PCA Report on Human Sexuality

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”…So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

– GENESIS 2:18, 21–25

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”

– Genesis 4:1
THE PCA AD INTERIM COMMITTEE Report on Human Sexuality contains an abundance of excellent and helpful content. It is well written, clear and concise. But the Firm Foundation Partnership is concerned that the committee endorses men for leadership who are “same-sex attracted if they demonstrate “requisite Christian Maturity.”

 

The FFP is concerned that:

1.

These are contradictory attributes. A man who is same-sex attracted does not demonstrate “requisite Christian maturity.” Therefore, he is not qualified for leadership. The AIC Committee, obviously, would disagree. But same-sex attracted men are not “above reproach.” Consequently, the AIC Committee also disagrees with Scripture.

 

Titus 1:5-7a: This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.

 

Leviticus 18:22: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

 

Matthew 5:28: But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

2.

The AIC Committee’s “Conclusion” is not a conclusion. The committee’s formal “Conclusion” is on pages 53 and 54. But it’s simply a stopping point where the committee restates their emphases on 1) “relational unity” (in the absence of doctrinal unity on this topic?), 2) a confession that the committee members represent PCA “polarities,” 3) a denial of committee “group-think,” 4) an admission that other denominational leaders from “diverse perspectives” were consulted, 5) an acknowledgement they attempted not to write “voluminously” in service to the “wider church,” 6) a desire to create a study that is “useful” and “accessible,” and 7) references to attached essays on “the theology of unbidden desires,” pastoring those “struggling with same sex desires,” and “how to address modern culture.”

3.

The AIC Committee claims they are making no recommendations. They state that “Knowing that some have anticipated that our Report will divide and polarize our church with recommendations that will try to press certain perspectives on others, we have made no recommendations.” (The committee also states “we believe that our best service to the church will not be given by trying to leverage actions with recommendations, but asking that our church’s leaders experience what we have on this Committee by listening with respect to what the Lord may intend to teach from those who have sought to honor his Word and each other in this Report.”) However, the AIC Committee does make a recommendation.

4.

The AIC Committee offers both a conclusion and recommendation on page 31. The committee states “Like all yet-to-be glorified Christiansthose who struggle with same-sex attraction are commanded to walk with the Lord in faith and repentanceInsofar as such persons display the requisite Christian maturity, we do not consider this sin struggle automatically to disqualify someone for leadership in the church (1 Cor. 6:9-11, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9; 2 Pet. 1:3-11).”   The first sentence concludes, after previous discussion, that same-sex attracted men are like all other imperfect “Christians” who have “yet-to-be glorified.” The second sentence follows by recommending that same-sex attracted men who “display requisite Christian maturity” be considered for “leadership in the church.” (Leadership is not defined but, in the context of a denominational report, “leadership” must reference the ordained offices of ruling and teaching elder, and deacon.) Please note the first sentence prepares us for the second sentencethe statement that same-sex attracted men are sinners like the rest of us precedes the recommendation allowing same-sex attracted men to be ordained for leadership in Christ’s church.   We agree with the first sentence when referring to consequences for sin. Outside of Christ, both heterosexuals and homosexuals will be judged sinners deserving hell. But we are missing any committee reference to their qualitative difference evident in the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s statement that “Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.” We are also missing any reference to their qualitative difference in God’s declaration that homosexuality is “unnatural” and an “abomination.” See Homosexuality.

5.

The AIC Committee goes even further, explicitly denying these Biblical and confessional declarations that heterosexuality and homosexuality are “qualitatively different.” The committee states, “The danger of this question arising in the context of the discussion of homosexuality is that some might be tempted to think of that particular example of disordered desire as qualitatively different from their own” (Note). But the Bible and the Westminster Confession of Faith explicitly state the opposite: heterosexuality and homosexuality ARE qualitatively different.

 

Note: Here’s the committee’s full statement: “First, the dynamic of spontaneous sinful desire or attraction is not unique to those who experience homosexual desire. All people experience it. It is an essential point in the Confession that all of us who are descended from Adam and Eve experience their corrupted nature and the complex of disordered affections, desires, and attractions that come with that corruption. The danger of this question arising in the context of the discussion of homosexuality is that some might be tempted to think of that particular example of disordered desire as qualitatively different from their own. Or worse, some may be willing to assert the sinfulness of one category of spontaneous desire but minimize or remain largely ignorant of the sinful concupiscence that is common to all.” (pg.21)

 

Heterosexuality

Homosexuality

Part of God’s created order

A result of the fall, man’s rebellion.

God created it and called it good.

Mankind practices it and God calls it evil

It is good in the context of marriage

It is evil in any context.

God ordained it for natural procreation

God calls it unnatural, an abomination.

6.

The committee’s denial of a qualitative difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality prepares the reader for the committee’s recommendation allowing leadership (ordination) for same-sex attracted men. And considered in the context of 2019 General Assembly events that spawned this report, their recommendation may be construed, in part, an apologetic for Greg Johnson’s continued pulpit ministry and the Missouri Presbytery’s refusal to remove him from ministry.

7.

The Firm Foundation Partnership denies that same-sex-attracted men who appear to demonstrate “requisite Christian maturity” are qualified for church leadership. Same-sex attraction demonstrates either Christian immaturity at best, or the man’s lost condition at worst (Note). In either case, a same-sex attracted man is not above reproach, and is not qualified for church leadership. Nor is a man qualified for leadership who is same-sex attracted but does NOT “identify” as same-sex attracted. Simply dropping the identity label does not validate what the label represents. The issue is the heart, not the label. Consequently, a man who continues to experience same-sex attraction but no longer identifies as a same-sex Christian is disqualified for church leadership.

 

Note: Sinclair Ferguson states, “There are actually only two pastoral problems you will ever encounter. The first is this: persuading those who are under the dominion of sin that they are under the dominion of sin. That’s the task of evangelism. And [second], persuading those who are no longer under the dominion of sin that they are no longer under the dominion of sin because they’re Christ’s.”

8.

FFP does agree with the AIC Committee that “too often, Christians have been very clear on the ‘no’ of same-sex sexual relationships, without then offering a plausible pathway to deep and meaningful community for which we were made (Gen. 2:18, Gal. 6:2, Heb. 10:24-25).” In response, the Firm Foundation Partnership asserts that those struggling with homosexual attraction should never suffer in silence. They should seek aid and counsel from those God has provided in His church for this purpose (Galatians 6:1-2). Those struggling with same-sex-attraction, along with all those struggling with unlawful sexual attractions of any kind, should be encouraged to seek the help, prayer, and counsel of mature believers, elders, and pastors (James 5:16, Hebrews 3:12-13, Hebrews 10:24-25). FFP also supports a path for ordination for former homosexuals who are called to ministry.

My Problem with the PCA Study Committee Report on Human Sexuality

By Larry Ball:

Since the document was so theologically sound and Confessional overall, some might ask why I would be so negative.  Why throw water on the party?  Let me mention just one item that disappointed me. The poignant issue for the PCA is not the mere existence of Christians who struggle against same-sex attraction, but rather the ordination of men who publicly identify as gay-Christians.  On this issue the document leaves the progressive side a wide-open pathway to capture the PCA.  On page 31, the document says,  “Insofar as such persons display the requisite Christian maturity, we do not consider this sin struggle automatically to disqualify someone for leadership in the church (1 Cor. 6:9-11, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9; 2 Pet. 1:3-11).”  In other words, Side B gay ministers may continue in the Church preaching from the pulpit, and it opens the door for future ordination of other such men to leadership positions in the Church.

What the PCA Study Committee Did Not Study

By Peter Jones:

In that sense, the Bible’s view of sexuality is not motivated by small-mindedness, unloving moralism, discrimination, violence, and bullying, as its critics claim. Biblical sexuality comes from a theistic understanding of the universe, deeply rooted in the being of God Himself, which is the ground zero of existence. We are made in his image, male and female, to reflect his image of unity in distinctions, as ultimately expressed in the Trinity. Homosexuality is not only “sinful,” but, as Paul says in Romans 1:26, it is “unnatural.” It is not “unnatural” just because most people don’t understand it or don’t identify as homosexuals. It is unnatural because it is out of order with the physical cosmos as God made it. It is thus both a rejection of the natural world and of God himself, who is both moral judge and intelligent Creator of all things.

The PCA Report on Homosexuality

by Harry Reeder

 

When we advocate for laws and policies that bless the relationships that God calls sin, we are acting as though we think ourselves more merciful than God is.

– Rosaria Butterfield

…God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error…Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

– ROMANS 1:26-27, 32

Recommended Reading

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

By Rosaria Butterfield

“Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world…In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department’s curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down–the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a ‘train wreck’ at the hand of [God]. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.” – Amazon

A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption

By Becket Cook

“This short book is a very healthy mixture of candid self-disclosure and rigorous thought. It combines good storytelling with careful handling of the Bible. It is always honest and never glib.” – D. A. Carson

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

By Kevin DeYoung

““This book provides a short, accessible, and pastoral toolbox for all Christians to navigate the shifting cultural landscape of sexuality and find confidence and hope in how the Bible directs our steps. DeYoung responds to the pivotal and often heart-wrenching questions of our day: can we trust God’s Word on the subject of homosexuality or are we misreading Jesus and standing on the wrong side of history? These accusations, like the serpent’s question to Eve in the garden, must be addressed through wise apologetics. DeYoung offers wise and readable apologetics here, providing his readers with both motive and model for how to think and talk about homosexuality and the Christian faith in a way that honors Christ and gives hope to a watching world.”
– Rosaria Butterfield