What Are The Solutions?

It is absolutely tragic that the church is so distracted, and so divided, by this issue. There must be a solution. How can it be resolved? What is the way ahead? The options for a denomination or an individual church seem to be as follows.

Remain divided

This option would seem to be untenable. It has only negative consequences - all of the things mentioned on the previous page.

Respect both points of view

In practice, that doesn’t happen. People hold their views with some passion and absolutely believe that those holding the opposite view are wrong. Because they believe this issue is important, they feel strongly about it and may get angry. Even when people remain civil, there is actually little respect. Indeed, should there be? Does God call us to respect those we believe are acting contrary to the teachings of the scriptures and damaging the church in the process? In other words, is respecting both views a scriptural response?

All agree that homosexual acts are sinful

In my view, because I believe the Bible teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, that is what should happen. It would be simply amazing if a church was to sincerely seek to determine God’s mind on this issue and agree to abide by that. It would be a miracle and such unity and submission to God would be a profound witness in the wider community. Without a miracle it simply won’t happen. Views are entrenched. People feel strongly. There will always be spiritual forces opposing the church and promoting unrighteousness. Nevertheless, it is the ideal solution. For others, this would be a nightmare.

All agree that homosexual acts are not sinful

Of course, I realise that others will say that this is what should happen. This would equally be a miracle and such unity would be a powerful witness. The problem is that there will always be Christians who read their Bibles and who are therefore not going to agree. Indeed, there are Christians now who would find this “solution” unbearable and would therefore oppose it or leave that church. From their point of view, this would be the worst of all possible outcomes.

Find a so-called “Third Way”

Many people have talked about finding a third way. The suggestion is that, while we see only two opposite views, God is able to provide a third way that, presumably, will be acceptable to both parties. We simply have to keep talking to each other until that third way emerges. Of course, God is capable of providing a solution that we hadn’t anticipated and it would be foolish to deny that such a solution may emerge. However, no one has found it yet and people are beginning to question whether such a solution exists. Some churches have chosen what they see as a compromise. One such is to say that individual churches can make their own decision. The denomination will not have a policy that prescribes for anyone how they must act or what they much believe. Churches that do not believe homosexuality is right are not forced to, for example, have a leader who is actively homosexual. And churches wanting to accommodate practising homosexuals can. That seems like a reasonable solution until it is realised that the denomination has said that homosexuality is acceptable. The denomination has said “Yes”. In other words, all supposed third ways are permissive; they allow for practising homosexuals to give leadership within the church. Consequently, conservatives are forced to be part of a liberal denomination (unless, of course, they choose to leave.) Conservatives will ask questions such as: If homosexual practice is a sin that incurs God’s wrath; if practising homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of God, how can the church promote such activity and tell people that they will be saved? If God says “no” and we say “yes”, that is not loving either to God or to the homosexual. How can a church so deliberately defy what the Bible says without being apostate? Isn’t this reminiscent of the situation described at the end of the book of Judges: “In those days Israel had no king: everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 17:6; 21:25)? It seems that we have two irreconcilable positions. One says that homosexual practice is sinful; the other says that it isn’t. It is hard to imagine any middle position. It either is sinful or it isn’t. Maybe God has not provided a third way because He wants His church to adopt His way i.e. He wants His church to believe what He has said and be faithful to it. No other way is required.

Split

People hate the idea of a church splitting. For some, unity is even more important than righteousness. They would rather agree to sin in the church than see it split. Jesus, after all, prayed for unity amongst Christians, on the night of the Last Supper. A church split would be a terrible witness to a society that already has little time for Christians and would be confirmed in their view if it became apparent that Christians could not get along. On the other hand, Jesus did not pray for Christians to be united to sin. On the contrary, the Bible exhorts Christians to separate from sin. A split is far from ideal. United submission to the word of God is ideal but, in the absence of that, a split might be the only alternative. And it might even be God’s will. If Christians are to reject sin and they do that, that might be an act of righteousness that God will honour.

Decide but allow for continued debate

This option would mean that the church adopts one view or the other and requires that people adhere to that, but allows people to work for a change in the policy. In other words, the church would decide its current policy and expect compliance but would be open to changing its point of view. Advantages Clarity about the current position of the church An ability to change as the church’s understanding changes People are free to work for what they believe in Disadvantages Ongoing tension as the parties vie for ascendancy People may feel this is a conscience issue to the point that they cannot abide by a ruling they do not believe in, i.e. there will be rebellion or people will leave. A church’s doctrine should not be determined democratically nor as a result of political jockeying. It should be determined by faithful interpretation of the word of God.

Related pages

· · · · · · · · · ·
© 2017 Peter Cheyne
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
Main sections Main sections

What Are The

Solutions?

It is absolutely tragic that the church is so distracted, and so divided, by this issue. There must be a solution. How can it be resolved? What is the way ahead? The options for a denomination or an individual church seem to be as follows.

Remain divided

This option would seem to be untenable. It has only negative consequences - all of the things mentioned on the previous page.

Respect both points of view

In practice, that doesn’t happen. People hold their views with some passion and absolutely believe that those holding the opposite view are wrong. Because they believe this issue is important, they feel strongly about it and may get angry. Even when people remain civil, there is actually little respect. Indeed, should there be? Does God call us to respect those we believe are acting contrary to the teachings of the scriptures and damaging the church in the process? In other words, is respecting both views a scriptural response?

All agree that homosexual acts are sinful

In my view, because I believe the Bible teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, that is what should happen. It would be simply amazing if a church was to sincerely seek to determine God’s mind on this issue and agree to abide by that. It would be a miracle and such unity and submission to God would be a profound witness in the wider community. Without a miracle it simply won’t happen. Views are entrenched. People feel strongly. There will always be spiritual forces opposing the church and promoting unrighteousness. Nevertheless, it is the ideal solution. For others, this would be a nightmare.

All agree that homosexual acts are not sinful

Of course, I realise that others will say that this is what should happen. This would equally be a miracle and such unity would be a powerful witness. The problem is that there will always be Christians who read their Bibles and who are therefore not going to agree. Indeed, there are Christians now who would find this “solution” unbearable and would therefore oppose it or leave that church. From their point of view, this would be the worst of all possible outcomes.

Find a so-called “Third Way”

Many people have talked about finding a third way. The suggestion is that, while we see only two opposite views, God is able to provide a third way that, presumably, will be acceptable to both parties. We simply have to keep talking to each other until that third way emerges. Of course, God is capable of providing a solution that we hadn’t anticipated and it would be foolish to deny that such a solution may emerge. However, no one has found it yet and people are beginning to question whether such a solution exists. Some churches have chosen what they see as a compromise. One such is to say that individual churches can make their own decision. The denomination will not have a policy that prescribes for anyone how they must act or what they much believe. Churches that do not believe homosexuality is right are not forced to, for example, have a leader who is actively homosexual. And churches wanting to accommodate practising homosexuals can. That seems like a reasonable solution until it is realised that the denomination has said that homosexuality is acceptable. The denomination has said “Yes”. In other words, all supposed third ways are permissive; they allow for practising homosexuals to give leadership within the church. Consequently, conservatives are forced to be part of a liberal denomination (unless, of course, they choose to leave.) Conservatives will ask questions such as: If homosexual practice is a sin that incurs God’s wrath; if practising homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of God, how can the church promote such activity and tell people that they will be saved? If God says “no” and we say “yes”, that is not loving either to God or to the homosexual. How can a church so deliberately defy what the Bible says without being apostate? Isn’t this reminiscent of the situation described at the end of the book of Judges: “In those days Israel had no king: everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 17:6; 21:25)? It seems that we have two irreconcilable positions. One says that homosexual practice is sinful; the other says that it isn’t. It is hard to imagine any middle position. It either is sinful or it isn’t. Maybe God has not provided a third way because He wants His church to adopt His way i.e. He wants His church to believe what He has said and be faithful to it. No other way is required.

Split

People hate the idea of a church splitting. For some, unity is even more important than righteousness. They would rather agree to sin in the church than see it split. Jesus, after all, prayed for unity amongst Christians, on the night of the Last Supper. A church split would be a terrible witness to a society that already has little time for Christians and would be confirmed in their view if it became apparent that Christians could not get along. On the other hand, Jesus did not pray for Christians to be united to sin. On the contrary, the Bible exhorts Christians to separate from sin. A split is far from ideal. United submission to the word of God is ideal but, in the absence of that, a split might be the only alternative. And it might even be God’s will. If Christians are to reject sin and they do that, that might be an act of righteousness that God will honour.

Decide but allow for continued debate

This option would mean that the church adopts one view or the other and requires that people adhere to that, but allows people to work for a change in the policy. In other words, the church would decide its current policy and expect compliance but would be open to changing its point of view. Advantages Clarity about the current position of the church An ability to change as the church’s understanding changes People are free to work for what they believe in Disadvantages Ongoing tension as the parties vie for ascendancy People may feel this is a conscience issue to the point that they cannot abide by a ruling they do not believe in, i.e. there will be rebellion or people will leave. A church’s doctrine should not be determined democratically nor as a result of political jockeying. It should be determined by faithful interpretation of the word of God.

Related pages

· · · · · · · · · ·
© Peter Cheyne 2017.
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
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