So, someone let the cat out the bag. The Church of Scotland’s Theological Forum Report on human sexuality had to be published early because someone leaked it. What is the report presenting to the assembly? Two key areas are being presented. The General Assembly will be asked to:
Authorise the Legal Questions Committee to undertake a further study on the legal implications of conducting same-sex marriages and report back to the General Assembly in 2018. *
Invite the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better.
So, basically, the Forum wants the CofS to sort things out legally and constitutionally so the CofS can perform same-sex marriages and it wants to apologise for discriminating against gay people. How has the CofS discriminated against gay people? Presumably by holding to a teaching that marriage is intended to be for one and man and woman for life. And that the only context for sexual inter-course is heterosexual inter-course in the context of marriage between one man and one woman. Or as the Church of Scotland’s historic confessional standard says: “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman.”
At this point we jump into the rabbit hole and discover the weird and wonderful world that is Church of Scotland theology and ethics. On the one hand the Church of Scotland is claiming that it seeks to be faithful in “upholding the fundamental doctrines of the Church” whilst allowing for “Constrained Difference”.
This is optimistic. On the one hand the Forum is calling the church to repent of what it regards to be “discrimination” against “gay people” yet at the same time it claims it will allow different viewpoints to co-exist. Yet this is inconsistent. If the church is discriminating sinfully against a certain people-group, how can it call itself to repent whilst at the same time allowing this expression of discrimination to exist? That’s meaningless. (Or political spin).
On the one hand the Forum says:
The Forum does not believe there are sufficient theological grounds to deny nominated individual ministers and deacons the authority to preside at same-sex marriages.
But on the other hand it says:
The Forum does not believe that such permission should be granted until there is assurance that the conscientious refusal of other ministers and deacons to preside at such marriages is protected.
So, if I read that correctly, in light of the whole, the Forum is asking the CofS to 1) not to discriminate and 2) to be free to discriminate by not marrying gay couples.
Whilst we should be glad that the Forum is seeking to protect the rights of conscientious and biblically faithful ministers, it is impossible to see how the Orwellian double-speak will not ultimately lead to problems. By embracing the radical LGBT view of human sexuality, they have already condemned the biblical understanding of human sexuality.
CofS ministers and elders who attend the 2017 General Assembly need to see what is really going on. Scriptural authority is being replaced by humanistic ethics. And the CofS is shifting from sola-scriptura, to an almost Roman Catholic view of authority, where authority rests not in scripture alone but the tradition of the church and the living tradition of councils. In other words, the Holy Spirit continues to speak to the Church a fresh Word from God.
The report says:
Yet God’s Word is found through as well as within Scripture, and Jesus himself promised that the Holy Spirit would lead the Church into further understanding (cf. John 16: 13). It is these new understandings that the General Assembly is attempting to discern in its consideration of the issue of same-sex marriages.
There you have it. The embracing of the new sexual ethics of LGBTism is the Holy Spirit speaking to the church. This section in the report is given in an answer to those who refer to Paul’s teaching on human sexuality. In other words, the New Testament scriptures:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men (1Cor 6:9)
So, according to the Forum, the Holy Spirit can speak to the church and lead the church into new truth. Even if this new truth contradicts the old truth.
I cannot help but point out that the Church of Scotland is taking a very dangerous path. This is a path that can only lead to divine judgement:
18I testify to everyone who hears the words of prophecy in this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:18—20)
The very last words of Jesus to the church are crystal clear. Don’t add to the Word of God and don’t take away from the Word of God. By denying what the Bible teaches and by claiming that the new path of LGBT inclusiveness is the Word of God to the church via the Holy Spirit, the Forum is calling the CofS to violate both commands. Consequently, the Church of Scotland is in danger of invoking both judgements upon itself. In other words, God will surely judge this path and those who follow it will come under judgement and forfeit eternal life.