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Homosexuality and Christian Ministers 

The Issue 

The Baptist Union has circulated a survey about sexuality: 

The specific issue under discussion is as follows: 

Our current Ministerial Recognition Rules for Accredited Ministers are clear that any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is deemed gross misconduct. 

Some members have requested that the MR Rules be changed so that an accredited minister who is in a same-sex marriage would no longer be committing gross misconduct and lose their accreditation. This would change the current definition of marriage in the MR Rules. 

We need to establish whether our forebears were correct to say that ministers in a same sex relationship were committing gross misconduct. The government has introduced same-sex marriage since, but should that make any difference to what the Church is to believe about marriage and homosexual behaviour, and are we therefore free to change our current definition of marriage? 

Peter Elmes is one of the speakers chosen to help encourage debate about this issue within some of the Union’s Associations. His publication “A Beautiful Endeavour” (Creative Tensions Publications) contains a series of well written creative dialogues, and out of these he sketches five positions on this view, some of which affirm homosexual behaviour (p31-33). The impression is given that various churches should be able to coexist together with radically different views on this subject. Similarly one of our Associations has its pluralistic stance posted on its website “…the views of members of the SWBA staff team and trustee board vary on this matter despite our unwavering commitment to interpret Scripture faithfully; we do not all agree, but we remain resolutely committed to walking together in love” (“A Statement on Human Sexuality” SWBA). But what if the Scriptures were crystal clear, that homosexual practice is ‘gross misconduct’ in the light of a faithful interpretation of these, as our forebears understood? 

Such approaches are aimed it seems at ‘keeping everybody happy’ or ‘agreeing to disagree’ rather than discovering the truth about homosexuality’s moral standing in the eyes of God. The pluralistic approach is already assumed. 

The Bible’s teaching on Marriage and Homosexuality 

There is no substitute for a proper systematic approach to what the Bible teaches about marriage and homosexuality. For this is how we know the truth from God; what is and what is not acceptable in his eyes. This is foundational to our understanding as Christians and as Baptists: 

“That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.” (Declaration of Principle) 

What do the Scriptures teach? These inform what Christian Ministers and the members of our churches are to believe about marriage and about homosexuality. From a systematic study of the relevant material there is no doubt that the Bible prohibits homosexuality. Any objections in light of his revelation to us are easily dealt with. We begin not with creative dialogues but with the Scriptures themselves: Here I have posted a link to an article that does exactly this. It is taken from the ESV Study Bible: 

Homosexuality. ESV Study Bible Scroll down to “Homosexuality” (ESV Study Bible.p2547- 2550. One of thirteen articles on ‘Biblical ethics’ by Wayne Grudem Ph.D.; Daniel R Heimbech Ph.D.; C Ben Mitchell Ph.D.; Craig Mitchell Ph.D.)

You will need to provide your own password initially to access the material. Once you have signed in you will not need to do so again. It’s worth persevering with this because there are excellent preliminary articles on methodology such as:

“An Overview of Ethical Instruction and Example in the Bible”, “How Can People Discover God’s Moral Standards?” and “God’s Holy Character as the Source of His Moral Standards”

There then follows thirteen articles on diverse ethical themes. The one on homosexuality is just above half way through as you scroll down. It’s about three thousand words

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