Thursday, August 12, 2010
The ACSWP on our tolerant youth and Belhar: yes it's about sex!
The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and their adviser Chris Iosso has published their latest Salt & Light. It is their Post General Assembly issue. The paper is a free on line subscription and a friend sent me his on-line copy. I have now subscribed. There are several items that need to be addressed including the Middle East. But the subject I want to address in this posting concerns the Belhar Confession. The author writes:
“And adding the Belhar Confession to the Book of Confessions was strongly supported and will now also go to the presbyteries. (One overture opposing Belhar [the Sacramento Overture] cited its possible application to GLBT issues, where categories or limited definitions of people can be used to exclude, as racial categories did during apartheid). The issue in the presbyteries will then be partly generational: does the church want to oppose the current generation’s increasing tolerance?”
So now supposedly the debate about Belhar turns on age versus youth because supposedly youth are more tolerant then older people. And supposedly, in the Church, the ordination of gays and lesbians as well as same gender marriage has to do with competing levels of tolerance rather than Scripture or the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Everywhere one turns in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) there is a drive to pass Belhar for the sake of, not differing ethnic groups, but for the purpose of turning the Book of Confessions into an avenue that allows, even blesses, sin. Belhar was never intended as a document to use in that manner but it will be used that way in the PCUSA.
I seem to be constantly turning to Bonhoeffer as a way of pointing out truth but on both youth and sexual ethics Bonhoeffer has some important corrections to make to the ACSWP’s newsletter. I have written before about the confession he wrote for the Confessing Church of Nazi Germany in his book Ethics. That was a book he wrote in the midst of horrors.
On the sexual issues plaguing Germany’s society and church he wrote:
"The Church confesses that she has found no word of advice and assistance in the face of the dissolution of all order in the relation between the sexes. She has found no strong and effective answer to the contempt for chastity and to the proclamation of sexual libertinism. All she has achieved has been an occasional expression of moral indignation. She has thus rendered herself guilty of the loss of the purity and soundness of youth. She has failed to proclaim with sufficient emphasis that our bodies belong to the Body of Christ." (114-15)
On youth Bonhoeffer wrote:
The Church confesses herself guilty of the collapse of parental authority. She offered no resistance to contempt for age and idolization of youth, for she was afraid of losing youth, and with it the future. As though her future belonged to youth. She has not dared to proclaim divine authority and dignity of parenthood in the face of the revolution of youth, and in a very earthly way she has tried ‘to keep up with the young.’ She has thus rendered herself guilty of the breakup of countless families, the betrayal of fathers by their children, the self-deification of youth, and the abandonment of youth to the apostasy from Christ.” (114)
There is not much more on these two subjects one can say about our post-modern Presbyterian denomination than the confession that Bonhoeffer offered the Church of the Nazi era. Do we as members want to encourage a tolerance among youth that is anti-Christian? Are we so afraid of losing them that we will allow them to apostatize from Christ? Even if we lose, even, as Barth once said, even if we are “thinned down till it be a tiny group and go into the catacombs,” we need to keep teaching and proclaiming to them and to ourselves the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of his word.
 I will write on the Middle East in another posting, but it should be noted that the Newsletter makes a connection between Belhar and the Middle East.
 The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), in her higher offices, at this moment is failing to offer even an expression of moral indignation.