Same sex attraction and the forgiveness of sins

Yesterday, the PCA general assembly passed the following resolution:

Overture 15: “Men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct, are disqualified from holding office in the Presbyterian Church in America.”

I know that this is a risky blog, but it had been mulling in my mind for many weeks. I waited to see what the PCA would do with it

Of course, we know that it is directed towards Greg Johnson. And I have read his book “Still Time to Care.” There was nothing in that book at all that was outside of the traditions and teachings of Christianity. I don’t know anything about REVOICE. All I know is how things are worded. I’ve read the book. I’ve read the overture. And it is deadly to the faith. I beg the PCA to reconsider while the candlestick is still there.

Notice the overture. It does not say, “Those who practice homosexuality.” Nor does it say, “Those who claim that homosexuality is not sinful.” In both cases, I would have agreed. Those who live unrepentantly in any sin should not serve in the ministry.

But it doesn’t say that.

I do not pretend to know the discussions going on in the PCA. All I know about the debate is that I read Pastor Johnson’s book. He is exclusively same sex attracted. He confesses that it is part of his “sinful nature with which he has to struggle his whole life long.” He has never acted on his desires.

He has also never been attracted to a woman.

If it is a question of terminology – that instead of just confession a lifelong spiritual struggle, he used the term “homosexuality”, then they got the terminology wrong. Most that I know of use the term “gay”. But it is just a word. It seems like disqualifying a man from ministry over a word is a little harsh.

The problem seems to be that the man confessed his struggle with sin.

So here is why I am sad. The PCA has just declared that THIS particular struggle with sin, even though it is never acted on, disqualifies a man from the ministry.

And at the same time, every Sunday, many of these same churches recite the creed together. “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

Perhaps at this point, they should, for the sake of consistency, add an addendum. “I believe in the forgiveness of sins except for same sex attraction.”

Which other sins will be excluded from the creed?

In Augustine’s day, there was a debate with a certain sect in the church who taught that those who denied Christ to escape persecution could never be forgiven and restored to fellowship.

The church strongly disagreed. This is why “I believe in the forgiveness of sins” was added to the creed.

The reason that this is a sad day is that a cardinal, basic tenet of Christianity was denied – hopefully unwittingly – in the relentless pursuit of “culture war” victory.

They won the battle in the culture war, but lost the battle for the faith doing so.

The only thing left for Christians is to continue to keep silent about their struggles, never ask for help, never confess sin or our struggle with our sinful nature, and remain alone and isolated in the kingdom of God.

But the result will be that everyone will remain silent, especially if they wish to pastor the church. Perhaps THEIR sinful nature will be next on the chopping block.

It makes me sad that this is where the PCA chose to go.

The Heidelberg Catechism states:

56. What dost thou believe concerning the “forgiveness of sins”?

That God, for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, nor the sinful nature with which I have to struggle all my life long; but graciously imputes to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may nevermore come into condemnation.

The church is to be known as a place for sinners. Jesus was called a “friend of sinners”.

We cannot be a “hospital for sinners” if we say, “Except for you.”

Either the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin or it does not. To deny the blood of Christ to one particular kind of sin is deadly to the church.

I pray that the PCA will reconsider their stance on this.


Filed under Gospel

10 responses to “Same sex attraction and the forgiveness of sins

  1. Bev

    Amen to all you have said. May the Gospel prevail.

  2. Em

    Beautifully written, beautifully explained, I agree. Thank you!
    It seems to me that if some sins keep a person out of the Ministry, or out of the church, then all do. How can we judge a person’s mind and heart, only God can do that. My understanding is that we are to judge only behavior, which includes words. Have they forgotten what Jesus said in John 8:11? It seems to apply here.
    A sober alcoholic that never touches a drop, a clean drug user who never again goes back to that destructive lifestyle, a gang member who reforms and finds Christ, what is the difference? I know amazing evangelists who are one or the other of these, and their understanding of their own issues enables them to reach people that would otherwise be unreachable and left to rot.
    We do live with a sinful nature, in an exceedingly sinful world, and if a sin, any sin, is not acted upon or has been denied and put away (we can call that reformed), then I do not understand the problem; I do not see a problem. What I do see is one more prejudice, more fear, more injustice, and more condemnation – from a church. Sad day, indeed.

  3. D. I blocked you for a reason. I saw what you said on Roe V Wade as well and deleted it.
    You are argumentative and so focused on right wing culture wars that you cannot see the gospel. I have urged you to repent, and you have not.
    I will not have these discussions with you because you are not concerned with the truth or civility. You are only concerned in expressing your rage at me.
    It is neither good for you, nor is it good for me.
    yes, I have thought through everything I am saying. I hold to the Heidelberg Catechism and the compassion that is in Christ.
    Fox News Moral Majority type rage is inconsistent with the gospel.

    I am not interested in winning a culture war. I am interested in following Jesus, bearing his reproach, pleasing all men in all things that I might win some.
    Since I continue to make you so angry, might I suggest that you stop reading it?
    GT has some great literature that might fit your perspective better.

  4. Tina

    I respectfully disagree wholeheartedly with you. There is nothing in this decision that says the struggle with sin is the problem, the problem is when people identify themselves with their sin and seeing that their desire isn’t sinful, when Scripture clearly teaches it is Romans 1.

    I pray that we will see that loving our neighbor is to tell the truth about sin, which leads us to tell the truth that our only hope for our sin is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    I would never want to identify myself with my sin, nor anyone else, this would deny what Christ has done and who He has made me, His daughter in Christ.

    Please read Ryan’s summary below. I think it explains it much better than I can.

    Overtures 15 & 29: Strengthening Character Requirements for Ordination

    The Assembly voted by a wide margin to amend BCO Chapter 16 to clarifying that officers,

    …must affirm the sinfulness of fallen desires, the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, and be committed to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions. (Overture 29)

    There were a few arguments against this language; they were largely centered on what was not being said rather than what was stated (e.g. no affirmation that God loves gay people).

    By a much more narrow margin, the Assembly voted to amend BCO Chapter 7 to include the following language:

    Men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct, are disqualified from holding office in the Presbyterian Church in America. (Overture 15)

    There were a great many arguments against this language asserting it was too specific or that it was being inserted in the wrong place in our BCO.

    I am grateful this language is here as it enables us to clarify our character requirements for ordained officers in a time of societal crisis on this matter. Because of confusion even in some church courts, I believe our BCO must instruct very clearly and with great specificity in this area to the courts conducting officer-candidate examinations.

    The Church has been troubled by those who mistake and confuse celibacy versus chastity, worldliness versus winsomeness, and “take up your cross” versus “live your life.” So we must be clear we understand the standard of holiness the scripture teaches is manifested in those whom Christ calls to serve His bride.

    Some of the arguments against the proposed language of Overture 15 asserted it would drive away those who struggle with unnatural affections. But we must remember this language defines officer qualifications and not membership requirements.

  5. Bill

    Makes we wonder what others will think who have sought and found support for other temptations.

    “Hi, I’m (generic) Bill and I’m an alcoholic”. (the founder of AA was named BIll, as I am).

    ” Hi, I’m Bill and I’m a drug addict”.

    Or there’s another ‘temptation’ common even to christian men today-it’s called ‘opposite sex attraction’.

    Hi, I’m Bill and I struggle with ‘opposite sex attraction’.

    60% of christian men struggle with ‘opposite sex attraction’. And the temptation is actual sin, right as defined in this resolution..

    a PASTOR I know, in a church I was a member of, said OUTRIGHT that HE STRUGGLES WITHI PORNOGRAPHY. He said this to help OTHER MEN who struggle, and OFFERED A SOLUTION of ‘other sex’ FIDELITY-he’s married.

    He installed ‘PURE EYES” software on his computer-becasue his STRUGGLE was SEVERE enough that he had to RESTRICT his use of the copmuter accordingly. He was RECOMMENDING OTHERS DO THE SAME THING-GASP!.

    a PASTOR-(GASP) a PASTOR in a SERMON admitted that HE STRUGGLES WITH PORNOGRAPHY. He offered a solution for otehr men who struggle-be celibate in this area, admit the struggle and put PURE EYES on their computers, too ENCOURAGING OTHER MEN TO CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE IN THIS SAME AREA-‘gasp!’. His WIFE helps him with this struggle-she has the only password-so he can’t USE his computer to engage in LUSTING AFTER OTHER WOMEN-GASP..but HE”S TEMPTED TO DO SO-GASP!!!

    HE has OPPOSITE SEX ATTRACTION that he’s actively (AND PRESENTLY) engaged in BATTLING-GASP…

    so his OPPOSITE SEX ATTRACTION that he BATTLES is NO DIFFERENT than the SAME SEX ATTRACTION another man struggles with.



    So that begs the question: Why we SINGLE OUT ‘same sex attraction’ ans the UNFORGIVEABLE SIN of AMERICAN EVANGELICALISM is just plain WRONG and even SILLY, brothers!

    Let’s go a bit further and take up another very obvious parallel.

    I’m overweight (ooh-I hear the gasps already).

    How did I get to be overweight?

    I actually indulged my flesh and ate too much, more than once. I didn’t gain the weight I now carry, in one sitting. it took months–years. I’ve battled my wieght my whole life-and don’t have victory. It’s a continuing area of struggle and I too often ‘indulge the flesh’.

    I guess we need to add this to the list of exclusions from the offices, too.

    but based on observation, we better take scales and BMI charts the next time we go to a presbytery meeting and start asking OTHER MEN to step down from serving in any office in the PCA, too.

    But then, we have the FINAL list of ‘depraved sins’ in the FOURTH stage of progression.

    Here’s THAT list:
    Rom 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; {they are} gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.’

    Rom 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

    This list is a bit more difficult to deal with.

    Romans 1 isn’t there to categorize sins so we can castigate people but to make it plain that we are ALL SINNERS in need of a SAVIOR, and to define how FAITH, a gift given to us in GRACE, leads us to CHRIST ALONE who SAVES US and more-gives us a NEW LIFE FILLED WITH HOPE OF HIS GLOROIUS RETURN_delivering us from the WRATH OF GOD by the SUBSITITIONARY ATONEMENT OF CHRIST JESUS ALONE, on the cross-with WHOM I DIED that i might RISE WITH HIM and LIVE BY FAITH while STRIVING AGAINST SIN NOW.


    Brothers-let’s rectify this error.

    Bill Everson

  6. wingingit

    Yet, 54% of church going men have admitted that they look at porn. I wonder if he had said that he struggles with the sin of wanting to look at porn, but does not look at it, would the reaction be different.
    I am betting they would have turned a blind eye and said, “Well, that’s ok, brother. All men lust after women, we are visual creatures.”

    Ah, the patriarchy where men must be manly in an exact certain way to be forgiven of their sins.

  7. Pingback: Here’s what happened… | My Only Comfort

  8. Mark Schaefer

    If we take the language of the overture at face value, it is saying is that any PCA minister who has said or written “I am a red-blooded man” is disqualified from office.

    One can argue that the point is about identification vs. struggle, but it isn’t for the reason that MANY Reformed ministers have used the language of identification with respect to the flesh. Therefore, it’s not primarily about identification, but about what is acceptable identification. It’s okay to be “red-blooded” – that is having a flesh full of lust! but not be “same-sex-attracted”. That is exactly what is stated so clearly here.

    I think a PCA member saying “I’m same-sex-attracted” – the point is not that they find their identity and value in their SSA, it is that it is a temptation that they expect to struggle with the rest of their lives. Just like someone saying “I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m a drug addict”. They aren’t saying they WANT that, but that it’s an ongoing struggle.

    Again, if we take the PCA approach of disqualification, a red-blooded pastor has admitted to lust, which Jesus calls adultery. Adultery is treated just as severely as same-sex sin. So, put up or shut up. We know this isn’t about Jesus. It’s Fox News and Protecting the Patriarchy.

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