Monday, July 9, 2012

Episcopal Church on GLBT Ordination & Discrimination

Recently, the Episcopal Church approved a proposal that would amend two canons in an effort to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Make no mistake about it; this move has little to do with legitimate discrimination, a necessary function of life, and everything to do with the authority of Scripture. Perhaps we could say that the problem resides in an interpretive paradigm that is firmly rooted in enlightenment thinking, so called. But this would only be begging the question in my opinion. Hermeneutical problems always have in back of them theological paradigms that are quite inimical to sound doctrine. This is due to the sin within all of us. It serves as an ever-present threat that every believer would do well to acknowledge and take the appropriate precautionary steps in light of its undeniable presence. After all, Satan roams around as a roaring lion with an intense desire to devour through deceit and deception. If He cannot accomplish that end, well, he will seek your life and well-being. He seeks to place within you that one thing which brought fallen men and angels to where they are today: doubt! Denominations who commit apostasy only do so from the perch of doubt. The Episcopal Church doubts God’s word on the issue of human sexuality and as a result, she abandons it, and in so doing, she abandons God. Jesus said he that is of God keeps, does, practices God’s word. What is one to make of the idea of discrimination? I have written about it before and I suspect I shall write about it often because those who seek to distort the gospel with the liberal sexual ethic of modern culture do not fail to bring it up at every opportunity. How shall we, the believing community who does not doubt God’s holy word, respond to the implied charge of discrimination? I do not wish to take what I think is a very simple exercise and compliment it for the sake of taking up space and wasting your time. The answer is indeed a simple one. Here is the question: does the church discriminate against certain people when it comes to ordination? The answer is yes, she does. She discriminates against people who have certain criminal records. She discriminates against people with certain moral values. I could go on and on. Is the church the only entity to engage in some form of discrimination? Absolutely not! The police forces of our communities discriminate all the time. Without writing about all the different entities that engage in some sort of discrimination, I think it is clear that discrimination is a part of every entities' policy to one degree or another. The real question is “should the church discriminate at all?” And if she should, what is the criteria by which the church should be discriminating about who she ordains to shepherd God’s flock. No Church is autonomous in any matter, least of all the matter of ordination. Just as the laws of the United States require authority from her constitution, so the Church must come under authority to Scripture when she looks to create polity. Scripture provides unambiguous imperatives for how discriminating the Church must be in who she ordains to the ministry. 1 Tim. 3:1-7 provides clear guidelines for who God would have leading His Church. One of those requirements is that the person being ordained must be a "one-woman kind of man." In other words, not a man who has wondering eyes that are prone to sexual immorality. The list is quite lengthy and it serves as God's discriminatory practices for ordination. It then follows that the Episcopal Church's aim to refuse to be more discriminating in the ordination process is misplaced and unbiblical. Where Scripture clearly demands discrimination based on a number of criteria, one being sexual practice, the Episcopal Church rejects it. In so doing, she rejects God. Those who are of God keep God's word. Non-Human? Finally, the EC clearly implied that to refuse to ordain gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is the equivalent of treating them as though they are not human. The statement is so preposterous that it is almost unworthy of treatment. But not quite. First of all, why limit your anti-discrimination policy to gay behavior? Are we to assume that other behaviors that would disqualify one from ordination in the EC would also terminate their humanness? I think that is a fair question. What about the untrained? What about pedophiles? If discrimination on the basis of sexual expression is evil, why are other forms of discrimination considered morally acceptable? Who owns the list of morally acceptable discrimination for ordination in the Church? Clearly Paul was working on an older version. This is where the grand interpretive paradigm shift enters the discussion. Somehow we can accuse Paul of cultural bias in these passages when we don't like his teachings but in those other passages, the ones about love and hospitality and social good, we want to keep those ones. Every apostate church and theological system has at least two things that accompany them: doubt and autonomy. We doubt God's word, His authority, His sovereignty, and we deeply desire to set our own standards and serve our own desires. So goes all apostates and so goes the Episcopal Church.

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