According to this ruling one has to wonder if a pastor in the PCA would be liable if he reveals an unrepentant attraction to have sex with little children or an attraction to have sex with the wives of other men, as long as they don’t touch. Are such things now permissible in the PCA? This Presbytery seems to have ruled it would be.
We all knew it was a matter of time before the homosexual agenda came to our Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) door. But I’m sure we didn’t expect it from a church and its Presbytery within the PCA. Yet, both church courts recently ruled in favor of promoting and defending several principal propositions of pro-homosexual ideology that are now at the heart of our nation’s unfortunate approval and defense of homosexual behavior. It is a highly effective strategy in military tactics to apply a decisive effort at the center of gravity of your opposition. In other words, you hit them exactly where they think they are the safest.
The PCA is well known even outside its tent as a church that is unswerving in its commitment to the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards, the purity of the church, the transformational presence and power of God in its worship, a dynamic and prophetic confrontation of unbiblical thought and behavior, and a demonstration of the truth through the practice of holiness and love in Christian fellowship. This is the PCA’s center of gravity. It is also where a profound and serious deviation of our standards regarding sexual purity has arisen, right where we thought we were safest. But now precedence has been set that will surely open the door for the acceptance of homosexual conduct in the PCA, just as it has happened in other mainline protestant denominations.
To demonstrate respect and decorum, I will not mention names or entities in this article. Rather, I’ll submit an account of events which have recently transpired within the PCA that has directly challenged its biblical standards of doctrine and life, and the very core message of the gospel of Jesus Christ itself. I open the proverbial floor for examination, judgment and wisdom of the wider body of brothers in leadership within the PCA regarding the biblical issues involved.
It should be noted that this issue has already been made very public by the pastor in question; we’ll just call him ‘The pastor.’ This is not a private issue. Efforts were made unsuccessful, both personally and privately in accordance with Matthew 18, to resolve the issue. Fortunately, charges were eventually filed against The pastor from a minister outside of his Presbytery. The charges were received and adjudicated by the Presbytery of The pastor, but their decision to dismiss the case was unbiblical, evasive, precedent setting and deeply disconcerting. The Presbytery’s ruling effectually ends any further deliberations of the issue but now gives rise to what you are now reading for public scrutiny.
The issue at hand centers on the actions of The pastor of a large and influential PCA church who decided to promote pro-homosexual ideology from the pulpit through a morally compromised young man seeking ordination as a teaching elder (TE, minister) in the PCA. This young man not only claims to be homosexually-attracted to men but is very firm in his unrepentant attitude regarding that attraction. His struggle is not with homosexual attraction itself. He embraces it. However, to be obedient to God as a homosexually-attracted man, he claims to remain celibate. The pastor and the Presbytery all agree that homosexual lusts and behaviors are sinful. However, they also agree that homosexual attractions (desires, thoughts and feelings) are not sinful. When the ministerial candidate was asked if he believes “his homosexual feelings, attractions, thoughts and desires are sinful,” he believes they are not and further upholds that homosexual attractions and God-given heterosexual attractions are morally equivalent:
“I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.”
The pastor has taken full advantage of this young man and made him the centerpiece of a highly publicized event in his church. There, he emphasized the unrepentant homosexual disposition of this young man and exhorted the church to accept him precisely because of his disposition. In a capstone sermon at this event, The pastor stressed several points that unmistakably affirmed key pro-homosexual ideology, that individuals with homosexual attractions:
- Are born that way, like the first eunuch in Matthew 19.
- Are born that way through no fault of their own, like the man born blind in John 9.
- Are born that way for the glory of God, like the blind man in John 9.
These are The pastor’s exact words from the pulpit:
“He (Jesus) says some have been made eunuchs or some have been made celibate from birth. They were born to be celibate, born this way. And this could be through a physical disability of some sort, or it could be through an orientation. That if given into would represent infidelity to the gospel. And so with this orientation, assuming it doesn’t go away, the call to faithfulness is the call to chastity and to celibacy. Because you were this way from birth Jesus said. Celibate from birth the way you were made.
You remember when, when, when the Pharisees were asking why is the man who was born blind, why was he born this way. You know, who sinned, the Pharisees said, “Who did something wrong that he was born this way; was it him or was it his parents?” And Jesus said, “Nobody did anything wrong. It wasn’t his parents, it wasn’t him. He wasn’t born this way because there’s something wrong with him. He was born this way so that through his affliction, through his minority position as a blind person, God can be glorified.”
Continuing with a short reference to the testimony of the young man concerning who he was born to be, The pastor also stated:
“There are those who were born this way. And the question isn’t how am I born, the question is what does fidelity to the Gospel look like given the cards that are in my hand. This doesn’t just apply to followers of Jesus who have same-sex attraction. It applies across the board.”
Some of the charges that were filed with the Presbytery included The pastor’s clear rejection of a brotherly admonishment by a fellow TE for advocating infidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his failure as a minister to call homosexual persons to repentance and holiness in every area of the Christian life. The pastor also affirmed to his congregation while on video, posted on YouTube, that he would hire this young man as a TE for his church on the spot, even though some believe this would be wrong since he remained unrepentant for his homosexual attractions.
What do you think?
The Committee on Judicial Business (CJB) of the Presbytery was provided an abundance of evidences and standards (Scripture, Westminster Confession of Faith references, PCA Doctrinal Statements, and some scholarly articles) for their deliberations. However, when the CJB ruled on the question:
“Do the Scriptures or Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) doctrinal standards identify homosexual attractions (same sex attractions) as sinful along with homosexual immorality and homosexuality?” They responded:
“No. The Scriptures speak clearly condemning homosexual immorality, homosexual behavior and homosexual lust. The Scriptures do not condemn temptations as sin. James 1:13-15 speaks of the relationship between temptation, desire, sin and death. Lustful desires of any sort are sin. Attractions and propensities are temptations and not sin.”
Notice that the CJB never answered the question. Rather, they just drew an equivalence between homosexual attractions (desires, thoughts and feelings) and sinless temptations.
According to this ruling one has to wonder if a pastor in the PCA would be liable if he reveals an unrepentant attraction to have sex with little children or an attraction to have sex with the wives of other men, as long as they don’t touch. Are such things now permissible in the PCA? This Presbytery seems to have ruled it would be. Is this now an acceptable interpretation of James 1?
What do you think?
The recommendation to dismiss the charges against The pastor by his Presbytery’s CJB passed handily. It should be noted that when a couple of elders objected to the CJB’s recommendations, they were ignored by the Clerk, the Moderator and the Chairman of the CJB, and their comments were stricken from the minutes.
Further, a senior TE of the Presbytery moved – which was seconded – to effect a public reprisal against the character of the TE who submitted the charges to the entire Presbytery, without evidence, equating him to the person described in BCO 31:8-9, and moved to send the defamation to the Stated Clerk of the author’s Presbytery.
Is this what the PCA has come to? What do you think?
Chuck Williams is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is eenrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at Erskine Theological Seminary, Due West, S.C., with a concentration on Ethics and Moral Leadership.