Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The GAPJC decision, sexual permissiveness and the times ahead

The Lord said to him ”Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” (Ezekiel 9:4)

Have you lately felt a mark on your forehead or heard the glide of a pen as God writes down in his book your conversation with other grieving brothers and sisters? (Ezekiel 9:4; Malachi 3:16-17) As I read news reports about the onslaught of sexual permissiveness and the final decision coming from the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC)concerning the Lisa Larges’ ordination case I am deeply grieved. The Bible and Confessions no longer have meaning for our denomination. It is as though some monstrous entity is walking through the land aiming at all that is righteous and good.

Several days ago Hans Cornelder of ChurchandWorld linked to an article “Students Walk out on Dan Savage.” The article was about the sex columnist who was asked to speak at a conference called Journalism on the Edge. Savage “was invited to give a keynote address last Friday at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention.” Rather than talk about bullying he made fun of the Bible and then ridiculed the Christian students who walked out. (I will place a video at the end of this.)

Later a friend, Robert Gagnon, linked to an article which truly showed the outrageous positions of Savage who advocates for non-monogamous marriages (among other vices). The article is “Married with Infidelities” and it is written by Mark Oppenheimer who seems to agree with Savage to a certain extent.

Add to this another article linked to on ChurchandWorld, “One of the most outrageous bills ever” about a pending bill, Senate bill 1172, in California which would permit:
lawsuits to be brought against therapists offering “sexual orientation change efforts” if the treatment occurred “without first obtaining informed consent or by means of therapeutic deception, or if the sexual orientation change efforts were conducted on a patient who was under 18 years of age at any point during the use of the sexual orientation change efforts.
And another article about another pending bill in California, “Bill would ask State Contractors: Are You Gay or Lesbian?” The author explains “The measure, Assembly Bill 1960, would enable the owners of businesses that contract with the state to identify themselves as gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual. It would not require them to do so.” The bill is backed by all Democrats plus the “the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and by the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce.”

The article also states that, “The Department of General Services currently is required to collect data on contractors by race, ethnicity and gender. AB 1960 would add LGBT-owned businesses to that list.”

In California, schools are already required to teach students about LGBTs lifestyle and history.

We are weaving together a multifaceted sexual configuration for our society, which includes progressive denominations. Such a configuration will suck the Christian orthodox underground. But we must not go underground nor be passive in the midst of such awful cultural darkness. (And here it is important to insist that already the pro-choice death culture marches in step with the new sexual arrangement of our culture.) To paraphrase Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do not go gentle into that dark night.” But, no, we will not rage against the dying of the light, because we walk in and with the Light.

We must walk within the light, with love and forgiveness, proclaiming the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not know what trials lay ahead but we do know to whom we belong.




Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him who endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb, 12:1-3)

52 comments:

Jake said...

"We are weaving together a multifaceted sexual configuration for our society, which includes progressive denominations. Such a configuration will suck the Christian orthodox underground."

When I read this my mind kept substituting "conflagration" for 'configuration.'

Doug Hagler said...

I also disagree with Dan Savage about monogamy, but I think his talk makes a lot of very good points that I almost never see addressed. The position that we should derive sexual mores from a particular reading of the Bible, but not mores about hundreds of other issues, slavery included, is very hypocritical. I honestly don't understand it. Well, to be more accurate, I think I understand it, I just don't condone it.

I don't think the reasonable response to is to dive once again into absurd hyperbole about the 'gathering darkness' in our culture, or the terrible times ahead, and so on. I just get the impression that people who think that marriage equality and ordination equality constitute darkness don't really understand what is going on in the world.

Child sex trafficking; mass starvation; poor people dying in wars they have nothing to do with; those things are darkness. Lisa Larges is the focal point of a small disagreement on a very small part of scripture, something Jesus didn't even both to speak about. The hyperbole just makes the anti-equality position look kind of ridiculous, at least to me.

Walter L. Taylor said...

In response to Doug Hagler, I wonder why you would disagree with Savage on monogamy. Why would you? Surely you wouldn't do it on the basis of the Bible, since you seem to assert that we should not go there for sexual "mores".

The notion that we disagree over "a small disagreement on a very small part of Scripture" says to me that the Bible is not very significant for you. This is not a small issue, but an issue that Scripture states can exclude one from the Kingdom of God.

By the way, Jesus did speak about this issue. He said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together let no one separate." That is the only relationship God has blessed, the only one "God has joined together."

So you are the one who is using up all the silly hyperbole.

Viola Larson said...

Doug you certainly deserve an answer to your response. "Child sex trafficking; mass starvation; poor people dying in wars they have nothing to do with; those things are darkness." Amen, amen, amen!

But when I read the Bible I find your concerns and mine written together in the scriptures. One just feeds off of the other and they all feed off of the great sin of worshiping something or someone besides the God of the Bible. They also feed off of ignoring his words.

Jodie said...

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother ..."

I do believe that saying is explained by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 to be in reference to Christ and the Church.

So no, he was not speaking about this issue.

Viola Larson said...

Jodie,
Jesus was not referring to the church; he did something that was amazing. He went back past all of the Rabbis commentaries and arguments on the issue of divorce to the very basic foundation that God created Eve (a woman) to be a companion to Adam (a man.)

Paul on the other hand is teaching about the respect a woman is to have for her husband and the love a husband is to have for his wife, and he looks not at Genesis for his foundation but as the beautiful image of Christ's relationship with his bride the church. And this too rests on the understanding of marriage. The relationship between Christ and the church is the great image God provides in his word. The beginning of marriage in Genesis is the practical intention that God himself provided.

Remember all that Jesus said “have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female , and said , “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:4-5)

Jodie said...

Viola,

Jesus and Paul refer to the same passage in the Torah:

"because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church."

Clearly it isn't only about the marriage between a man and woman. Could it rather be only about Christ and the Church?

It certainly cannot be used to exclude all union except marriage between a man and a woman, because Paul uses to mean Christ and the Church. A closer reading of Paul would suggest he even holds it as the prototype, the true meaning!

Whether it is used to only mean Christ and the Church, or to simply include it along with marriage beween a man and woman in 30 AD Palestine, two widely different relationships with a comon core, what this means is that we can't twist it to exclude gay marriage. Or any other relationship that might share the same common core of a marriage relationship between a man and woman. In 30 AD Palestine, or any other time and place.

Nice try, but it doesn't work. That's all I'm saying.

Sola Scriptura.

Viola Larson said...

Jodie I stand with what I said. And I am not going on a long winding conversation with you. And you know my rules.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Larson, in reference to your post about California and its education system, I just have a couple things that must be said.

Homosexual? Really? Except in a few very rare clinical exceptions, that has been removed from standard AP usage, and usage among people who write with good manners about others, for years. For comparison, it is not "Bible Thumper", or "Fundy", it is 'conservative Christian' or 'evangelical Christian'.
And, it is not "homosexual", it is, among well mannered people, gay or lesbian, or GLBT.

Next; what exactly IS the 'homosexual'(Gay) 'lifestyle'? That one just makes anyone who writes it sound dated and uninformed. A gay couple, one a minister, the other an elder, with three kids in the suberbs driving a volvo, belonging to the rotary and the PTA have a lifestyle. An athiest sex addict in a condo who drives a porsche and has no kids has a lifestyle. Being Gay is NOT a lifestyle...it is an integral part of who one is. As Dr. Spritzer has recently pointed out when he apologized for his earlier claim that his studies backed up the idea that gay people could change, would tell you.

Oh, and before anyone tries the quoting of scripture about 'change', it has also been quoted to support slavery, and to keep women quiet and obedient. Context and education matter here.

Context matters on this subject, which is why former conservatives like Rogers, Achtemier and Duba changed their minds, and the arguements of Gagnon (as well as his abrasive personality..just an observation made after many conversations with Presbytery voters, not an attack) actually helped the pro-inclusion cause.

Context and a mature understanding of Gods inclusive love mattered when the idea of ordaining women as elders was discussed first debated Mrs. Larson. You are an elder, yes? Well, the PCA would point out that, in their opinion, you have done EXACTLY the same thing with that issue that we have done as a Church with GLBT issues. They are wrong on both. You are wrong on one, and the PCUSA is correct on both issues.

Your constant repeating that being in a gay relationship is a sin does not make it true anymore than the PCA quoting the verse about women being silent in church disqualifies you from being an elder. It is a prejudice against women they are comfortable with, and use scripture to justify. They need to grow and move past that...just as you need to do on this issue.

Our Church has spoken, and it is no more abandoning God or scripture now than it did when it ordained women. The people who were comfortable with that prejudice had to improve their theology, or find a home where they could treat others (women) as less than they are (the PCA). I hope, most sincerely, that on this issue, you can follow the lead of the former, and not the later.

I wish you well, and all happiness, and I am saddened that this inclusion of a women who is called by God to serve grieves you so. I truly hope you can move past the misunderstandings that have lead you to feel this way, and find peace and the joy in service to God in the Presbyterian Church I have no doubt you are called to.

Gene ATLANTA

Viola Larson said...

Okay Gene I changed homosexual to LGBT just for you. I will answer the rest of your comment later as I have two appointments today.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mrs. Larson...but I would hope not just for me, but for everyone reading it, gay or straight. We are going to have to live together in this denomination (and society) after all, and ALL sides deserve to be addressed in the manner that they prefer. That includes conservatives, and I point it out to my liberal friends when they used disrespectful terms for conservatives in the church and society also.

I wish you well in your appointments and your day, and look forward to your response. I should add though that most of these thoughts were not mine...they are my restating the words of an associate who is an elder in the PCA, to which I added the facts that the PCUSA has heard both arguements (pro and anto inclusion) collectively weighed them, and one side, on both womens ordination and GLBT ordination, has won. Now, we just have to move on from that. Anyone trying to argue against GLBT ordination will be, at this point, like someone arguing against womens ordination. We are not going to change back on that issue either, and people anyone who would argue against that would just be seen, at this point, as someone who needs to move on. One way (adjustment of ones theological understandings) or...the other

In Christs peace

Gene ATLANTA

PS to all who prayed for my family after I had to leave a conversation here for several days after we suffered a loss, THANK YOU for your prayers and concern. I appreciate them more than you know.

Anonymous said...

Gene,

While I think your argument is a better argument against women's ordination than in favor of LGBT ordination (if they really go together), on a personal note, I'm sorry to hear you suffered a loss.

Best wishes,

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Linda Lee,Mukilteo,wa said...

Thank you for the reminder that God looks on our hearts as we walk through "the city".

There were times when my children disobeyed or acted
rebellious that I had to pray that God would be their conscience. I could no longer goad them to do what was right. I saw how my daughters would be guided by the Holy Spirit in ways i could never imagine.....by God ...to do and think rightly and to change their behavior and attitude.
Unfortunately, they also had the choice to reject the
Movement of the Holy Spirit. In a very real sense that is what has happened with this decision of the GAPJC. We each choose how we will walk through the city.

There is one warning from Romans 1 that people
sometimes miss that is appropriate here.
The result of dulling the conscience and being disobedient, rebellious, not repentant, and not agreeing with God is that He gives them up to continue in the behavior that separates them from fellowship with Him. They are slaves to their own choices, not free, not saved from their own behavior. Isn't that a picture of how sin affects us and the church.

The courts surely show where the denomination is going and their own willfulness will be their punishment.
The consequences are already being seen as the strength of the church is diminished by the choices made. Those who cheer the decision will be surprised at the nature of the denomination years from now when the full affects of what they have set in motion has come to be. The real legacy of the actions of the General Assembly and of the GAPJC will be like falling into a hole that they cannot get out of in the end.
I am one who is weeping and is "sighing"
And watching and praying along with you.

pastor thalos said...

Gene,

I just wonder why it is perfectly o.k. for the liberal wing of the church to flout the BOO when it pleases them and to fight to change things, but when conservatives desire to change things we're told that the fight is over and learn to get along.
Why is it that conservatives have to shut up and learn to get along, while liberals can do everything in their power to force liberal changes?

Alan Trafford said...

Well, that's the first time I've heard that the term "homosexual" could be interpreted as hate speech. When did that happen? Isn't it just a descriptive noun for someone attracted to persons of the same sex? It's in every major dictionary; I couldn't find any reference that regarded it as pejorative. Is the AP determining grammar now?

pastor thalos said...

Gene,

Honestly I am very tired of the analogy of slavery being thrown up as a red herring on this issue. It is actually a very bad biblical analogy. I would suggest the book Slavery Sabbath War and Women, which I use for advanced hermeneutics to better clarify the scriptural issue of slavery. And although you demean the work of Dr. Gagnon without addressing any of his arguments, let me point out his article as a good summary of why slavery is not a good biblical analogy: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoKrehbielResponse.pdf

Viola Larson said...

Gene,
I did not read your comment carefully enough or I would have had more to say sooner even though I have been away from the house most of the day.

First, how dare you tell me I am using the wrong language and then insult my dear friend Robert Gagnon. (What a double standard.) No you don’t get to cast that aside so easily by saying just an observation after talking to others. As a matter of fact that is sin—it is called gossip. Your observation would not hold up in court since it is hearsay.

Second, Rogers, Achtemmeier, (and we have already covered this another time) have managed to make their points by ignoring a lot of scripture. Including that God created Adam’s needed companion a woman. I do not know about the other theologian you have mentioned.

Thirdly, God’s inclusive love does not cancel his call to go and sin no more—in fact, that is part of his love.

Fourthly, There is enough scripture that hold up a woman’s leadership that the contradictions must be reconciled. There are no texts that allows LGBT people to be in leadership unless they repent and trust in God to help them.

Fifth, you are right my constantly repeating that LGBT sex is sinful does not make it true, but God’s word saying so, which it does, makes it true.

I am grieved for the sake of God and his Church, I am grieved for the sake of Lisa and for you also whom God loves and wants to transform by his great grace.

Chas Jay said...

Gene, I am sorry for your loss. My prayer for you is know God's very sweet spirit that cares in ways greater than our comprehension or understanding.
I also want to thank you for actually being most truthful in your last response to Ms. Viola Larson. You stated, "We are not going to change back on that issue either, and people anyone who would argue against that would just be seen, at this point, as someone who needs to move on. One way (adjustment of ones theological understandings) or...the other."
Thank you for such honesty. Now will you please stop lying to yourself and to us that you have worked for an "inclusive" church. You just told me that I need to either adjust my theology or leave. You and your friends use words such as "inclusive", "tolerance", "dialogue" and "respect of our great diversity of interpretation" as empty rhetoric when you actually meant that you would only be inclusive and tolerant to those that agree with you, that you never were dialoguing, but lying as a means to achieve the end result and that once you achieved that end result the only interpretation accepted is yours. You and your friends lied to us, as I knew you were. You and your friends have shown great hatred and disrepect toward us over the years. You have called us "homophobes, intolerant, heterosexists, closed-minded, ignorant, anti-justice, hatemongers." Now your "welcoming and affirming, inclusive PCUSA" is one where you just told me that we "conservatives" are not "welcomed." Don't worry, I left for a while and returned to my congregation of membership once session voted unanimously to leave the PCUSA. I have been encouraging other "conservatives" to prayerfully consider doing so as well because there is not a place for me in your "inclusive" church. I experienced such first hand at General Assembly. There will not be any tolerance shown for those that seek to live a life according to Scripture of a chaste singleness and fidelity in marriage to a person of the opposite sex as God ordained. OneByOne was already labeled as being "dangerous" and "should not be welcomed" already by the MLP's. They were "excluded" long before 10A was approved by the MLP's. I expect that there will be a call to ban as well as boycot (which is exclusive, intolerant, judgmental and arrogant action made by liberals to stronghandedly coerce those they disagree with to conform) any workings with those involved in OneByOne at General Assembly this summer.
Your "inclusive" church is going to start "excluding" those that do not march in step in identical theology of same interpretation, because you've now managed to take over another rapidly shrinking denomination that no longer changes the world for Christ but has been changed by the world and doesn't want to "offend" the world with powerful, transformational truth about Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gortpeople@comcast.net said...

I thought it was interesting that Mr. Savage's rant against the Bible was accompanied with absolutely no substantiation. His expletives and flippant negative comments directed at students walking out on his presentation was a demonstration of what true bigotry and bullying are.

Viola Larson said...

Gene,
if you want to comment here you most leave out any reference to my friend.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

I commend you, Viola, for your commentary on these recent developments in the PCUSA. I commend my friend, Gene, for his reaching out "across the aisle" in these ongoing debates.

Although Gene and I often have differed in our views on any number of issues over the years, I have always appreciated his tone and tenor. We have communicated, within the past year, about how some in both "camps" may "turn off" many on the other side by the tone and tenor of their arguments on issues.

In his comments on Robert Gagnon, I know Gene well enough to believe that he meant no animus towards Robert in opining about personality. In our exchange on the matter, I expressed my opinion about the tone and tenor of a certain pastor in east Tennessee who blogs from a theological position of what I believe is apostasy and heresy.

I do not believe that, within my lifetime (I am 54), the orthodox side will be driven underground. It could, indeed, occur. Regardless, I believe it is incumbent on us to give a winsome witness; and to "speak the truth in love".

It seems to me that the challenge we face in the church, and in the broader culture is how we can live and work together "across the aisle" on many vital issues. I say that even considering the fact that most orthodox ministers and congregations may, in fact, leave the PCUSA.

I think there may be many issues on which we might find common ground--in the areas of economics, foreign policy and sanctity of life.

In Christ's Peace & Hope,
David

Anonymous said...

Regarding Dr. Gagnon, for whom I have great respect ... being abrasive does not mean being wrong. John the Baptist was abrasive. Paul was abrasive at times. JESUS was abrasive on occasion. So were the Old Testament prophets.

There are people who may not want to hear the truth and so to them even God's Word would seem abrasive.

Better to be abrasive in advocating the truth than pleasing in advocating lies.

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433

David L. Bierschwale said...

I am new to this type of posting.

I just posted the above comments

David L. Bierschwale

:-)

David L. Bierschwale said...

I should also add that I am considering all the options re.: my future as a Teaching Elder vis-a-vis the PCUSA. I should have clarified that previously.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Viola Larson said...

Gene,

I am sorry but you are not hearing what I said. If you want to post a comment here you must leave out any reference to Gagnon-and I do mean it.

pastor thalos said...

Gene,

I would love to hear a response to my previous question. Why is it perfectly o.k. for the liberal wing of the church to flout the BOO when it pleases them and to fight to change things, but when conservatives desire to change things we're told that the fight is over and learn to get along.
Why is it that conservatives have to shut up and learn to get along, while liberals can do everything in their power to force liberal changes?

Anonymous said...

Pastor Thalos: You receive no answer to the liberal wing's inconsistancy because there is no rational response. It's just the way they want it!

Anonymous said...

Adel: I suspect it has something to do with the "inevitable movement of history" or some such quasi-Marxist nonsense. I seem to remember that the Brezhnev Doctrine said something similar.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Chas Jay said...

Pastor Thalos,
Thanks so much for your posts. I've enjoyed reading your comments and appreciate your faithfulness to Him. It's men like you and women like Viola that truly love people like Gene and me. I hope one day Gene will come to know that truth. I thank God for such faithful that never stopped loving me by telling me what I wanted to hear but stood firm in His word and told me what I needed to hear.

How many times did the PCUSA vote to maintain the ordination standards found in the Scripture of Chastity in singleness and fidelity in marriage (with marriage being defined as a union of a man and a woman)? After each of those votes the More Light Presbyterians and That All May Freely Serve never did shut up. They worked to get more like-minded people spread across the denomination. They worked to get churches to become "More Light" churches, a very arrogant name used to elevate themselves as being "enlightened" and to demonize those of us that disagree as being "less enlightened". They have been funded by monies from secular tax-exempt organizations as well as people that are not followers of Christ, let alone members in the PCUSA. They never sought unity in Christ, but worked for their own selfish folly, never caring for the church but only for their selfishness. If you do not agree with them you are labeled as an intolerant homophobe that hates. They compare a sinful sexual behavior to race and skin color. They equvicate their undisciplined sinful sexual desires with the biological sex of female. No where in the Bible does God proclaim woman as being sinful or an abomination, yet they foolishly convince themselves their "right ordination" is the same as womens oridnation.
What aggravates me more than just being told that our "interpretation" of Scripture is wrong is their reaction to those of us leaving. They have the nerve to say that I am working against the unity that Christ called us to. Christ never called us to unity in a denomination called PCUSA, but a unity in obedience to him. They elevate themselves with statements of "we never left." They never acknowledge that they never accepted those earlier votes but worked against them until they got their way. Leaving would have been much better than what they did. I wish they would have left and I dare say that the conservatives would have allowed congregations to leave with property intact unlike how they are treating orthodox congregations that have voted to leave the denomination. They don't respect the vote of those congregations just like they didn't respect the previous votes that didn't go their way. They only accept the congregations that vote to become "More Light" churches and share their "interpretation" of the Scripture that "guides" them. I find it rather telling that those that celebrate the removal of the ordination standards are very proud and boastful of what they've accomplished and celebrate any kinds of sexual behavior, just like we the Corinthians. They ignore that part of the Scripture as well.

Anonymous said...

Rev Thalos, Chas, my responses, seem not to get posted.
I promise you I did respond to your comments.

The touchiness on the part of some people is...interesting.

I will try to comment briefly here on a few of the comments by Rev. Thalos, and Chas. But, if I dare mention one of the causes that I have frequently heard, I suspect all my responses will be removed.

Well..here goes.
As I said in earlier Removed Posts, I have never said you could not try to change things by using the Presbytery voting system or the GA. I just correctly pointed out that the demographics, theological education, and patterns of the votes show it will never work. Younger Presbyterians are more GLBT accepting than older, and conservative candidates are hardly likely to run to our seminaries and congregational pulpits after this. No, sometimes a rubicon has been crossed, and while it has not been a flood, enough conservatives have left, many of them the most passionate ones by the way, that future votes on the subject will NOT be anti GLBT. This is just facing reality.

It was a conservative who pointed this out to me by the way.
He wasn't wrong.

The situation can be compared to that of an older man who joined my congregation when I was very young. He STRIDENTLY disagreed with womens ordination. His background and education convinced him it was wrong, and he really thought that the church should revisit the issue. After a while..a good long while, someone just told him this; (I paraphrase of course) "____this is what the situation is, and this is what most of us have agreed on. It is settled. Now, if you want to bring up a issue to the session and try to get an overture to the Presbytery, you can. But, it wont go anywhere, even if it somehow got approved as an overture. The votes are not there, and the Church long ago put this debate behind us." The Church was done with this issue. A few people still raised a stink over it for years after, but the majority were more than ready to move on, even if they had not liked the idea.

We are at that point on this issue. I know you don't like hearing that, but, most conservatives will tell you that if you don't want to take a progressives word for it.

We now are, and will remain, like or not, a GLBT welcoming denomination. The Presbyteries have spoken (enough minds changed..and enough conservatives gone..neither of which will flip back) and the seminaries and their professors have overwhelmingly let their opinions be known, and the Courts have, just a few days ago, made their views known. And that court had conservatives on it, as we all well know.

At this point, reality needs to sink in. We are not going back. Now, how do we go forward? That is the question we have to face. I was not (As the Conservative Rev. who knows me and defended me yesterday will attest) being gloating about this. I know you are hurting, and I take no pleasure in it. All I am doing is stating the facts on the ground, and looking at the landscape and wondering what the future holds for us all.

Chas..no, we never left. We stayed and fought for what we knew to be right. But, we did so all the time with an eye on demographics, theological studies and the way the topic was being understood, and an understanding of how the PCUSA worked. Long and short of it, with Gods grace, in more and more Churches, Gods will is being done on this issue. And yes, in time, it will be as normal to the PIPs as seeing a woman in the pulpit. For at least half of us, it already is. Simple as that.

I am sorry you sound so bitter, and so angry in your posts. I wish you well, and hope you can find a way to move past this anger. Where you are, I was. When you are ready, we will always be here for you.

My best to, and my prayers for you all.

Gene ATLANTA

Jodie said...

Gene,

There is one aspect of the demographics that remains to be seen.

50% of the population is female, but we are nowhere close to seeing 50% in the pulpits.

The demographics for GLBTs is less than 15%, closer to 10, maybe as low as 6 or 7%.

If the conservatives don't run for the hills, the number of churches that end up having GLBT pastors will be less than 1%. Maybe even none. Even if hypothetically we do become a GLBT welcoming community.

So, oddly enough, whether the denomination ends up having any measurable number of GLBTs in the pulpits is entirely up to whether enough churches leave the denomination to skew the demographics enough to make a difference.

The irony is that it's in the hands of the folks who oppose it to cause it to happen, by leaving.

Time will tell.

Jodie Gallo, Los Angeles

Anonymous said...

A fair point Jodie. And worth thinking about. But, I was thinking of the votes in the Presbyteries, not the pulpits. Chas wrote earlier that the "MPLs" had moved this vote. Well, that group and others did impressive (regardless of ones opinions on the outcome, it was impressive) work changing the hearts and and minds of the heterosexuals, not the gay people, who voted within each of the majority of those 173 Presbyteries.

Will the church ever had a disproportionately high number, of lower than the % of population that is GLBT number of ministers and elders? I don't know. And, from a purely faith based stance, I do not care. If only one person is rightly called to serve God and is gay, he or she must follow that call. If thousands do, and are called by congregations to serve, then it will be thousands. But the % does not matter...what matters is that only those whom God calls serve, but that those whom God does call, do.

In reference to female ministers, the same applies. If a woman is rightly called, she should serve...but, I know no one who would call for women to serve JUST because they are women, and no right thinking person who says "no" to women just because they are women. Why the % is not more relflective of the general population, I don't care to speak on, as I have no way to back up my thoughts at this time.

All my best, and prayers, to you all

Gene ATLANTA

Chas Jay said...

Gene, the large congregations (tall steeples) are leaving in droves as most of them are what you label "conservative." Many congregations left before 10-A passed because they were tired of this coming up for a vote each year. They were tired of the non-believers that were allowed to remain as "ministers." They were tired of seeing the denomination focus on every liberal political instead of focusing on the Great Commission. They were tired of being labeled intolerant and homophobic because they stood firm in the Scripture that sexual relations outside of marriage of man and woman is sinful. Now the PCUSA has no standards. I don't see how any woman in the PCUSA that approves of 10-A because with the belief that "God made them that way" can ever get upset if her husband tells her that he is going to see other people as well for sex because God made him that way. All of us men have the desire to have sex with anything that catches our fancy. With the same reasoning that 10-A was removed for LGB the same reasoning women should accept their unfaithful husbands. Any woman that doesn't accept what he says just doesn't love her husband and is intolerant of how God made him. That sounds ridiculous to me, too, but that's where straying from Scripture or claiming allowing for diverse intepretations to fit our own needs. That's what happens when Jesus and His word is taken off the throne and "I have a right" is the king. That's the whole problem when making Scripture a mere guide and your voice the authority that must be obeyed. I must believe you when you tell me God called you and deny Christ and His Word that I know to be true. Man fell because he decided to believe what another voice said. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and disobeyed God in the Garden. Listening to voices other than Gods was bad then and its bad now.
The removal of standards was not God's will. God's will isn't forced. God doesn't call for votes for approval. Only sinful man thinks he gets to vote on new interpretation of is explicitly called sinful What you and your MLP friends did was not loving. You never listened. You looked at "demographics and how the PCUSA works." That's deceptive and manipulative. God is not deceptive and manipulative. Sinful man is.

Jesus Christ never forced anyone to follow Him. Jesus Christ never celebrated getting his way and Jesus Christ never called for a vote. Jesus Christ never studied demographics or formats to manipulate for His way. Jesus Christ allows us to freely choose. Jesus Christ did not force the rich man to give up his wealth but allowed him to choose.
Jesus Christ said to die to self and in doing so we will live. Jesus Christ tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him. What you just described is what false prophets and teachers do.
How you assume that I'm bitter. I'm not. I'm saddened for you and my heart is broken for you. I never viewed the Church as something I needed to change for me. What you want is a Church where you are the head of it. I'm not interested. I love the Church where Jesus Christ is the Head. In His Church, the body of His followers see their own brokeness within, confess their sinfulness to Him and seek for Him to transform them. Your church seeks to transform others according to what you desire. Jesus Christ never said that His Church was inclusive. He said that He is the only way and that the path of following Him is narrow and few will take. Your church is one that has a wide path that deceptifully says it is inclusive but excludes those that will not bow to your voice. Your church won't last and is one of eternal damnation and seperation from God. The Church of Jesus Christ will live for eternity in His presence.

Dave Moody said...

What Chas said...
dm

Viola Larson said...

Chas Jay-Amen!

Robert Wm Lowry said...

I am tired beyond measure of individuals like some of the ones above referring to "the left" "the liberals" "the progressives" or some other "wing" of the church behaving in a particular way. Believe it or not, the left-progressive-liberal or whatever you wan to call it portion of the church is not monolithic in its thinking or acting.

One writer accuses the entire left of the church of flouting the Book of Order. I deny that most strongly. I disagreed with our denominational policy for more thana decade but during that time I did my ministry within the boundaries of our polity and worked for change.

I for one have been publicly and directly critical of Dan Savage of late. While I agree with some of what he has to say, I disagree strongly with much of it including his notions of "open" marriages and relationships.

If writers are going to rely on arguments that the "left" cannot argue from a valid position because they did not respect our polity, then those writers would do well to show at least a little respect for the polity that they hold so dear.

I continue to pray that we may one day move beyond the hubris on both sides of this and other issues.

Anonymous said...

If you are not bitter Chas, you sure fake it well.

As per my comments on demographics, well...I am just not afraid to face reality. I tell my Methodist friends they have to face them to, with a very different outcome likely for them. The glass is not half full, it is not half empty, it has 4 ounces in it.

As per the changes in ordination rules in the church, if you truly believe that those changes were made for selfish reasons, you are not looking very closely. The vast, VAST majority of voters in the Presbyteries were heterosexuals who, after looking at the case made by people like me, and by people like you, took a vote that often was costly and unpopular with their friends and neighbors.

They did what they did because they believe, after looking at all the evidence, that this is what God has called us to do.

Oh, and those churches that have left..still in the lower singel digits as a percentage. My demographic point stands. The church will people over this, but not a ajority, not even a large minority.

One does not vote on what will be popular. One votes in Presbytery on what one believes God calls us to do.

And if people are tired of being labeled as something, the way to stop is the correct labeling, is to change oneself, raise your standards, and move past the character flaws in question.

One last point, and I pray that Mrs. Larson will leave this up, because it is very indicative.
For about a year +, we have been a gay welcoming denomination. For Decade after decade we have been a church that supports Abortion rights. Our money collectively goes into a health plan that pays for it...for our ministers wives, their daughters, for their own abortions. Conservatives see this as Murder.

the Murder of Children.

Where was the "tall steples leaving in mass!" over that?
Where were the meeting held to set up a para church, or a new denomination over this topic...you know...what conservatives see as the killing of innocents?

Oh yeah, I remember, didn't happen.
Oh, some lip service here and there, but, year after year, the GA kept being pro abortion rights, and the PIP's did not freak out.

But, that just child murder as conservatives see it. This..this is truly terrible! A woman with a wife and two adopted kids, preaching in a pulpit she was called to by that session...and with a degree from a seminary no less! Everyone proclaim the awfulness of it and plan to leave (well..if we get to keep the property, most of us don't want to leave the building behind) beause this is a reason to leave ones denominational home!"

Child murder (as conservatives see it)...well...'we can quietly disapprove but deal with that'

Gay pastors "we must flee!"

the reason? as most of us who are honest with ourselves will admit, it is becaus of the 'ick' factor on most conservatives part.

And for some people...very sadly, self hatred.

The result, and the comparison, for any outsiders who wonder if this reaction to calling clergy who are GLBT, with a willingness to put up with what the conservatives see as the murder of innocents...

Speaks for itself Chas.

My best, and my prayers, for you all
Gene ATLANTA

Viola Larson said...

Robert,
I agree with you that the progressives (and I use that name rather than liberal) are not monolithic; however I believe there is some sameness on sexuality & Christology. There are differences on abortion and Israel. I don’t know where you stand on abortion or Israel but I am certain that on the ordination of LBGT persons and same gender marriage you agree with most progressives, and I am guessing that you do not believe that all need to come to Christ for salvation. Please correct me if I am wrong.

As far as the Boo is concerned of course many progressives followed the correct polity, however many did not. In my own Presbytery two gay men were ordained before the change (One was a commissioner at the last GA) and at least one church prepared to allow their pastor to marry same gender couples when it was allowed in California. And I know of a Church in S.F. that did the same. At the same time all of this was happening the Synod of the Pacific and the minster who ordained the gay men made sure that the orthodox in this presbytery were not allowed to set out any particular standards. If it happened here I am fairly certain it happened across the country.
I am glad that you are critical of Savage—but I am also fairly certain that many more Savages will arise to torment the orthodox young people who are trying to be faithful to God’s word.

Viola Larson said...

Gene,
This, “And if people are tired of being labeled as something, the way to stop is the correct labeling, is to change oneself, raise your standards, and move past the character flaws in question,” is an insult and you know it. Holding to the word of God is not a character flaw.

But I wanted to address another point you raised in your comment; that one about abortion. And you did notice that I placed abortion along side sexual sin in my posting. In fact one orthodox pastor in particular has noted that the PCUSA has been in apostasy for forty years at least since they allowed abortion. That was Scates of Highland Presbyterian Church in Texas.
I think if you were in conversation with most of the orthodox in the PCUSA they would agree that the allowing even the encouragement of abortion in the PCUSA has been extremely grievous. But one of the differences is that we are now concerned with leadership—the ministry of the word and the giving of sacraments. And even more so the passage of 10A is like the final insistence that one can use the word of God anyway you want. With the decision of GAPGC all confessional and biblical texts are open to private interpretation, therefore every doctrine of the denomination is up for grabs, including the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and even his deity.

But I want to go a step further, In the Old Testament, in the Prophets—and I am reading Ezekiel at the moment—God’s judgment of his people includes several issues all steming from idolatry. The main issues are generally the killing of children, sexual sins and greed, all coming from the worship of false gods which can include the self. At the moment the PCUSA is involved in all. And when they are all gathered up like that we all long to leave, even those of us who feel that God’s will for us is to stay.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Larson

I truly believe you are as agrieved about Abortion as you say, as your personal views have never waivered on that subject.

As it happens, I am in frequent conversation with conservatives in the church over the issue of abortion...it is a topic they think I am wrong about, but no one want to bar me from being an elder over it...even though they think I am advocating the murder of children.

That said, it is beyong question that this denomination stands where it does on abortion. As you reported a pastor to have stated, by conservative understandings, the denomination has been in apostasy for 40 years....but, where was the upswell, the anger, the "oh my goodness this is a bridge to far" over that issue? A thing conservatives see as the killing of children?

Was their anger? Some. Did a group form? PPL., which has very dedicated members, but is hardly the equivalent of planning a new denomination, lot of new ABC and DEF groups and plans and talking of reallignments and leaving with property.

The world has seen which topic has stirred up the hornets nest in the Presbyterian Church. For 40 years, conservatives have stayed after effectively losing the battle on abortion rights.

Within a year or so of being a Gay welcoming denomination, the hornets are all stirred up. One can make theological arguements about the confessions and Biblical texts, and sucessfully conflate the various topics conservatives are angry about. I do not doubt your personal integrity Mrs. Larson. It all bothers you.

But the fact remains...what topic was "the bridge to far" for most conservatives (way before the last ruling...I refer to 10A)?

An honest observer can see what has lead to the most outrage. More so than what the conservative see for 40 years as the killing of innocents, it was the Church moving to allow GLBT ordination.

One topic could be dealt with for 40 years. The other, leads to a (small) exodus as a group, and lawsuits in multiple states.

It just tells the world what the conservatives priorities are...and, sorry, but also, what its motivations are. "We can live with that, but not that plus this", rings a bit hollow.

And it shows what conservatives have been willing to endure, and what they wont.

I admired one old conservative elder in VA who told me this in a moment of utter honesty. "I just think its (just being gay) creepy and gross, ok, I admit it." He was anti abortion rights by the way, but, had somehow managed to stay in the denomination with that issue.

I really, really admired his honesty about it.

Upon my life, and all I hold true, I promise you I meant no insult in my advice on how to stop being called what conservatives are sometimes called. I meant it, but no insult was meant.

I will leave you with thanks for letting me post, and one last thought. In every blog you have entered, I cannot remember one time where I have read something that lead me to see that you even realize that we on the left firmly, sincerely, and I truly believe correctly see ourselves as holding to the word of God, and trying our best to honor and give Him glory. It would have been easier not to have these battles, after all. Our own desires had naught to do with it.
Most of those who voted as they did are not affected by this, as I hope you realize.
We worked for this because we believe it is what God has called us to do. I hope most sincerely that you do know this.

Thank you, and God bless

Gene ATLANTA

Jodie said...

Viola,

This comment is a variation of the "there goes the neighborhood" argument:

"With the decision of GAPGC all confessional and biblical texts are open to private interpretation, therefore every doctrine of the denomination is up for grabs, including the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and even his deity."

I honestly don't see it.

It really underscores Gene's thesis and question. Why is this the line the conservatives can't cross? They have crossed every other. Why is this the one that changes everything?

It really doesn't make sense.

It's a different way of saying my own thesis, which is that (discounting three sigma marginal cases) the rest of the Church does not have an issue with the integrity or the authority of Scripture any more than it ever has.

It has an issue with the credibility of the conservatives.

For the reasons Gene lays out.

Even more troubling is the fact outside observers, as a consequence of all this rock throwing, deny even the credibility of the Bible itself.

That's everyone's fault. IMHO

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

PS.: As I heard it explained recently, it was observed 1600 years ago that they stopped throwing Christians to the lions because it was more effective to throw them at each other. Funny, but still true.

Viola Larson said...

Gene and Jodie,
you are just repeating yourselves. I have already stated my opinion and do not feel the need to repeat them.

Jodie said...

Viola,

You have repeated your opinion many times. We all know it well.

But you have never tried to answer the question.

That's the frustration.

Jodie

Greg Scandlen said...

Gene is absolutely correct that the PCUSA's position on abortion should have been enough to cause an uproar, though I have traced it back only to 1992. It is the most radical pro-abortion (not pro-choice) position of any group I have been associated with. Once I found out about this (see my post at http://gmscan.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/pcusa-and-abortion/ ) I knew I could no longer be a member of the denomination.

I had hoped that our church would leave but that does not seem to be in the cards, so I am asking our session to be dismissed from membership.

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Chas Jay said...

Jodie,
Viola, Greg, me and all others on here are not called to answer to you but to God. You know the answer and you play semantic games of twisting much like the serpent in the Garden. You are just throwing stones at a faithful, loving woman named Viola that graciously allows you to post on her site.

Anonymous said...

Years ago my sister was engaged to a pathological liar. Before this truth came out, many of us had deep misgivings about the man, but found it difficult to articulate the why of our feelings. Thankfully, my sister eventually put the pieces together and once she did the pattern of lies was overwhelming to the extent that we all wondered how we had missed it for so long. What was curious to me was that it was something small and innocuous which finally opened her eyes.

Looking back, support for the taking of innocent human life should have caused a much bigger stir among conservatives, but we still had hope that we could effect change. That hope is now largely gone.

As we see it, the process regarding the homosexual question has revealed a court system determined to uphold the progressive agenda and a political system which decreasingly represents the position of the people in the pews the higher up one goes. I could go on, but the point is that it has been through the fight over the homosexual question that we've lost the hope that the PCUSA could be renewed to its biblical foundation.

The last straw is not necessarily the most important straw, it's just the last one.

Bruce Byrne
Concord, Ca

Chas Jay said...

Bruce,
Thank you for sharing. You do make one point that is our own sin - the orthodox/conservative hoped they could effect change. That's sinful arrogance just as much and something we must confess to God. We were given instructions by Paul as well as Jesus calling for us to remove those that persist in sin and celebrate it from the body. We thought we could change them and disobeyed. Because we weren't firm in the past they expect us to continue in a whimpy milquetoast way because we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against principalities unseen. We made the mistake of thinking we had the power to change them. We have no such power. Jesus Christ is the only one that has the power to transform and He only does it for those that freely choose Him and seek to obey Him and His word.
I grew up Southern Baptist and I don't know why God led me to a Presbyterian church. I confess that I didn't care at all for the PCUSA because the denomination is known for it leftist political stand and no longer for spreading the gospel. Fortunately, we have a good and gracious savior that changes me as well and opened my eyes and ears to bless me with his faithful, obedient to His word that are Presbyterians such as yourself and Viola.

Jodie said...

Chas,

Did you really just compare me to the serpent in the Garden of Eden?!

Seriously???

I'll say this for the sake of Greg and Viola: It's an honest question.

I have asked it in one form or another before. I have never heard a conservative actually try to answer it. If I knew the answer I would not ask. I suppose it's possible the conservatives don't really know the answer.

But I am tired of being insulted for asking it. Or given the silent treatment. Or being summarily deleted.

Viola Larson said...

Jodie
again "With the decision of GAPGC all confessional and biblical texts are open to private interpretation, therefore every doctrine of the denomination is up for grabs, including the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and even his deity.

But I want to go a step further, In the Old Testament, in the Prophets—and I am reading Ezekiel at the moment—God’s judgment of his people includes several issues all steming from idolatry. The main issues are generally the killing of children, sexual sins and greed, all coming from the worship of false gods which can include the self. At the moment the PCUSA is involved in all. And when they are all gathered up like that we all long to leave, even those of us who feel that God’s will for us is to stay."

I am now closing the thread.