Some 30 years ago, the United Church of Canada was just beginning her long discussion on homosexuality, which culminated in their recent acceptance of same-sex “marriage.” Back in the early 1970s, I remember reading in the church’s official magazine the call for tolerance and the call to reappraise the message of Scripture on this subject.
At this present moment, Anglicans from around the world are attending a major conference in Tanzania. With some 77 million members, Anglicans represent the third-largest Christian denomination in the world. One of the key issues confronting the conference is how the denomination is going to respond to the homosexual push for acceptance in the churches.
There are many within the evangelical community who believe that while the struggle to accommodate same-sex sexuality may decimate the liberal churches, it is not an issue over which evangelicals need to be concerned. This simply is not true.
There are already voices within the evangelical community (Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren, to name but two) who are openly saying many of the same things that the United Church was saying years ago. They are calling for a watering down, if not an outright abandonment, of biblical truth in order to better fit in with the culture.
This is why it is healthy for us to observe what is taking place in the Anglican church. For at the conference in Tanzania, Anglicans who hold to biblical truth are in a life-and-death struggle for the soul of the denomination with those who want to accommodate worldly standards and ignore the testimony of Scripture. Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia is a conservative cleric. Recently, in an address, he said the following: “As you know, I have taken the view from the beginning that the crisis over human sexuality is a very deep one, indeed. In the end, it is also a crisis over biblical authority and its clarity; hence, the importance of biblical theology. Here is a crucial sticking point. To accept various contemporary ways of reading Scripture will leave us vulnerable at all points. We will not defend the uniqueness of Christ if we will not defend the plain teaching of Scripture on human sexuality.”
Jensen has hit the nail on the head. The issue of homosexuality and the church is, at bottom, a crisis of biblical authority. If Christians refuse to contend for clear biblical truth on sexuality, it is because they have in effect given up on revealed truth on the subject. And, by so doing, they greatly undercut the ground for defending any and all Christian doctrine based on Scripture.
Popular culture and “prophets” from within are telling evangelicals that their light from Scripture on homosexuality is, in fact, darkness. And that to speak and promote biblical teaching on this subject is bigotry and hate. But, it is the Gospel alone that gives hope to many who want to leave their lifestyle (“and such were some of you; but you were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”: 1 Cor. 6:11). Therefore, when we draw back from the defence of any scriptural truth, we ultimately smash hope for all who have been captured by sin.
Though it may cost us, for the sake of the King who called us and for love of needy people, evangelicals must stand for biblical truth in the midst of this generation.
Royal Hamel is an Interim columnist and executive director of Light the Darkness Ministries, a ministry calling the Christian church to fulfill her calling. This column originally appeared as a Feb. 19 e-mail dispatch from LDM and is reprinted with permission.