A Sample Response

Next May, the Church of Scotland General Assembly will debate the role of homosexuals in leadership in the church, and in preparation for that debate a report is being prepared by a special commission of the General Assembly in consultation with each congregation and presbytery. One congregation, Bothwell Church in Motherwell, has published the result of the discussion that has taken place in its session in the most recent edition of its church magazine. It makes for interesting reading.

The church magazine says:

It is important that everyone associated with our congregation is informed of how our Kirk Session responded to this consultation. A document, comprehensive in its content, was prepared by the Special Commission. This contained several questions to be answered, some of which were in the form of descriptive sentences with Elders being asked to indicate which one corresponded most closely to their own point of view. Most of these responses were to be made in a secret ballot to ensure that everyone’s opinion could be freely expressed.

As the questions were often lengthy and complex, it is not possible to reproduce them all here. However, perhaps the responses to two of the most central questions may suffice to give a clear indication of the Kirk Session’s mind on this matter.

  • No elders believed that homosexual orientation is a disorder;
  • 2 elders believed that, while such orientation is a given, homosexual behaviour is sinful;
  • 13 believed that homosexual behaviour is equivalent morally to heterosexual behaviour;
  • 12 believed that homosexual orientation is a given part of God’s creation.

On a second group of questions, the elders responded as follows:

Should a person in a same-sex relationship be permitted to be ordained as a minister?      24 said Yes, 10 said No.

Should a person in a civil partnership be permitted to be ordained a minister? 28 said Yes, 7 said No.

Should a person is a same-sex relationship be permitted to have a leadership role? 28 said Yes, 6 said No.

Should a person in a civil partnership be permitted to have a leadership role? 31 said Yes, 2 said No.

In the same magazine, the minister writes about a new discussion group which is commencing in the congregation called Living the Questions. He writes,

For some time now I have been concerned about the strengthening of what I regard as a fundamentalist understanding of Christian theology with the Church. I do not recognise in its interpretation the teaching of grace and graciousness which characterised so much of Christ’ s dealing with ordinary folk. Instead I believe it to be a dangerous 20th century invention responding to rapid social changes brought about by modernity and globalisation. Dogmatism, which is divisive and deaf to the opinion of others, is of little use to any society and has no place within the Church nationally or locally.

On Thursday evenings throughout September and October we are therefore launching a new programme of discussion opportunities called Living the Questions. It is a DVD-based programme exploring contemporary themes of Christian faith. Designed for the countless people who suffer in silence as the voices of fear and certitude claim Christianity for themselves, it’ s purpose is to allow people to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask but have been afraid to voice. The programme is an open-minded alternative to those courses which claim to have ‘all the answers’. Instead of providing easy answers, it is a resource for people who are prepared to search, discuss and learn from one-another about the mysteries of faith and life as so share together our adventure in what the great Christian thinker Soren Kierkegaard calls “objective uncertainty”.

The producers of LtQ say this programme is NOT for:

  • those who personal faith requires them to believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God.
  • those who believe that the doctrines of the church are sacrosanct and never to be questioned.
  • those who believe the reason the mainline churches have been losing members is because they haven’t been teaching ‘orthodox’ Christianity or preaching the true Gospel.

It seems that once ministers and elders no longer believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God they will be confused in the whole area of morality where the Bible speaks with clarity. Whatever their religion is, it is not historic, orthodox Christianity.

If this sample congregation is indicative of the outcome in the Church of Scotland’s debate, then their decision at next year’s General Assembly may build bigger barriers between them and other orthodox denominations.

23 Replies to “A Sample Response”

  1. Thanks for posting that Stafford. I agree. I can’t see how in any definable sense of the term, that church could be called a ‘Christian’ church.
    A woman came up to me today and expressed her fear of death. What sort of a help would it be to her if I was ‘objectively uncertain’?
    We by grace proclaim life in all it’s fullness – for gay, straight, gossip, materialist, depressed, self righteous – whoever has ears to hear!

  2. I think ‘Living the Questions’ might be more aptly called “Yeah: Hath God said?”

    This Motherwell minister seems to have characteristics compatible with a description given of certain men in Jude 4. However, perhaps he views Jude as being ‘dogmatic’ and ‘divisive’ and therefore Jude’s inspired warning would be classified by him as being of ‘little use’ in today’s society.

  3. Ah but there’s a glimmer of hope for the remnant of Bothwell! The church’s website has a tab for “Kirk Session”, under which you’ll see the note “under consstruction”. Perhaps the previous session was dismantled becuase of it’s clearly inadequate foundation….now there’s a note of encouragement! (Or was the note sadly just relating to the webpage?)

  4. What has happenned in this Motherwell church is an utter shame. According
    to the church magazine, on a Sunday in November they plan a service to commemorate the 450th Anniversary of the Reformation in Scotland. Such a travesty of the truth. How can they commemorate something which the reformers and covenanters suffered for i.e. the doctrines and authority of Holy Scripture which the Sodomites deny and hate ! Romans 1 v 16

  5. I wonder what Moses would have replied if he had been accused of being objectively uncertain? But then he knew what it was to climb the mount and coverse with God. Even when he was absent to receive instructions for living the people turned to idol worship. Unfortunately scripture is full of the backsliding of God’s people both is the Old and New Testaments. Lusting after the desires of the flesh has not changed and will continue until the King of Kings returns to set up his kingdom. The old habit, men crept in unawares —–.

  6. The result of the consultation proves that 99.9% of this particular Kirk assembly are dead in trespasses and sin; therefore, such people are incapable of plumbing the depths of Holy Writ, to say anything further to them on this subject would be like casting your pearl before swine.

    The Kirk is dead, Ichabod has been nailed to its front door for decades, and my advice would be for those who name the name of Christ in truth, to come out from among them. If the unregenerate members of the Kirk want to embrace what Christ has rejected, then, let them, they are sinners, and they do what sinners do best, they sin.
    Any further discourse on this issue with them would be meaningless.

  7. So “Living the Questions” is a “….resource for people who are prepared to search, discuss and learn from one-another about the mysteries of faith and life..” What happened to learning from the Word of God?
    It seems to have been cast aside, and the sodomite agenda is allowed to gain momentum.

  8. It will apparantly soon be possible for a practicing unrepentant homosexual, to become Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Is it not time that we in Ireland, came out from amongst them.

  9. When the wicked have taken control of a church, what part has the righteous with them? It is no longer possible to remove the wicked offender, therefore the Christian should remove himself.

    I’m sure there are other churches nearby where one could meet with true believers. Loyalty to a church or denomination cannot override our duty to Christ, to love his people and worship with them.

  10. I don’t believe we’re ever going to deal in a Godly, Christ honouring way with the sin of homosexuality unless we all admit to the FACT that we are all in some way sexually broken.

    Gay men and women shouldn’t be made to feel that they are worse lawbreakers and sinners than the rest of us just because they’re gay. If they repent and have to confess their brokeness, we should as well

  11. Charlie Freel :@canalways Very true Canalways,but the question still remains. Are we prepared to place the leadership, moral authority and spritual guideance, of the Christian Church and the welfare of our Children,into the hands of an unrepentant,practicing homosexual. I firmly believe that a self confessed, unrepentent,practicing, sexually immoral hetrosexual,would have absolutly no chance of ever being considered for such a position, so why the discrimination?

  12. If the church of Jesus Christ is standing for the authority of Holy Scripture there is no way that such can be tolerated within. Therefore
    we must challenge these folk to Repent and Believe the Gospel, as with
    anyone around us who is unconverted. Paul spoke of turning from idols
    in his day so it must be in our day. This is not cultural !

  13. well I’m not sure that I would want to place the leadership of the Christian church into the hands of an unrepentant,practicing homosexual

    but

    the reality is there are many unrepentant, practicing leaders in the church who practice other sins (sexual and non-sexual) that aren’t challenged or even seen as a sin by people.
    They’re not asked to repent or change their ways in the same way that a homosexual man is asked.

    There are plenty of greedy elders,
    or elders who think wrongly about Roman Catholics,
    there are plenty of inhospitable elders,
    elders who don’t treat their wife properly,
    who love like to quarrel and love money

    If being gay should disqualify someone from being a leader in church from what the Bible teaches it should also disqualify others.
    Why would we qualify over someone else?What makes us more ‘qualified’?

    Surely it is realising that we’re deeply broken, flawed individuals who needs Grace.

    Otherwise I think we are making a ‘witch hunt’ out of broken men and women who we believe are a bigger class of sinnner than us…

  14. @canalways
    Finally we are in agreement.No unrepenting deliberatly practicing sinner,sexual or otherwise should be in a position of authority within the Christian Church.God makes it perfectly clear in his word,the stringent requirments for leadership within his Church.As for the Elders you mentioned,if they are as deliberatly and unrepentingly,in your face flawed as you imply,then you have a Christian duty to confront them ,and out them,with the evidence of their unsuitability for Christian leadership.

  15. Regarding these Elders, whoever they may be, a little grace wouldn’t hurt either; without it they’ll never become hospitable. Nor will I.

  16. 1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
    12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

  17. Ian, hi.

    I’m reading the word ‘covetous’, and I’m wondering if I should just leave of my own accord?

  18. It is with regret that I read about the goings on in the Church of Scotland. If you condone wrong it will come back to bite you. WE need to go back to basics otherwise we wll have to close shop.I realize that it is not up to us to judge. When a person is sick we must heal.We cannot have man made laws so that we may condone what is wrong.

  19. @Peter
    Hi, Peter.
    Sorry for not getting back sooner. No, if coveting is a sin into which you have fallen, repent. Ask the Lord for forgiveness, and for grace to kill it in your heart. Then begin again walking in His way.

  20. @canalways
    You are right about it being wrong to tolerate some sins whilst condemning others. No one who practises any sin should be in leadership in the church.

    And those who openly boast of their sin should not be permitted to membership in any church.

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