Sunday, 5 June 2011

I'm looking at a column in Scotland on Sunday by Duncan Hamilton entitled War on drugs has also become a war on free thinking, and as I read, my mind drifts, and makes a connection between what he is saying, and the current impending crisis in the Church of Scotland, with many in the evangelical wing breathing heavily, gathering in corners, and making altogether threatening noises about their position in the National Church being no longer tenable.

The Global Commission on Drugs Policy produced its report last week. It is recommending the decriminalising of certain drugs. Why? It has evidence that the costs, social and financial, of incarcerating, on a global scale, millions of people, are massive and moreover do nothing to restrict or reduce the flow of drugs. The war on drugs is not being won in other words. The commission wants to find other ways of dealing with the problem which centre mainly on undermining organised crime by making drugs like cannabis legally available. Using other forms of treatment like heroine assisted programmes are also suggested. Hamilton says that for many these proposals will be offensive. Cries of "weakness" and "throwing in the towel", "letting them off the hook" etc can be heard in the wings.
Now, what is the goal of those who want to leave the Church of Scotland? Do they want a church which cleaves more closely to Scripture? A better purer one than the one they would leave behind? One which does not support clergy who are committed to sinful lifestyle choices? Fair enough in its own way. Let us for the moment give the ground to the anti gay lobby. For the sake of argument only, let us accept that a gay lifestyle is sinful. Are those intent on exiting the national church going to adopt the same stringency on the gluttonous in their midst, on the mean, on the proud? These too might be construed as life choices, and can certainly in the light of Scripture be shown to be sinful. And given that the debate rages between equally God and Bible loving Christians about whether or not it is sinful to act out a homosexual orientation, whereas we could agree on gluttony and pride fairly easily, I am to say the least, confused.

The connection for me between this and the decriminalisation of drugs is that we need to truly debate these things, rather than shout at each other from entrenched positions. That latter is not surely what we learned from Christ. A practical situation forced a decision upon us; one which we would rather have avoided making. But for years, we have had gay people in the ordained ministry, some with an active sexual life kept low key and secret, others celibate. Was turning a benevolent blind eye better? I don't think so. We need to keep talking to each other, and keep affirming that what makes us different from each other is not badness. 

1 comment:

Paul said...

I'd like to pick up on a few of your comments Frank.

"we need to truly debate these things" Why? The church has not seen fit to debate these things in the last 1900 years, why now? In fact the reason it's not been debated before is because the Bible is unambiguous "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9). I interpret this to mean that those who practice homosexuality will not go to heaven when they die. Indeed it is a warning to us all that if we contiune in any of those things listed, we jeopardise our eternal well-being. No doubt many of us have commited at least one of these listed things in our lives but if we are believers then we will have repented and will be trying not to re-commit them. King David sinned terribly against God when he slept with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband to be killed. But we know he repented. He did not make a habit of doing this. It did`not become a lifestyle choice for him. The Church of Scotland however is sending out a message that homosexuality is OK. Some of its ministers not only condone it but even engage in it themselves. God-fearing Christians will certainly not want to associate any longer with such a church.

"For the sake of argument only, let us accept that a gay lifestyle is sinful". Let us instead accept that a gay lifestyle is sinful because of what Paul (under the inspiration of God's Spirit) says "Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." (Romans 1:27).

"Women are not supposed to worship without hats in mixed company." I think we realise that Paul was speaking according to local custom at the time on this one.

"I believe the imperative to love is so overriding and overwhelming ..." Yes, but to love God comes first. We love God when we honour what He says rather than listen to man's opinion. If God says something is an abomination, we should not debate it`(Leviticus 20:13). In the past, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their practice of homosexuality. That's a big hint as to what God says on the subject.

"If we ignore some things and have a go at others, I want to ask why?" There are a lot Old Testament laws however the apostles, thankfully, laid down a simple set of rules which they said would be good for gentile believers to observe. Abstain from sexual immorality is on their list and this includes homosexuality (Acts 15:29).

"...adopt the same stringency on the gluttonous in their midst, on the mean, on the proud?" As people seeking to please God we should always be examining ourselves and repenting if such things arise in us. God wants us to be holy. Jesus is coming back for a bride who is spotless and without blemish. As believers, God's grace is there for when we sin but if we continue to sin, there is no more grace "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a certain fearful expectation of judgment" (Hebrews 10:26,27).