SC Standing Committee Releases Statement on Upcoming Vote for Same Sex Blessings

Posted: June 20, 2012 by boydmonster in Anglican Communion, Thought and Practice in the Diocese of South Carolina
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The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina just released this statement in anticipation of this summer’s upcoming General Convention.  The General Convention has historically been the main governing body of the Episcopal Church.  In anticipation for GC 2012, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has published this 84 page document entitled Excerpts from ‘I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing’ Resources for Blessing Same Sex Relationships.”  This document ends with two resolutions.  Resolution A049 intends to ‘Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships’ and Resolution A050 intends to “Create [a] Task Force on the Study of Marriage .  The clear intent of this document and the resolutions is to begin blessing same sex relationships.  While the Standing Committee’s message is clear, I want to let you (especially members of Trinity Church) know where I stand as your Senior Pastor.

First off, let me simply reiterate that while I will be dealing with the issue of same sex blessings here, it is not the real issue.  The real issue in the Episcopal Church today is that we belong to a denomination that is increasingly abandoning the uniqueness of Jesus, His substitutionary death for sinners, and the authority of the Scriptures. 

The issue of same sex blessings/marriages, as an expression of these issues, has been to date one of the most controversial issues in the history of Anglicanism.  In the past decade it has threatened to tear apart one of the largest international Christian fellowships in the world.  It does not look like the issue is about to resolve itself either in the Anglican Communion or in the culture at large.  At the same time, this is an intensely personal issue.  It effects everyone who struggles secretly with same sex attractions, afraid of what friends and family will think if they find out.  It effects those who have taken the radical step of embracing a homosexual lifestyle as part of their identity.  And it effects everyone who knows and loves any of these people.  As such, it behooves the Christian to deal with this issue sensitively and in obedience to the full council of Scripture. 

You can expect a fuller treatment from me on the issue of homosexuality and same sex relationships from a biblical perspective in the future.  Suffice it to say today that I am in agreement with the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina’s statement.  Marriage exists as a central piece of the Biblical narrative.  The Bible begins with the marriage of Adam and Eve and ends with Christ being united with His Bride, the Church.  Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that marriage is a living symbol of the reality of the Trinitarian God (Ephesians 5:28-32, 1 Corinthians 11:3). The relationship between a husband and a wife is designed by God to show the relationship between God the Father and God the Son as well as the Relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church.  Because these relationships are essential to the Christian faith, any change in either the doctrine of marriage or the practice of marriage jeopardizes the Biblical understanding of who God is.  Recently I preached a sermon about how God is love because of His inter-Trinitarian relationship.  This sermon would be meaningless if we changed the doctrine of Christian marriage.

That being said, it is my opinion that the church has much to repent of in how we have dealt with people who have same-sex attractions.  Romans 3:23 states very clearly that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  That includes the homosexual and the heterosexual.  The church has been all to ready to condemn not only homosexual sin above heterosexual sin, but sexual sins above other kinds of sin.  The Gospel exists to free us from every kind of sin from adultery to envy, murder to gossip, the hatred of racism to the ambivalent acceptance of human pain and suffering while we live in opulence.  This means that no heterosexual Christian can boast in his sexuality.  According to the Scriptures, every human being is sinful and broken in every arena of their lives in desperate need of the salvation of Jesus Christ. 

Furthermore, the Gospel is readily available to forgive and cleanse any who would accept it.  To state that any non-Biblical behavior is beyond the transforming power of the Gospel is to deny the Gospel’s efficacy and relevance for our lives. In Romans 1:16, Paul says “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes.”  If the Gospel were not powerful to overcome sin, I would be lost.  I must sensitively say then that the Gospel has the power to overcome any sexual desires condemned in Scripture. 

What Can You Expect at Trinity

Now that you know my personal stance here, what can you expect from your leadership in reaction to these upcoming events?  You can be sure that I will labor as vigorously as I always have to keep the Gospel in the very center of our vision.  I cannot communicate to you the level of concern I have that we would be sidetracked from the mission of the Gospel by these sideline issues.  Trinity must continue to labor to become a City on a Hill, a community that shines with the light of the Gospel.  There is no other option for us.  You can also be assured that I, the clergy, and the staff will continue to treat all people at Trinity with the same level of respect that we always have, regardless of sexual identity.  The ground at the foot of the cross is level ground and none of us has grounds to boast above another.  Finally, you can be sure that the Gospel, not morality, politics, or tolerance, will continue to be our message as long as I am here. 

In conclusion, I beg everyone at Trinity to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,” (2 Timothy 2:8 ESV).  Remember that it is He who has died for your sin.  Remember that it is He who lives for you today.  Remember it is He who will judge the living and the dead.  In light of that truth, let us treat one another charitably with respect knowing that none of us would be salvageable apart from the work of Christ.  I so dearly love being your pastor.  My prayer is that we would continue to move into a deeper and deeper knowledge and love of the One who died for us, and that we would do so together.

In Him,

Iain

n.b. I have decided to keep comments open.  Please remember to seek to honor Christ in every comment you make.

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Comments
  1. Terri Springs says:

    So proud of you, you are a gift to us…in every way!

  2. Bruce says:

    I agree with every thing that you said. People of Trinity please don’t get sidetracked from the mission of spreading and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  3. Keith says:

    I realize as I write this that I am not going to change anyone’s mind on the topic. However, I would not be true to myself or others if I didn’t offer a different point of view! I appreciate your love and candor Iain and I am completely convinced that you not only have a true Pastor’s heart but also you love me irregardless of my sexual orientation! I wish that somehow you and others at Trinity Episcopal Church would come to the table and not insist on getting your way all the time! It doesn’t mean you agree with the others, it means you make your voice heard because it’s important!

    All Scripture is needed to interpret all Scripture. Be careful when forming opinion/doctrine not to “Americanize” God’s Holy Word over the topic of marriage.

    I love you and I think you’re awesome! Please don’t be mad at me!

  4. boydmonster says:

    Keith, I’m only now emerging from the North Woods of Wisconsin, so I’ll leave a fuller comment until later. For now, let me just thank you for your respectful tone and willingness to engage. We would be in a better place as a church if we learned how to disagree and listen to one another charitably and honestly.

  5. […] You can read my brief thoughts on Resolution A049, authorizing provisional same sex blessings here. While I am deeply concerned with the conventions departure from 2000 years of the church’s […]

  6. Stephen says:

    Homosexuality is an illicit lust forbidden by God. He said to His people Israel, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). In these passages homosexuality is condemned as a prime example of sin, a sexual perversion. The Christian can neither alter God’s viewpoint nor depart from it………love your (sinful) neighbor as yourself, but do not condone nor justify his sins, just as you should not condone nor justify your sins, but confess them to the Lord, and repent from them..

  7. boydmonster says:

    Stephen, thank you for your thoughts here. It is important for Christians to remember not to cherry pick which sins we stand against. So, when Jesus speaks to straight men, He tells them “If any man looks at a woman with the intention of lusting, he has committed adultery in his heart.” It is essential, then, that every Christian, straight or gay, sees their own sin and seeks an increasing committment not only to the norms of Scripture, but increasing conformity to the image of Christ.

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