Moral permissiveness continues to ravage society.  It affects religious denominations as well.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more visible than in those communities formed in Western Europe of the sixteenth century after separating from the Catholic Church.

After undergoing endless schisms and separations themselves (over 26,000 in 400 years), the remaining ‘mainline’ denominations have accommodated themselves to a greater or lesser degree to moral permissiveness during the last 30 years.

The consequences are sad, not least because many of these same denominations are seeking greater unity with one another as well as with the Catholic Church.  Instead, many are now being reduced to tiny sects while individual members drift off into secularism or embrace pseudo-religious.


The Anglican Communion shows no sign of knowing how to stop the slide into the morass of sexual permissiveness.

The scene at the ten-day triennial convention of Episcopalians (with a membership of two million) held in July in Phoenix, Arizona, was a now familiar one: desperate attempts to create an illusion of unity; approval of dozens of resolutions concerning the homeless, Indians, abused children and women, African and Chinese struggles for democracy, sanctions against South Africa, scolding of the President; and then, pandemonium with the raising of the sexuality question.

Some 3,000 people watched while Integrity, the Anglican pro-homosexual group, brought the question of ordaining active homosexuals to the floor of the Synod.

H.N. Kelley, writing for the National Review (August 12, 1991), described it as follows:

“After hours of passing the sex resolutions back and forth between the two houses for the necessary unified approval, as quibbling amendments accreted, the resolutions ended up so ambiguous that Integrity was able to claim them as victories.

“An attempt to pass canon (church law) stating that clergy “must abstain from genital sexual relations outside of holy matrimony” was rejected and there went morality down the drain.

“The resolution forbidding ordination of “practicing homosexuals” was defeated, and there went a million or so church members out of the door.”

Also, reporting from Phoenix, the RNS network quoted the Episcopal Synod of America – a new organization formed within the Episcopalian Church as a counter-church to the official administration – as saying that the Church is now “so radically divided on fundamental questions” that these are in effect “two religious,” (Wanderer, August 1, 1991)

There are, of course, more than two Anglican denominations because earlier groups such as the Anglican Catholics severed ties a number of years ago.

Among those present in Phoenix was former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, who sees “no early solution” to these controversies.  He told Reuters that these sex debates area a result of the 1930 Lambeth conference declaring that it was compatible with Christian belief for members to use artificial birth control.

Approval for contraception, said Runcie, “made the enjoyment of sexual experience an end rather than always having to be related to procreation.  It opened all sorts of new interpretations.”  (Toronto Star, August 3, 1991)

Later in 1930, the Vatican reiterated the traditional Christian understanding of marriage in an encyclical, Casti Connubii and rejected opinions such as the Lambeth decision as invitations to disaster.

The Vatican teaching continues to be bitterly resented by liberal of all varieties. Recently, in his regular column in the diocesan newspaper The Voice, Episcopal Bishop John Spong of Newark, N.J., met it head on.  “The failure of any Christian body to endorse birth control,” he wrote, “must be viewed today as an act of immorality.”  (Wanderer, June 20, 1001)


The evangelical Christian Minister who launched Operation Rescue in the fall of 1987, Randy Terry, has called on Christians to throw away their birth control devices.  He blamed the failure of Christians to stop abortion on their “child-rejection” attitudes.

Terry writes that those who use birth control are saying, “No, I do not want children,” and one hears the same excuse from women entering abortion clinics.

“At its core,” he writes, “birth control is anti-child and I am not only speaking about abortifacients such as the Pill or the IUD but any drug or device that prevents us from having children.”

The comments were first printed in the May edition of The Advocate, a pro-life monthly magazine out of Portland, Oregon.  They have since been published in other pro-life newsletters.


Most Canadian Lutherans today fall into two groups.  The 80,000 strong Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC) originates from the American based Missouri Synod and still insists on a traditional interpretation of the Ten Commandments.

On the other hand, the 207,000 strong Western-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), formed in 1986, from a combination of liberal and evangelical denominations, has embraced the philosophy of the permissive society, a process well observed in other Canadian denominations such as the United and Anglican Churches.

At the bi-annual national convention held in Edmonton in June of this year, Church delegates welcomed the homosexual lobby.

They issued strong proclamations against “racism, sexism, ageism, aboriginalism, the evils of free trade, and they adopted the view that “abortion is a serious matter which reflects the complex nature of the human condition.’”

In 1989, the delegates had still acknowledged – albeit reluctantly – that “abortion is the taking of human life…” and “we are human beings from the time of conception.”  But they were not willing to condemn abortion.

In 1991, the officially endorsed report, Stewards of Creation: Respect for Human Life, presented abortion as so “complex” that it is now clear that “we recognize that our unity in the church is not derived from our consensus on moral issues.”  Under these circumstances “abortion is the least difficult of disturbing options.”

In layman’s terms this decision means that ELCIC does not object to a woman killing her pre-born baby.

In Chicago, the Evangelical Lutheran church of America was preparing to express open support for abortion, much to the dismay of the ecumenical organization, Illinois Citizens Concerned for Life, of which it is a member.  The Lutheran task force included an abortionist and Lutheran hospitals in Illinois already have abortion facilities.  The report for the late August, first of September national meeting in Orlando, Florida, included formal approval for abortion.

In late July, the denomination announced that it was breaking off all ecumenical discussions with other churches “due to budget constraints.”  This coincided with attempts by ecumenical partners to organize a strong presentation in favour of the unborn at the convention.

But this attempt failed.  The convention went ahead and accepted the report approving of abortion.

Reformed Churches

According to the Christian Renewal issue of August 12, 1991, the much publicized sexuality report of the U.S. Presbyterian Church is still alive. (see “Religion Update,” The Interim, July 1991).

“Contrary to many reports,” the paper states, “the assembly meeting in Baltimore did not kill the disputed document espousing extramarital sex.  Neither did it adopt it.   Nor did it send it back for another year’s study…”

The issue will be kept alive for at least one more year when this report, together with other reports as well as earlier 1978 and 1979 pronouncements on homosexuality will be used as a resource in a general discussion on human sexuality.

This move, Renewal said, was made in order to avoid an immediate schism.  In 1992, the denomination hopes to deal with the issue “in a more biblical and pastoral way.”