Rather than adopting some new theological position at a local church or Presbytery level, let us appeal to the broader church to study the issue and report back to the church. Is sexual desire for other men or women of the same gender acceptable, as long as it does not become lust, or is it lust itself? Is being born as a homosexual as normal as being born as a heterosexual? If the “gay Christian” movement prevails, will leadership positions be open to homosexual Christians?
It appears to me that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) should be preparing for some serious trouble. The conflict will be over the legitimacy of what is being termed “gay Christian.” It is the pink elephant in the room. While the PCA is obsessed with repairing her past sins of racial discrimination, a much bigger monster is lurking at the door. Ten or twenty years ago, the outcome of this issue would have been obvious, but “the times they are a changin.”
One side has already acted judicially in protecting the ordination of one of its ministerial candidates who they term a “gay Christian.” A local church and a PCA Presbytery have drawn a line in the sand and said that the concept of a “gay Christian” is biblically defensible, and this is the end of the matter (see The Aquila Report “What Do You Think? Part 1”).
On the other side, the opposition appears to be sidestepping the issue of directly dealing with the legitimacy of a “gay Christian,” by sending overtures to the General Assembly to prevent future gay-marriage in the PCA (The Aquila Report – Gulfstream Overture to the PCA General Assembly). Mr. Williams, the author of the first article, is an exception.
When will all of this come to a head? I do not know. The overture to the General Assembly by a PCA Presbytery (look for others to follow) could be the spark that officially begins the battle at least on a denominational level.
The outcome will not be pretty. I don’t see any compromise on either side. The pro “gay Christian” forces have already laid claim to a legitimate place in the PCA. I would guess that many in the opposition forces may be looking for other polity maneuvers to deter this movement, or they are looking for another home.
Two things need to be done right now if we are to pursue peace which is an obligation for all of us. I don’t think this will prevent the battle from raging, but fairness demands consideration of both of these.
First, I think it is incumbent that both sides begin using biblical language. The term “gay” was deliberately chosen by unbelievers to paint sin and perversion as an alternative and happy lifestyle. He who defines the words usually wins the battle. Let us not use the term “gay Christian.” Rather, in any debate, we should implore all parties to use a biblical term like “homosexual Christian.”
Secondly, rather than adopting some new theological position at a local church or Presbytery level, let us appeal to the broader church to study the issue and report back to the church. Is sexual desire for other men or women of the same gender acceptable, as long as it does not become lust, or is it lust itself? Is being born as a homosexual as normal as being born as a heterosexual? If the “gay Christian” movement prevails, will leadership positions be open to homosexual Christians?
The battle is upon us. I am afraid there will be harsh words, many tears, and sadness in days to come. I went through a war in the Old PCUS (Southern Presbyterian Church) when the PCA was formed. It was dreadful. I certainly do not want to go through another one again. Some type of division may be ahead of us. Brother against brother. Church against church. Presbytery against Presbytery.
It would be wise to clarify the issues first by using biblical language, and secondly, by letting the broader church speak clearly to the issue so that we will know where the PCA stands as a denomination. Then all of us will be in a better position to know what to do.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.