In my last blog post I discussed the unfortunate embrace of homosexuality by the pastor and church leadership of GracePointe Church outside Nashville, Tennessee. I want to push this debate a little further.
The biblical model of human sexuality and marriage is not complicated: Sex is reserved for a man and woman within a monogamous marital union.
Some evangelicals now reject that model and accept as valid same sex activity and homosexual marriage. The increasingly common argument proposed by these Christians is that the Holy Spirit is showing us something new.
I first came across this argument in 2003, during the hullabaloo created by the Episcopal Church when it ordained the openly homosexual clergyman Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.
Diana Butler Bass, author of Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community, said members of the more liberal mainline Protestant churches “are open to the newness and unexpectedness of how God works. God can open doors and lead us to new understanding.”
This “newness” was applauded as something the Holy Spirit was doing among Christians. “This [vote to confirm Gene Robinson] is a prophetic step forward,” gushed Rev. Susan Russell in 2003. Russell is a lesbian Episcopal priest in California and has been a longtime homosexual activist within that denomination. “The General Convention has now said amen to what the Holy Spirit said to the people of New Hampshire” when they originally selected Robinson.
Liberal Christians seem enamored with this idea of a never-ending search for God’s truth, a Hegelian process that turns its back on the past and is always looking forward to that fresh synthesis of old and new.
However, this is nothing more than a baptized moral relativism. There is nothing objective about what these liberals regard as truth. It is all tied to self rather than any external source of truth. Such a philosophy of discovery can lead absolutely anywhere because there can be as many visions of what is true as there are people.
In other words, it is just opinion. In the whole concept of spirituality, the end result of such subjectivity is a shift away from one that is God-centered to one that is man-centered.
Edith M. Humphrey, William F. Orr Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, once told me in an interview that Christians must oppose the liberal assertion that “contemporary and individual experience can ‘trump’ the wisdom of the apostles as found in the Scriptures or the ongoing witness of the historic Church.”
How completely ludicrous for liberals and now even some evangelicals to claim that the Holy Spirit is saying something that contradicts the Bible. In fact, to blame the Holy Spirit for our own rebellion is a terrifying sin.
Leaders in such churches continue to have “conversations” and pray about things like homosexuality, expecting to get a different answer from the one everyone else has gotten for the last two thousand years.
Eventually they do get a different answer. Such ministers always end up building their case on feelings or reasoning or experiences or a “sense” that the Holy Spirit is saying such-and-such. But it isn’t the Spirit of God they’re hearing.
So what spirit are they hearing? We can go back as far as the garden of Eden, when the serpent slyly asked Eve, “Indeed, has God said …?”
The Apostle John makes it just as clear in 1 John 4:1-6 when he discusses the deceptions of false prophets who are under the sway of the “spirit of the antichrist.” John says we are to test every spirit “to see whether they are from God.”
How do we know the difference between the Spirit of God and the spirits of false prophets? The test is quite simple: Does someone believe the apostles of Christ?
“We are from God,” John states flatly. “He who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
The Scriptures have always suffered the attacks of the kingdom of darkness. The Evil One knows that if he can undermine the Bible, he can undermine the Christian. For Jesus said His words are like a rock upon which a house is built (Matthew 7:24), serving as a firm foundation for His followers.
Of course, Christ’s words are a rock for the man or woman who believes and obeys them. If they are discarded, it is as if a man has built his house on shifting sand. When the inevitable storm of wind, rain and flood hammer it, the house will fall, and Jesus said its ruin would be great.
If that point has indeed come for many evangelicals, it is a truly sad day. But no Christian can say that they weren’t warned. All they had to do was read the Bible.