Church denominations on both sides of the Atlantic are being forced to address the issue of same-sex marriage.
According to a report from a senior theologian, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) members face an issue that ‘would not have been imaginable just a few years ago’ — the issue of same-sex relationships.
The report from Albert Mohler, ninth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, cited a letter posted on the internet by Pastor Danny Cortez, who changed his mind about homosexuality and the traditional teaching on marriage, just before his own son ‘came out’.
Mr Cortez wrote: ‘I had multiple people in my congregation coming out to me as gay’. He says he did not know how to reconcile it with biblical teaching on the matter, but, after his son came out, his church voted on 18 May to become a ‘third way’ church.
According to Mr Cortez, this means, ‘We will accept the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, even though they may be in a relationship. We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgement. We will work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences’.
This move has, unsurprisingly, divided his church, with many, who could not agree with this departure from God’s Word, leaving. Pastor Cortez added: ‘Unfortunately, many who voted to remain traditional will now separate from us in a couple of weeks’.
No third way
But Dr Mohler has responded: ‘There is no third way. A church will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviours and relationships are sinful, or it will affirm them. Eventually, every congregation in America will make a public declaration of its position on this issue. It is just a matter of time before every congregation in the nation faces this test’.
It is not just the USA that is facing this issue. Across Europe, churches must come to terms with increasing public battles, as a result of decisions to endorse the world’s view of homosexual relationships in spite of clear scriptural teaching unequivocally condemning homosexuality.
In May, the Church of Scotland (CoS) voted at its latest General Assembly to pursue a ‘mixed economy’, namely that the church will accept homosexual civil partnerships but subject these same people to church discipline if they want to ‘marry’.
According to reports of the conference, one traditionalist, Jeremy Middleton, issued a counter-motion, declaring the scriptural position on marriage as ‘between one man and one woman, [as] the only right and proper context for sexual relations’.
However, his counter-motion was defeated and the overture — namely to progress with a mixed economy — won the day, at 369 votes compared to 189 against.
Picture: Dr R. Albert Mohler Jr