Christianity in chaos over sexual morality

By David M. McNabb

In sports, when you find a particular stratagem or set of plays to be effective against your opponent, you continue to use them so long as the other team continues to be stymied.  The devil's playbook is neither extensive, nor is it a very well-kept secret.  Nevertheless, children of God fall prey to the same old tricks of Satan that he has used throughout the history of man.

Most sins fall under two categories: pride and doubt.  If the devil can convince you to think more highly of yourself than you should, then you will do and say things contrary to the will of God, that is, you will sin.  If the devil can cause you to doubt, then you will forsake God's word and sin against it.  It was because of doubt that Eve took of the tree and ate, questioning whether God had truly spoken concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Nebuchadnezzar, because of pride, lost the kingdom - and his sanity - for seven years.  Satan has assayed to use these two strategies on men and women of God from the beginning, and Jesus alone overcame his every attempt.

Sexual sins fall into the same two general categories of pride and doubt.  Often, because of pride, one thinks that he or she is God's gift to the opposite sex, and as a result, will behave immorally.  It is due to pride, that a man will take another man's wife - many times thinking, "How did he end up with her.  She deserves better.  She should be with me."  (Of course, women often fall into this same trap of pride.)  Pride also brings the delusion that one will not get caught, thinking they are smarter than the adulterers and fornicators which have come before.

Sexual deviancy is also bolstered by doubt in the word of God, or even of God Himself.  If there is a Creator, and He ordained the laws by which man should behave, then those rules are immutable, and man is responsible to act in accordance with them.  However, if there is no God, then there is no fixed standard of behavior, and one need only act according to whether or not it "feels good."

God, in His word, went to great lengths to define morality in general, and sexual morality in particular.  The believer must contrast all behavior with the unchangeable standard of morality: the Bible.  All the same, without the Bible as a standard, morality is defined by society, an entity which is in a constant state of flux.  Public opinion shifts from day to day as to what is right and wrong, what is "moral" and what is "immoral."

For instance, today it is considered immoral to allow your children to ride in a car unrestrained, whereas that was normal behavior until just recently.  It was acceptable to use DDT to kill insects a few years ago, but having been proven hostile to other parts of the ecology, using it would be reprehensible today.  Present views find driving while intoxicated to be condemnable, while a couple of decades ago, one might merely be scolded and told to get on home.  On the other hand, although many people alive today remember when it was offensive to even say the word "pregnant," it is socially acceptable to live together, or to have children, outside of marriage in 21st century America.  These are but a few examples of the fact that, without a Higher Authority, what is immoral today can be acceptable tomorrow, and vice versa.

If a play is working, coach Satan says he is going to keep running it.

On August 6, 2003, the Episcopal Church voted to elect Gene Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire.  This was unique in that Robinson is the first openly homosexual to be so chosen.  Ironically, the very same convention, on the very same day, voted to reject a proposal to draft a liturgy for same-sex ceremonies.  So a body of "Christian believers" officially advocates homosexuality, but only outside the scope of wedlock, because there is no alternative.  Mr. Robinson, New Hampshire's illustrious new bishop, divorced his wife, walked out on his children and took up with another man, one with whom he currently lives, and that is rewarded with approval.  (Oddly, the same denomination would expel a heterosexual bishop for having sex outside marriage.)

One of the bishops was quoted as saying, "Homo-sexuality is a gift from God."  One must wonder, "Who is this god? And where is the book that he wrote about the blessings of homosexuality?"

This statement, by a supposed Christian leader, is in stark contrast with the Word of God.  The Bible is neither silent, nor ambiguous on this subject.  Whether citing the Old or New Testament, the Word proclaims homosexuality to be an abomination: abhorrent to God and a bane of society.  "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Lev. 18:22).

Paul agreed, "When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  . Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.  . For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.  . Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Rom. 1:21-32).

Episcopalian conservatives have an ally in the global Anglican Communion, the body to which the Episcopalian Church belongs, which itself expressed their opposition to the American church's "western agenda," and are considering separating themselves from the U.S. branch.  The vote has triggered severe criticism from within and from without, especially in third world countries, warning that this is a slippery slope and the outcome cannot be positive.

Other churches are likewise struggling with the subject.  In 2001, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commissioned a four-year study on homosexuality and the church, and called for the vote to be held when the report is completed in 2005.  The ELCA recognizes and shares Episcopalian sacraments and clergy under a full communion pact they approved four years ago.  Although the Lutheran body does not specifically ban same-sex unions, a 1993 statement said bishops do not approve of such a ceremony, seeing no basis for it in Scripture or church tradition.  They do, however, welcome homosexual members, and their ministers can be openly homosexual as long as they are celibate.

The Catholic Church, which itself is no stranger to sexual scandal, is adamantly opposed to homosexual unions and homosexual adoptions.  On July 31, 2003, the Vatican issued a statement, saying that Catholic politicians have a "moral duty" to oppose laws granting legal rights to homosexual and lesbian couples, and non-Catholics should follow their lead because the issue concerns "natural moral law."

No society in which homosexuality has become tolerable has long endured.  Nevertheless, we find ourselves today standing in the court of public opinion.  Presidential candidates, who live or die by the sword of public sway, are themselves taking sides over this issue.  Al Sharpton, supposed minister and would-be president, supports same-sex marriage, but liberal Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kerry say that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.

It is  "natural moral law" - God's law - which defines right and wrong, and it is His court in which we will all stand one day to give an account of our lives.  His word, which shall never pass away, says, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."

As denominations struggle with whether to believe God's word, or kowtow to pressure from secular society, true men and women of God must be faithful to Him, unwavering in His word and will.  We must, in the face of all adversity, stand for God's natural moral law.

When society finds morality in "tolerating" behavior that opposes Scripture, we must say with Peter and John, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye" (Acts 4:19), for we "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28).

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, where-by we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:28-29).