Thursday, July 16, 2009

Who Chooses the Church?

The news about the Episcopal Church formally lifting the ban on ordaining practicing homosexuals as bishops makes me wonder if Americans are losing their ability to sense hypocrisy. Americans demand the right to customize everything to our tastes. Don't like a black or white iPhone? We can recolor it. Don't like the standard burger? Have it your way! Don't like the way your house looks? We can match any color you do like! But when God makes a claim about how He wants His Church to work, we feel a right to contradict Him and decide He can't have it the way He wants.

I am sick of debating the biological/psychological origins of homosexuality, the political implications of it, and the comparative studies of homosexuality in ancient Israel versus today. They are beside the point. The Bible is quite clear on how God wants the Church to work.

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being am overseer [a pastor or elder], he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
1Timothy 3:1-7
Please note, heterosexuality is not the only qualification in this list. A pastor must also be shown to be gentle, not a big drinker, a good father, a long-time believer, and must have a good reputation (which even disqualifies anyone who has a bad reputation that is NOT EARNED). But heterosexuality and monogamy are clearly qualifications. Ordaining practicing homosexuals is ignoring this prescription (as would ordaining an alcoholic or someone with a child who is a criminal or even someone unwilling to entertain in their home).

But does God really care about this "fringe issue"? Doesn't He give people a lot of latitude in their styles of worship? The Bible shows Him giving latitude to the masses, and not to those who would be leaders. Consider the death of Aaron's sons who God killed for worshiping Him in a way other than He had prescribed. It was not that they were being disrespectful, not that they were worshiping other gods, not that they were even coming with some unconfessed sin. They simply worshiped in a way other than God required. Or in the New Testament consider Ananias and Sapphira who were killed for lying about the offering they gave to God. It was not that the offering was insufficient, it was not that the money offered was in any way "bad", it was not even that there was some other defect in them. They simply lied about the offering, presenting it in a way that was other than God required.

The ordination of bishops is the selection of leaders for God's church. Doesn't He have the right to decide who gets to serve and who does not?

1 comment:

CRCHAIR said...

I agree. Unfortunately, many people treat their religion as a culture more than a calling. That is why there are people who call themselves Christians who haven't been in a church since they were baptized as a baby and people who call themselves Jewish who have never had a Bar Mitzvah or celebrated the Passover.