Saturday, November 22, 2008

"No on B" Votes Increasingly Doom Passage

As of this writing, 9 of 173 presbyteries have voted on Amendment 08-B. All have voted no, most overwhelmingly. Each successive “no” vote makes the prospect of gaining approval of the moral revisionist amendment—and thus approving nonmarital sexual practice for ordained Presbyterians—all the more unlikely.

“Well DUH!” you might say. “Every no vote isn’t a yes vote, and they need yes votes to win. And besides, all nine presbyteries have voted just as they have in the past. The vote is rather obvious, with no surprises so far. It doesn’t prove anything.”

I’m no rocket surgeon, as a “Dilbert” In-Duh-Vidual was once quoted as saying, but I think there is something very important going on even in these according-to-form early votes. It is this: The folks who want us to toss out our ordination standard and approve the constitutional amendment desperately NEED some surprises to happen, and so when the obvious happens, the forces for change lose big.

Let’s do the math: The last time we voted on the matter, 127 presbyteries voted to retain the standards we have always upheld. Only 46 presbyteries voted to remove the standards. That means that this year, in order to get the 87 presbyteries needed to approve a constitutional amendment, the revisionists need 41 of the 127 opposing presbyteries to change their mind and vote the other way. In other words, nearly a third of these presbyteries need to flip-flop on the issue—and that’s if the moral revisionists manage to hold on to every one of their previous 46 presbyteries who voted with them.

So, the moral revisionists needed 41 of 127 opposing presbyteries to change their minds. That was a 32 percent change rate. But now 9 presbyteries have already voted, and not one of them has changed. That means that only 118 opposing presbyteries remain that might possibly flop over to the moral revisionist side.

Since the revisionists still need 41 presbyteries to switch, they now need 41 out of 118 opposing presbyteries, or a 35 percent change rate. As you can see, the needed change rate just keeps getting steeper every time a presbytery votes according to form against the amendment. Should a presbytery that formerly voted with the moral revisionists now vote against them (as in voting no on Amendment 08-B), the needed change rate would really jump higher.

Or think of it this way: Those who favor ordaining persons sexually active outside the marriage of a man and a woman need to nearly double the number of presbyteries willing to vote with them, from 46 to 87. Every presbytery that doesn’t do so is one more nail in the Amendment 08-B coffin.

It could get to the point before long that nearly every remaining opposing presbytery would need to switch its vote for the moral revisionists to get their amendment approved. That is not likely to happen.

However, having watched my team’s criminally lax “prevent defense” allow a college football rival to win a game today that my team ought to have won, I understand the need for caution. The wholesale revision of Christian sexual morality can and will happen if good people do nothing. Revisionists are working diligently to try to get Amendment 08-B approved. Thus, those of us who want to retain biblical morality simply must show up to work against, speak against, and vote against Amendment 08-B in each of our presbyteries.

We ought to take hope that the odds are stacked in our favor on this vote. We ought not to let that lure us into fatal complacency.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Everyone Needs to Respond to the Good News

Former General Assembly Moderator Susan Andrews asked, “Can the inclusion of gay and lesbian persons be a part of our evangelism?” She was bringing up what she considered a sensitive question at a denominational evangelism consultation at Stony Point.

The answer seems a no-brainer to me: Of course we ought to include gay and lesbian persons in our evangelistic outreach!

No one—absolutely no one—ought to be left out of the invitation to say yes to Jesus Christ. Why would anyone not be given access to redemption and the opportunity to switch the lordship of one’s life from self to God? Who does not need to respond in obedience and thankfulness to so great a salvation? Everyone needs to be valued enough to be evangelized.

So, yes, by all means, we must include gay and lesbian persons as part of our evangelism. I fail to see any controversy in that.

If you want controversy, mention including Jewish persons as part of our evangelism. Or better yet, if you want controversy, try simply doing evangelism in a denomination that has studiously avoided it for decades. But sharing the Good News with gay and lesbian persons outside the faith and inviting them to give their lives in submission to Jesus Christ—just as every one of us already in the church has supposedly done—now that’s not particularly controversial, as I see it.

Something else?
But perhaps that isn’t what Susan Andrews was considering. Maybe she was trying to turn political social engineering into some form of ersatz evangelism. It is quite possible that she was thinking not so much of telling gay and lesbian persons about redemption through faith in Jesus Christ, but instead just kind of inviting them to join her club and be a part of this do-good social organization.

No expectations. No faith requirements. Nothing to give up, as Jesus asked the rich young ruler to do concerning his attachment to money. Just mosey on by and join our club, without paying any attention to the radical redirection of all of our life and living that is supposed to go hand-in-hand with making Jesus Lord of everything and not just chief affirmer of all that's wonderful in me.

There’s this little hang-up with sexual morality that perhaps Susan Andrews was hoping we’d just kind of paper over—you know, the thing about living our lives by God’s loving commandments rather than being controlled by our prideful sins and harmful addictions. That part about being born again, about confessing sin and experiencing metanoia (a turning of direction to follow God’s will); that part about saying “Not my will but thy will be done”—perhaps Susan would prefer to lay that aside and just tell people what they want to hear, not what they desperately need to hear.

Oh, we’d be very popular in this anything-goes world if we would simply invite people with any particular sin to celebrate it and not worry about conforming it to God’s will. We’d be hip. We’d be happenin’. We’d be the darlings of the “tolerant” set, who demand adoration of any bent other than orthodox Christianity, which oddly must not be permitted. The press would lionize such “acceptance,” as compared to the much-frowned-upon “intolerance” of orthodox Christian morality.

But we would be unloving, and we would be in opposition to the Lord of the Universe if we became sloppily antinomian. We’d be unloving by encouraging people to destroy themselves and others with ungodly actions. We'd be unloving in hiding from gay and lesbian persons the one message every one of us most needs to hear: Repent and be baptized.

We’d be in opposition to the Lord because we would withhold from people whom God loves the radical words of salvation. We’d be in opposition to the Lord because God hates sin, and no sin gets a pass, while every sin can be erased through God’s grace.

So, yes! Let us include gay and lesbian persons in our evangelism. The Good News is for every one of us sinners. Let us include them in the church—unrepentant as they taste the love of God and get exposed to the Good News of redemption, and then repentant as they are swept up in God’s overpowering love and accede to God’s lordship.

And let gay and lesbian persons—fully given to Jesus Christ as he gives them power to live chaste lives in obedience to him—reach out as evangelists to others, not with some bogus “good news” that tries to accommodate brokenness, but with the genuine Good News that Jesus saves us from any and all behaviors and proclivities, as he transforms our lives to mirror his good and perfect intent for our perfection.

Now that, I contend, would be gutsy evangelism!