July 2017

At General Synod there are no less than three debates or presentations which relate to controversial issues touching human sexuality. The Archbishops will be presenting a progress report on how they intend to proceed with a Teaching Document. There is a private members' motion seeking to prevent gay conversion therapy. Finally there is a diocesan motion encouraging the Church to find ways to affirm transgender people in their new identities. If the Church is always talking about sex it is certainly not because evangelicals wish to do so. In fact last year I was in a small group who graciously refused to get involved in yet further listening exercises devised by the Church relating to this issue. There has been plenty of listening going on to each other but apparently very little listening to the Lord speaking through His word.

Why are we in this situation? Vaughan Roberts, who spoke at our Together Service recently, has just published a book ‘Faith in a time of crisis’ with a chapter contributed at the end by the former Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen. After explaining the heart of the gospel message in chapter 1 he then goes on to highlight why we are in this sort of situation in chapter 2. Ultimately it is a symptom of the Fall and what happened in Genesis 3. God gave us a good world and rather than following his wonderful design for our lives we have rejected his authority. Our own desires have become central and are now the controlling narrative of how we live. If the Bible’s view on my desires or my body don’t fit with my own feelings and desires then clearly it must be the Bible that is wrong, we argue. And so we end up with these three resolutions going before the General Synod and with God’s word carefully side-lined and domesticated so that it doesn’t create a scene.

So how are we supposed to respond to this situation? Vaughan Roberts presents a compelling case by focussing on the wonder of love and acceptance offered by the Lord Jesus and how following Christ should lead to a life of growing godliness as we seek to reflect His character in our lives. The same gospel which tells us to come to Christ as we are, with all our sins, nevertheless also encourages us not to remain as we are, as God’s Spirit gets to work in us to make us more like Christ. Vaughan’s book is available from our church bookshop and it is well worth examining carefully and prayerfully.

So, how do we respond?

  1. We must seek to be as compassionate as Christ welcoming everyone. We are all sinful and each one of us needs to turn back to God our Father. As is often said, the ground is level at the cross. There is no moral high ground. We are called to love and welcome and point everyone to Christ.
  2. At the same time we must remain faithful to God’s word. The Bible often has uncomfortable things to say to us but God speaks with authority as our Creator and Judge. We simply have no right to rewrite or ignore God’s word. Out of faithfulness to Christ and His word we must therefore graciously challenge those leaders within the Church who would seek to take Christ’s bride in the wrong direction.
  3. We are to rejoice in God’s good gifts which include sex and friendship, intimacy and relationships, marriage and singleness, human family and church family. Whilst resisting the false assertions of a gospel without any sin or repentance we want to offer life in all its fullness.

So, please pray for General Synod!

Angus MacLeay

July 2017