Who are the saints — and I don’t mean the various football and baseball teams who have adopted this name from the earliest days of Christianity?
Shall we, among the great company of saints who have served God faithfully and well in their generation, include those whose lives contravene the moral and spiritual code set out in the Scriptures?
I talk in particular of the homosexuals and lesbians who have dragged the Anglican Church to a crossroads in its history through the consecration today of a practicing homosexual as a bishop in the Episcopal Church of the USA. They have done so because of the insistence that their conduct and their moral stature and status is natural and acceptable to God. This act is likely to provoke such anger among those whose values are placed in traditional codes supported by written Scripture that the Anglican Church will almost certainly fracture. Indeed the fractures began a quarter of a century ago and may prove to be as great or greater than the divide created by the sixteenth century Reformation. In that Reformation the issues were of moral conduct and corruption by those in power as well as matters of theology and the interpretation of Scripture.
Today the issue is of sexuality and moral corruption sponsored by a minority group whose lifestyle is unnatural and contrary to the teachings of Scripture.
The latest round of difficulty began with the decision of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster to allow blessings of same-sex unions or marriages in church. This was followed by the attempt in England to consecrate a homosexual, Jeffery John, as bishop. The furore this raised caused him to resign his ambition.
Then in the diocese of New Hampshire in the United States a practicing homosexual, who was once married to a woman, and had two children by her, divorced his wife in order to live with his male lover. He is to be consecrated as a bishop of the Episcopal Church today.
What is raised here is the authority of Scripture in the life of individuals and the Church. The events have outraged and scandalized Biblically orthodox clergy and laity because those who are supporting the consecration are seen as promoting beliefs contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.
Paul, writing to the Corinthians says, Do not be deceived: the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes and homosexuals, thieves, the greedy and drunkards, slanderers and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. If this were not enough to convince us, in the first letter to Timothy it says, a bishop must lead a God-honoring life, as set out in the Scriptures. Of course this is supported by specific codes of behavior set out in the Old Testament.
The action of making a homosexual a bishop is thus doubly wrong.
Does this mean we should exclude homosexuals from church? No of course not, no one should be excluded from church as a whole because we are all imperfect and need to come to God. Every single person young or old, male or female should be made welcome to attend church and sit under the authority and teaching of God’s word. Herein lies the problem. Those who believe they are not in a state of sin through their sexual attraction to members of their own sex are declaring that Scriptures to be not only wrong but can be dispensed with when it conflicts with their personal lifestyle. It is not a question of struggling with the problem and failing.
Christ is the friend of sinners who constantly fail but to fail means that we are attempting to deal with our problems. In the case of the New Hampshire diocese we have a person who is celebrating their homosexuality, boasting about it and parading it as though it were a blessing sent by God.
The human sexuality issue is highlighted by a most bizarre episode this time in the diocese of New Jersey in the USA. A pregnant lesbian priest, who got herself impregnated by artificial insemination, is an organizer and leader of what are described as happening weekends for teenagers. Ironically, these happenings are to encourage celibacy before marriage and sex only within marriage. The mother of one of the teenagers due to attend one of these happenings, became so concerned she wrote to her bishop asking how a non-celibate pregnant lesbian could, in any sense, be seen as a wholesome example to teenagers. The bishop who is attending the consecration today in New Hampshire said he had positive feelings about the priest’s relationship with her partner and her ability to be a positive role model.
What all this raises for those who stay closer to a traditional interpretation of Scripture is the concern that such a pregnancy gives to young people about the role of parenting, and the idea that fathers are outside this sphere of love and concern and are baby producers through sperm banks outside marriage.
The priest concerned, the Rev’d Mantelle Bradley lives with her partner who is another clergywoman, The Rev’d Kristin Krieger. They bring the whole church and the church’s moral teaching into disrepute.
Single sex relationships that mimic marriage are a sham by the laws of nature because they cannot reproduce, which is the fundamental purpose of heterosexual relationships, the only sexually orientated relationship created by God.
Artificial insemination makes a further mockery of the homosexuals’ imitation of a real marriage.
This church can be thankful that it is no longer a part of ECUSA.
We broke away in 1999 because of the corrupt practices of its bishops in South America. We are now part of the International Anglican Catholic Church that stands for the sanctity of marriage between heterosexuals, the code of behavior that is written and supported by Scripture. We are not against homosexuals trying to live a celibate and godly life any more than we are against alcoholics trying to give up their addiction, a compulsion that is just as strong and that also damages both society and family life.
Some think that today’s action is like shooting a bullet into an ammunition dump whilst others believe it is a non-event that will be soon forgotten. For myself, I weep that the Church into which I was born, and raised, and came to ordination, has so easily parted with all that it has professed since the Reformation: that all things necessary to salvation are contained in the Holy Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments.
One must wonder, now that the walls of Scripture have been breached, at what some other minority group will come up with next when we can so easily flout 400 years of belief and tradition.
Think about it why not marriage with animals, polygamy, multiple partners why not?
All these things surely happen somewhere in the world so let’s endorse them in the Anglican Church where anything and everything goes.
For those who struggle to live a holy life because God is holy this has to be a sad day … one that will change the face of Christianity for ever.
If ever people needed the gospel message it is today.