The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is racing to take the lead over other post-Christian liberal Protestant denominations in enthusiastically courting the wrath of God. Despite all the biblical and statistical evidence concerning the misguided course its leaders have charted over the last 50 years, the denomination continues to thumb its nose at both God’s revelation and its own credal formulations. One might think that this shrinking, politically leftist group would be satisfied with having embraced the ordination of practicing homosexuals and the casting aside of Scripture and creeds in order to affirm same-sex marriage as God’s latest blessing for human beings. But the genius of fallen human nature seems to be the capacity to invent ever more creative ways to oppose God.
The latest comes in an overture (no. 50) to the 2016 General Assembly proposed by the Presbytery of New York City. Entitled “On the Admission of, and Apology for, Harms Done to the LGBTQ/Q Members of the PC(USA), Family and Friends,” this overture, if passed by the GA, would require the denomination to “admit harms done and apologize to those it has wronged” from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning communities. To be clear, this is not talking primarily about harms and wrongs through unloving attitudes toward this particular group of sinners (such attitudes should be repented of). What this presbytery wants is for the denomination to admit it has been wrong over the years to assert the biblical truth that the sexual relationship is divinely intended exclusively for those linked in the covenant of heterosexual marriage. By approving this overture, the PCUSA would declare that it has erred in following clear, biblical truth, and that its proclamation of biblical sexuality (embraced by the church universal over all centuries until these recent aberrations) has in fact caused harm to those engaged in such sinful practices. Concomitantly, such a declaration would cement in place the recent moral transgressions of the denomination in approving “gay ordination” and same-sex marriage. Far from being merely decisions to keep in step with a secular society, these actions would be seen as helping to “right the wrongs” committed by heterosexist leaders of past generations.
What impact would this have on the PCUSA and others? I foresee four probabilities:
- This once fruitful and faithful denomination will continue to shrivel, but at an even faster pace if possible. Remaining evangelicals who have stayed to try to reform their wayward denomination will not be able to stomach apologizing to certain groups of sinners for calling sin what it is. To do so would be to side with human wisdom over against divine revelation. Consequently, financial support for the denomination would continue to crumble (as it has over the last decade or more) since evangelicals make up the most generous contributing sector (by percentage) within the mainline church. The PCUSA would continue its trajectory as a champion of “sexual justice”, reinterpreting the gospel to mean the advancement of the rights of the disenfranchised in an unjust world rather than the gift of eternal life to sinners in need of salvation.
- Since the PCUSA defines the LGBTQ/Q causes to be a matter of “justice love,” this admission of guilt and harm by the denomination would inevitably lead to calls for “reparations” to those harmed. An insufficiently large settlement offer would likely then lead to lawsuits against the denomination, which had already admitted its guilt. What would such claims do to the already truncated resources of the PCUSA? Perhaps the accelerated closings and sales of defunct or departing local congregations would facilitate such “justice love.”
- The Muslim world (and perhaps other religious communities as well) would take this as confirmation that “Christian America” is indeed morally corrupt. For a world view which cannot separate state and religion, the fact that the American entertainment industry spews out the sewage of violence, sexual license and confusion, materialistic excess, ethnic triumphalism, arrogant individualism and the like to all corners of the world leads them to the conclusion that these are the fruits of Christianity. To learn that a “Christian” denomination now not only condones sexual sin but apologizes for having opposed such behaviors in the past would only confirm in the minds of Muslims that Christianity cannot be from God. The damage to world missions by such a move of the GA would be incalculable.
- The wrath of God would fall even more heavily and quickly on the PCUSA. Its lampstand, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, would be removed by the Lord (if it hasn’t already; see Rev. 2:5). 1 Peter 4:17 reminds us that God’s judgment “begins with the household of God.” And the apostle Paul warns Christians, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal 6:7-8).
Fortunately, the PCUSA is not yet at this point. For the overture to become part of PCUSA policy, it will first need to gain the concurrence of another presbytery (I have little doubt that will happen). Then it will need to be voted on by the General Assembly this coming June and approved (my guess is that will happen). Since this overture does not seek to amend the denominational constitution, but rather to direct the PCUSA to “affirm, confess and apologize” for how it has harmed the LGBTQ/Q community and extended family and friends, if the GA vote is positive, Overture 50 will have full directive force and the “mea culpas” will begin to flow. Should this occur, the PCUSA would cross a new Rubicon with disastrous effects for its own future as well as for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom throughout the world. What a tragedy this would be for a once mission-focused, Christ-honoring, theologically astute movement to find itself discarded on the rubbish heaps of history!
Please pray that God in His mercy will turn the PCUSA back to gospel faithfulness and a passion to speak the truth in love for the glory of His Son!