Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tautologies, overtures 009 & 020 & marriage in the North West Company

Usually in ‘Introduction to Philosophy’ classes students discuss tautologies. In a casual definition it simply means two differently worded definitions that are the same, such as “an unmarried man is a bachelor.” That statement is both redundant and true. But speaking logically it is, as my side dictionary, puts it, “a proposition or statement that, in itself, is logically true. It would not be true if we changed either the meaning of a bachelor or an unmarried man. But at least for the time being if we know that Joe is a bachelor we also know that he is an unmarried man. That is logically consistent.

But we live in a culture that tends to deny even the logically true statement. For instance, for two thousand years in western society the proposition that marriage is an official conjugal relationship between a man and a woman has been a logically true statement in itself. That is, no other statement was needed to prove that statement. And that is not only a logical statement it is also a biblical statement, the definitions are the same but they are also upheld by God’s mandate.

But in this post-modern world even tautologies are under attack. And when logical truths are under attack the foundations that hold cultural expectations together begin shattering. Several overtures coming to the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are designed to shatter the foundations of Christianity in general and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in particular. Overture 020 from the Presbytery of the Hudson River and Overture 009 from East Iowa are asking the GA to send to the Presbyteries for vote a request to remove the wording of marriage between a man and a woman to marriage between two people. This is of course meant to change the definition of marriage from an official conjugal relationship between a man and woman to an official conjugal relationship between any adult sex pairing.

The progressives in the PC (U.S.A.) believe they are dealing in rights, but instead they are changing the foundations of the western world as they casually attempt to throw away truth statements. And even more so, they are attacking the biblical understanding of marriage which is based on God’s word. It is sad to think that not only in the secular world is night falling, but also in the Christian world, in the largest Presbyterian denomination.

If the meaning of marriage is changed, all else will fall with that change. And if it is changed within a Christian denomination it will no longer be a ‘Christian’ denomination because that change will be the great contradiction that is laid over the word of God and the Confessions of the Church. But let me look at how the good news reverses the throw away of truth.

When I took a class on how to write a thesis the subject matter was to be about Native Americans. Because my real thesis was going to be on women and their rights I chose to write about the fur traders and frontier men and their Native American wives. The first part centered on those members of the North West Company that lived in the wilderness of Canada. One person, Daniel Harmon, was very interesting, a bookish loner coming from an intellectual family. Among the men he worked with it was generally acceptable to marry a native woman and then when it was time to leave for civilization leave her and her children behind.

But Harmon started getting letters from his brother in the colonies where a revival was occurring, undoubtedly a part of one of the Great Awakenings. He turned to Christ and in the turning realized that he could not leave his wife and children behind.

In his journal he wrote of his conversion:
I have always doubted whether such a Savior as the scriptures describe, ever really existed, and appeared on earth. … My intention, however, was, by no means to cast off all religion; but I attempted to frame to myself a religion which would comport with my feelings, and with my manner of life. –For several years past, however, my mind has not been at rest …As I was praying today, on a sudden, the faith, respecting which I was so solicitous, was, I trust, graciously granted me’ My views of the Savior; underwent a total change. I was enabled, not only to believe in his existence, but to apprehend his superlative excellency, and now he appears to be, in truth, what the scriptures describe him to be, the chiefest among ten thousand, and one altogether lovely.[1]
A group of the men began reading scripture together and the consequence was a new understanding of the sacredness of marriage. One of the men even wrote a letter chastising another who was planning on leaving his wife behind.

The good news of Jesus Christ includes the truth that marriage is between a woman and a man. To allow the breaking of that truth is to destroy the name Christian above the door of any denomination. Those presbyteries sending such overtures to the 220 GA are involved in the worst kind of destruction. They are fighting against the holy guidance of the Holy Spirit as our hearts and minds are opened to the “chiefest among ten thousand, and one altogether lovely. The One who stated, “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 his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh’?”

Picture is of Daniel Harmon

[1] Daniel W. Harmon, A Journal of Voyages and Travels in the interior of North America, Ed. Daniel Haskel, intro. By W.L. Grant, preface by Daniel Haskel, (New York: Allerton Book Co. 1820; reprint, no city: Williams-Barker Co. 1905). 196-197.


Jitegemea said...

Well said Viola. It is becoming painfully obvious that the narcissistic elements of the GLBT movement consider the devices and desires of their hearts to take precendent over the rule of God in their lives - even unto the rending of fellowship with the believers... The true schismatics in this are those who would rend the fabric of the church by such nonsensical selfishness making a mockery of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Anonymous said...

Jitegemea, has it never occured to you that perhaps that those working for full inclusion of GLBT people in the church do it because it is the right thing to do? The majority, in every way, that voted to allow GLBT ordination was made up of hetrosexuals, not gay people.

It would be the easy thing, the safe thing, the "go along to get along" thing, to NOT do what we believe God has called us to do so that the conservatives, who so often whine (yes, whine) about the 'pain of the orthodox' (all the time being utterly indifferent to the pain of other Presbyterians over the years) would not be 'pained'.

No one I know who is working for an inclusive church would ever mock the grace of Christ, and I speak of men who used to be AGAINST inclusion like Rev. Rogers and Rev. Achtenmier, who now support it and GLBT right in general.

We are working to do what God calls us to do. It is not always popular, and world is often against us. Making conservatives comfortable, and being popular or narcissistic, have nothing to do with it. It would have been a LOT easier to just sit and do nothing, especially for a lot of people who are not Gay, and who have paid a real price in their lives for supporting GLBT inclusion in the Church.

I don't like it when liberals look at conservatives and assume to know that conservatives act only out of meanness and spite. They cannot know all of your motivations.

It is unfair of conservatives, often wallowing in a selp pity party, to assume we do the work we do for the church and God because of narcissistic motives. It is also inaccurate, as most voters in Presbyteries saw, and then voted accordingly.

Atlanta, GA

Chas Jay said...

Gene, I find it rather peculiar that the MLP and other pro-gay groups always mention "their voices" are now being heard. That's extremely narcissistic for a faith where the one who we say we follow calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him. Following Christ is never about your voice or my voice but about the voice of Jesus Christ and His desires for the way we should live our lives is found in the Scripture, not by your "personal" experience. That same Scripture states that not all that claim to be a follower of His are actually so and it also specifically mentions sexual sins that you claim the rest of the church catholic has "misunderstood" for the last 2,000 years because of "homophobia."
The Church of Jesus Christ is not an "inclusive" one, as you continue to state, but one where those that follow Him are called to live a life following the narrow path. You use the word "inclusive" to justify that you can do anything you wish and god must allow for it. You in fact have elevated yourself to "god" and lowered Jesus Christ as your servant that must do as you tell Him.
You also claim that conservatives are indifferent to others pain. How dare you claim to know them and their motives. In fact, many of them also struggle with sexual issues as well but know that they are called to have discipline over their desires and follow the desires of Christ who stated that the first commandment is to love God with all our heart, body and soul.
Finally, you can live a celebate life but have chosen not to do so. That is a choice you have made and is no different than other choices that people often make such including suicide. You blame churches like Freemont when such a choice is made by a gay man and that is because of your narcissism. In another post on this blog you mentioned that you had an unsuccessful attempt of taking your life and in that post you mentioned that it was the churches fault that you wanted to take your life. That's a lie you use to bully others and highlights your own narcissism that all of your "bad" decisions are caused by others, not yourself.
You also state that you are doing what God has called you to do but completely deny that the orthodox are doing what God has called them to do and they can at least back it up with Scripture. You expect us to believe you simply because you state so even though it is in great conflict with the church catholic.
As you "celebrate" that the PCUSA has voted to remove ordination standards, you want to deny congregations, like Freemont, that very same choice of voting to leave the denomination. Christ never forced anyone to follow Him nor did he seek to forcefully take from others, yet that is exactly what I see by leftist in this denomination. Yet It's exactly what you "tolerant" ones that state they want an "inclusive" church but in actuallity only want a church that does as they dictate and anyone that disagrees with you is labeled "intolerant" and "homophobic." Name calling such as that is a tactic used by leftist groups to bully and humiliate others.

Viola Larson said...

No one is asking you to make the orthodox comfortable. Instead they are asking you to be obedient to the word of God. And they are telling you that they are in pain as they see the progressives moving away from the authority of the word, the Lordship of Christ, and the fellowship of the saints. Watching the church being torn apart because of the allowance of sexual sin is painful.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Larson, we are being obedient to the word of God. That is the whole point. The attempt to convince us otherwise serves no purpose at this point. The majority of our seminary professors, and the ordained who voted in our Presbyteries have heard the conservative arguements, and like me, do not agree with you. You have a God given right to your opinion, and I will fight for your right to it, but it is no longer the majority opinion in the Presbyterian Church.

Chas Jay, We are following God. It was ordained elders and pastors who voted recently, not Hindus.
As followers of God we are given voices by God with which to speak, and to call for justice with. That, and to praise God, which is the primary reason we have voices, is why we are all given them.
That is not narcisism. That is speaking out for people who have been wronged. Remember, 55% of those voting voted as they did, and I promise you, the majority of that 55% are not gay. They are straight people who heard your sides arguements and mine, and voted accordingly.

Accurate titles are not name calling. Asking a congregation to follow the rules as written is no different that conservatives who files endless suits over ordained gay people before it was allowed. If you want to change the dismissal process, you are free to begin a vote in the presbyteries that will make it a requirement that presbyteries MUST let congregations leave with their property.

That is how Presbyterians are supposed to do things.

As per the statement that conservatives are indifferent to others pain...how often on Mrs Larsons blog have you read of her concern for the pain of those who were not ordainable in the past because they were gay? How often to you read about the congregations that suffered because the pastors they wanted to call were not allowed to follow the Call of God Himself and serve?
Even the choice of words says so much... Sickening, was the one that sticks out the most in my mind. It was used to refer to a women and her child, who may be gay, and her reaction to him.

Mrs. Larson, I promise you....that hurt. That hurt, a lot.

This blog, and others, so often bemoans the indifference of liberals to the 'pain of the orthodox'. Where we have been guitly of this sin of indifference to the pain of fellow believers in Christ, we should repent of it.

But it is only fair to point out that there has so precious little thought or concern for the pain that the previous ordination blocks caused us that I can honestly say I have no memory of ever even encountering it.

Indeed, it was that lack of undersatnding of our pain, which was very real, that I have seen make many a presbyter reconsider how they understand this whole issue. Our motives as Christians are called into question, our honor and dedication to the Church also.

Trust me, it has been painful to endure. If it has made some of us indifferent to your suffering, that is indeed a shame, and wrong of us. I actually DO understand that conservatives are hurting, for I have conservatives whom I discuss these topics with regularly. I take no pleasure in it.

I just would like to see some acknowledgment that before the ordination blocks were removed, we hurt a lOT also.
Sadly, I do not expect it here. Time will tell.

Atlanta, GA

Viola Larson said...

Gene I am not questioning pain. My point is not that you didn't care about our pain. My point is that you do not understand that it was more than a vote. The orthodox see it as unfaithfulness, something that progressives do not understand.

If same gender 'marriage' (I do not like to use that term because as I said in my posting that is logically inconsistent) becomes legal in the PCUSA many more churches will be leaving because the denomination will no longer be Christian.

Chas Jay said...

Gene, you are so very arrogant and know nothing about me or my life. When following Christ, we are to be obedient to His commandments, which include discipline over our sexual desires. You don't get to "vote" the commandments out. Such is foolishness. Don't even equate it to ordination of women or slavery. Being a woman is not a sin and being a slave is not a sin. Sex with a person of the same-sex is a sin, and all the twisting of scripture you do will not change that.
As far as your "pain", spare me! There are many Christians around the world that are being tortured in prisons and being beaten because they will not deny Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, left Heaven and willingly was beaten and nailed to a cross for you, yet you aren't willing to give up having sex with other men whine about your "pain." Yes, you are extremely narcissistic.

Anonymous said...

Chas, your words tell me much about you actually. Far more than you realize. The bitterness and tone you take does not help your case anymore than the lack of empathy does I will add. Have you not read the arguments, made by our best theologians and Scholars of the Bible in our seminaries (the majority of whom voted for inclusion of GLBT Christians)? They carried the day over conservative points of view in the Presbyteries. Those in committed, loving same gender relationships ARE following Gods word and plan. You are correct, we don't get to vote on Gods word, but whether you like it or not, just as with women in the pulpit, we DO get to vote on how to apply it after God graciously grants us greater understanding. The comparison is, as one conservative female pastor told me, begrudgingly, a perfect one, and that is exactly what has happened.

Mrs. Larson, please understand, WE felt as strongly as you that the blocks your side put up to prevent many who were called to ordination was an act of unfaithfulnees to us, AND to God, for God had called those persons to serve, and they and those who love them had to endure decades of hurt and pain as they were unable to follow Gods call.

Both sides have felt the hurt. Many on my side (not enough) acknowledge yours. I never see you acknowledging ours. That was all I meant. You see something you hold dear and close to you, even as a part of your very identity, under attack. I fully realize how much that hurts, and believe it or not, I am saddened by your pain. They fact your side seldom even sees ours does not change that.

Respectfully, it is God, not you or I, who decides if the Church is or no longer is Christian. I know people who sinerely believe we are not a Christian Church because we ordain women, but, just because they sincerely believe it and can quote scripture about women being quiet in church, does not make them right either.


Chas Jay said...

Gene, as I stated, you know nothing about me. You never considered that maybe I am also much like you but I realize that in following Christ, I am no longer my own but His. Of course, you and your friends call OneByOne and those that minister to people with various sexual sins as being "dangerous." You and your friends want them silenced and removed from the PCUSA completely and such is already evidenced by the Covenant Network calling for anyone that seeking ordination now must adhere to your beliefs and deny the church catholic and Scripture in order to be ordained.
Finally, what you call "blocks" are what is actually called standards and requirements found in the Scripture.

Anonymous said...

No...they are blocks Chas. If you are one of the people One by One has affected, you will most certainly be in my thoughts. Where you are, I once was.
It is not dangerous in the sense that some "ex gay" groups are. I am told by several friends of mine who experienced One by One that Winter and some of the other people involved are nice enough...to the degree non inclusive people can be nice of course, and that they are not cruel, and do not engage in the discredited "treatments" that some organizations do that ARE dangerous.

They just point out this. It does not work, and after seeing the Church ordaining pastors who are gay and in committed relationships and marriages, they have moved past their earlier belief that just being gay and loving someone gay was a bar to not only ministry, but heaven and our Loving God. Mainly, they resent the wasted time.
I know I feel that way abot the group I turned to. (not One by One, but similar)

In any case, if you truly believe God does not want you to know love and fullfillment in this life with another man, no one is going to make you. Go ahead, try to live a celebate life. Christ did it, but we are not called to do it (again, better theological arguements have won the debate in the Church) just because we are gay. If you take THAT literal an interpretation by the way, you really are, even this now settled debate aside, perhaps in the wrong denomination.
In any case, I hope you find peace. With God, and who he made you.

We both follow God Chas Jay. You are correct about one thing, we are Gods, not our own.

If we who worked for inclusion were fighting for some selfish, narcissistic goal, why even bother with the church? That arguement just makes no sense. In the realm of the church, one must struggle for what is right and good in Gods eyes. Otherwise, what would we have won? Why work for a thing that a narcisist would think of little or no value?

Good luck to you Chas Jay. As I said, where you are, I was. So yes...I understand

Atlanta, GA

Chas Jay said...

Gene, how arrogant of you. Your response is condescending in thinking that I don't understand completely as you do.
Jesus called us to deny self and follow Him. Your movement is completely about your self and is lead by others such as yourself, unlike other true ministries that reach out for others. You are spending your efforts to change the church to become what you want it to be instead of putting on the altar your selfish desires to become what Christ called us to be. You state that "it doesn't work." Well, neither does AA work for the alcoholic that wants to drink.
You also don't consider that you could be the one that has limited yourself and is excluding those that don't do as you state (hence why you and your friends kept calling for voting to remove the ordination standards of chastity in singleness and fidelity in marriage with a spouse of the opposite sex. Had you heeded the advice you now tell me about being in the wrong denomination, then you would have left the PCUSA instead of working to get enough people at various churches placed to cast such votes. You also fail to see that in your "fight" that the PCUSA has shrunk to under two million and thousands more are leaving.
If you were truly as tolerant as you state, then you would have not called for the church to change for you. That's why you are labeled narcisstic because you care not what the church catholic adheres to as being sinful.
Finally, if what you do is so great then you should feel no shame in telling us how many men you have had sex with. I know you will say that is none of my business but you fail to see you decided to make it others business when you proclaim that the standards you sought to remove were "blocks." You want your cake and eat it, too.

Viola Larson said...

Chas and Gene,
I don't think either of your conversations are helpful on this thread. I am closing it so please don't post on it again.