This is a tough statement. I don’t pretend to be the judge of brothers and sisters who confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I simply see myself as one member, among many, dedicated to the teaching of Jesus Christ. We are all called to exercise careful discernment and be accountable to the truth of Holy Scripture.
Some in the church catholic have been seeking to affirm homosexual relationships for decades. But in the last decade there has been an exponential rise in those Christian leaders, pastors, and academics who have affirmed homosexual marriage. They do so by ignoring the teaching of Holy Scripture and the historic theological traditions of the church. Those who seek to affirm homosexual relationships have suggested that the church catholic does not have a clear ecumenical consensus regarding human sexuality. In other words, there is nothing with the equivalent authority of the Nicene Creed that addresses humanity sexuality.
All of the ecumenical creeds were developed in response to heretical teaching. The Nicene Creed was developed in response to Christological heresies of the 3rd and 4th centuries, particularly Arianism. The church has been content to rely upon the authoritative teaching of Scripture until heretics deny scriptural authority with dubious hermeneutics or outright deceit. The reason that there are no ecumenical creeds regarding human sexuality is because the church catholic, following the teaching of Scripture, has spoken with unanimity regarding sexual immorality – fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents a clear statement that until recently has been affirmed by all Christians – Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Pentecostal.
Sacred Scripture . . . presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered . . . contrary to natural law . . . under no circumstances can they be approved (2357. For the full statement click here).
This statement is being challenged by church leaders of all tribes, particularly in the historic Christian western world – Europe and North American. Therefore, it’s time for an ecumenical creed that clearly presents the teaching of Holy Scripture. However, since the Protestant Reformation, and ensuing multiple schisms, a truly ecumenical creed is unlikely. That is why I recently signed The Nashville Statement. We must begin somewhere.
As a long-time pastor I’ve had to deal with many issues of sexual immorality. Following Scripture, I have sought to counsel and confront those involved with much grace. Sexual temptations and disorders are the common plight of fallen humanity. Christian pastors should always treat sinful humans with respect, compassion, and empathy. Even as I gladly affirm my support for legal marriage being defined as one man and one woman, I do not favor the criminalization of fornication, adultery, or homosexuality. As pastor, I have welcomed all sinners into the life of the church with exception of leadership roles – specifically teaching and preaching.
My concern here is specifically addressed to leaders within the church that resist or deny the teaching of Scripture regarding sexual immorality. To be a teacher in the church – local congregation or academic institution – is a position of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). It is also a position of double accountability. Jesus warned of grave consequences for those who cause his “little ones” to stumble in the Faith (Mark 9:42). Paul said that to wound the conscience of a brother or sister in Christ is to “sin against Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:12). James warned, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (3:1). Those who refuse to be faithful to the teaching of Scripture are nothing less than false teachers, deceived in their own minds, who have fallen into apostasy and introduced destructive heresies which lead their followers to destruction (Jeremiah 14:14; 27:15; 2 Peter 2:1).
Those who are called to lead the church in preaching and teaching must faithfully address all issues of sexual immorality – fornication, adultery, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality lest we find ourselves, and the people we lead, outside of the Faith.