
Thus the phrase “sexual orientation and identity” is unhelpful and misleading.
However, I suspect that what the synod means is that churches should not discriminate against individuals regardless of their sexual practice.
This seems the meaning as the decision later states, “General Synod wants to affirm the space created for all to act according to their beliefs (beliefs about sex and gender).” The synod is also developing a service for confirming civil unions between persons of the same sex. These sentiments all involve acts (not just orientation) and set a very dangerous precedent as God will hold us all accountable for all actions (which stem from beliefs) that are contrary to his revealed Word. (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
The decision does state that local church councils may decide for themselves their policy for those involved in same sex relationships, but it strongly encourages local church councils not to discriminate on “sexual orientation and identity”. Again, this only serves to create further confusion in members’ minds as to what the Bible actually teaches on the subject and creates further division.
Differing on one’s view of homosexual practice is not like differing on one’s view of baptism or church government.
Peter Jensen, the former Archbishop of Sydney, writes (in another similar context):
“The emphasis on reconciliation between people holding different views, so that institutional unity must be preserved at all costs is at odds with the New Testament. According to Ephesians 2 and 3, people from warring human religious and cultural backgrounds, alike estranged from God, are brought together by repentance, faith in Christ and obedience to God’s word. There is then one church and one faith. Serious disagreement over core doctrines is not good diversity which can be managed by institutional control and re-organization, but a sign of serious sickness in the body. The answer, in the voice of true love, can only be renewal and reform by a return to Scripture. If we cannot call sin for what it is and preach repentance, we have abandoned love for others and indeed the gospel.”
Doctrine does divide. It divides truth from error.
“It is beholden on every true Christian to follow the plain teaching of the Word of God, and therefore to avoid homosexual activity as sin on a par with stealing, murder, and covetousness, which displeases God and makes us liable to the judgement of God.
It is beholden on every Christian, and especially ministers and teachers, to warn the unwary that such behaviour is offensive to God and bound to bring punishment.
As believers in the Christian gospel it is every Christian‘s privilege to assure those who turn to Christ from whatever sinful path into which they may have strayed that they have God‘s complete forgiveness and that they are wholly cleansed and brought into fellowship with him, and are true members of his Church.
Christian churches, denominations, and ministers are recognized by their profession of Christ as Lord and their adherence to the Word of God. Churches, denominations and ministers which advocate lifestyles in open conflict with Holy Scripture have strayed from the historic Christian Faith.
In particular, churches, denominations and ministers which by teaching, example and ordination policy declare to the world that homosexual activity is pleasing to God, when God‘s Word declares it evil and sufficient to exclude people from God‘s kingdom, endanger people‘s souls, and should be avoided by Christian people.”
The Archbishop of Sydney, The Most Revd Dr Glenn Davies, recently addressed the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney. He made this very relevant observation:
“My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our Church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views – but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture. Please leave us. We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.”
We are all sinners before a holy God and we each struggle with various sins – whether it be homosexual practice, heterosexual lust, or greed. Thank God that Jesus came to seek and save sinners!
A. The first step to being saved by Jesus is that we ADMIT that we are indeed sinners. (1 John 1:8-9)
B. The second step is that we BELIEVE that Jesus died and rose again to save sinners. (1 Peter 3:18)
C. The third step is to COME to Jesus in repentance (turning from sin) and faith (trusting in Jesus). (Mark 1:15)
In the sentiments of a well-worn cliche: we love sinners, but hate sin. Therefore, we call ourselves and others to be continually turning away from sin and towards Jesus.