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Doctrinal Matters: Bible Interpretation

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Cultural Effects on Religion in America

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Q.

What effect is culture having on religion in America?

A.

In the midst of heated discussion and hot debate, the Episcopalian Church met in Columbus, Ohio to consider, among other things, whether the organization should ban gays and lesbians from being bishops. In the media attention surrounding the Episcopal General Convention, Katharine Schori, the first female presiding Bishop in the denomination’s history, had much to say about her beliefs regarding homosexuality. She stated: “I am fully committed to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in this church” (Clark, 2006). Ironically, Asian and African Anglican bishops are so appalled at the stance of their American counterparts that they have cried out: “Don’t you believe the Bible you gave us?”

With such sentiments expressed by the prominent leader of the group, it is no surprise that the denomination did not pass the measure to ban homosexuals from being bishops. They did, however, institute a quasi-reversal of the non-ban and suggested that churches should “‘exercise restraint’ in selecting openly gay bishops” (Clark, 2006). Such a policy would make it more difficult for homosexuals to be bishops, but not impossible.

The troubling thing about such news is the way in which decisions are being made by those who profess to be Christians. The Bible explains that Christ is the head of the church, His body (Ephesians 1:22-23). Scriptures further explain that anything done by His Church should be done in accordance with His revealed will, by His authority (Colossians 3:17,23-24). It has never been the prerogative of any group that supposedly follows Christ to vote on whether an action is a sin or not. Furthermore, if someone is openly committing sin, it certainly is not the prerogative of “the body” to overrule “the head” and appoint such sinful individuals to leadership positions.

Inspired Scripture explains that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. In the litany of activities that would be considered unrighteous, homosexuality is conspicuously and repeatedly included (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 1:26-28). Not only should openly homosexual individuals be banned from becoming bishops, they should be publicly marked and withdrawn from (along with adulterers, fornicators, thieves, etc.) until they repent of their sins and stop committing homosexual acts (1 Corinthians 5). Any group that presumes to vote on such issues and thinks that such a vote alters the way Heaven views sin is sadly mistaken. The church that Jesus died to save has no earthly headquarters, finds unity only through obedience to the New Testament, and is to function as an obedient body of Christ. All religious organizations that refuse to recognize the authority of Christ as revealed in the New Testament (Matthew 28:18) will hear these sad words spoken by Christ on the Day of Judgment: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).

REFERENCE

Clark, Stephen (2006), “Episcopalians Curb Policy on Gays,” LA Times, [On-line], URL: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-episcopal22jun22, 1,1257035.story?coll=la-headlines-nation.




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