We call upon the leaders of the Church to be faithful to the Gospel as revealed in Jesus Christ, and to defend the faith.
We stand on the words of 2 Timothy 3:16. “All of scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…’
In recent years, to accommodate the changing values of the world, we have seen core teachings of the Bible challenged and rewritten. The justification frequently given is that scriptural interpretation changes as society develops and our understanding grows. Supporters of this stance frequently cite the example of changed social attitudes towards slavery, which in the Old Testament was regarded as normal – so much so that the ownership and treatment of slaves was carefully regulated in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus. Yet today, in the Christianised West, we regard slavery as wrong because any form of bondage denies the fundamental dignity and right to freedom of every man, woman and child, as made in the image of God. Although modern day trafficking is growing, with an estimated 46 million slaves worldwide, it is hard – if not impossible - to fault this analysis.
There is a clear difference, however, between social injustice and rules that arise from the nature of our creation; in particular the ‘rules’ relating to our existence, which determine the relationship of men and women, and our relationship to and with God. Genesis tells us that God created man and woman, together and jointly, in His own image, so that together we complement and complete each other. For this reason, Genesis says, a man and woman shall be joined together in lifelong and exclusive union, as a support to each other, and to care jointly for any children that result from their union. All forms of behaviour that damage that union, society, and our relationship with God are expressly prohibited; as, for example, fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality, paedophilia, bestiality. They are forbidden behaviours because they cause damage and stop us from becoming fully the people God wants us to be. They harm individuals, with adverse health consequences (both physical and mental), and, if unchecked, they harm society at large.
Pointing out error – or ‘sin’ – is not then judgmentalism, but love: because it gives the possibility of redemption and restoration. It requires too that we acknowledge that we are all sinful and entirely dependent on the grace of God for our salvation. No one is helped by redefining sin as normal and ‘good’.
Over the last few years gay and lesbian activists have drawn attention to the extreme injustice and condemnation they have suffered as result of their sexual orientation. Since the 1960s they have campaigned not just for acceptance, but for moral rebranding, so that homosexuality should no longer be regarded as a perversion, but rather as a normal and genetically determined, sexual orientation. Society’s acceptance of same sex marriage has resulted from this campaign, as has also the growing pressure to eliminate gender differentiation, and to normalize other once-prohibited sexual behaviours.
Society, made up of individuals who collectively demonstrate the full spectrum of fallen humanity, will always reflect differing values – some of which contribute to the general good, and some of which cause harm. The values enshrined in law will change as different values predominate. To this extent they are therefore transient. But it is the calling of the Church to uphold different and eternal values, and to incarnate the redemptive love of God, acting as vigilant shepherds to guard and guide the insensate flock.
This calling the Church betrays when it conforms to the changing values of the world, rather than upholding the unchanging and eternal word of God. Rewriting the fundamentals of scripture is not ‘hermeneutics’: it is trying to gain acceptance and influence within the prevailing value system. Saying, therefore, that homosexuality is the same as heterosexuality, that same-sex marriage is identical to traditional marriage as laid down in the Bible, that birth ‘gender’ is irrelevant and that we all have the right of choice, that ‘love’ is the sole determiner and sanction for all sexual relationships … is to fail in our pledge to love and protect the vulnerable, and to guard the teaching that will prepare God’s children for eternal life, given to us by and in Christ.
Although we acknowledge that the desire for tolerance and inclusivity is founded on good intentions, we would remind those in authority in the Church - of all denominations - of the warning of St Bernard of Clairvaux, "L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés ou désirs". To put it another way, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’.
So we call on the Church to repent our failure to defend and stand on the word of God – our faithlessness - and to reaffirm clear and simple doctrine, as stated in the Bible.
In particular, in the true love that respects and cares for all equally, we call on the Church to reaffirm that all of life is the gift of God, and that we are each one of us created male or female; gender is not a life-style choice. And as this life is preparation for eternity – meaning that our choices now determine our final destiny – so we call on the Church to defend the sanctity of marriage and the family, as providing the best environment for the sacred trust given to us by God to nurture and educate children in the things that lead to life, health,and fulfillment - in both this world and the world to come.
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Petition to: The Archbishop of Canterbury - the Archbishop of Westminster - the President of the Methodist Church - the Moderator of the URC