Why the Church is Losing in the Culture Wars
The steady march of those who seek to undermine pro-family and pro-life values continues unabated. Various activist groups are making great headway in the face of apathy and indifference from the general public. But too often their causes are greatly aided and abetted by those who should know better. That is, there are those in the Christian Church who should be taking an active lead in opposing the various radical agendas, but are instead sleeping with the enemy.
Take the issue of homosexuality for example. There are too many churchmen and women who have collaborated with the homosexual agenda, ignoring their own credal affirmations to the contrary. Thus they compromise the faith and their theology in an effort to placate the gay activists.
A case in point occurred on ABC’s Lateline on February 25. Anglican Archbishop Peter Carnley from Perth was interviewed by Tony Jones on the issue of gay marriage. US President George Bush had just declared he would seek a Constitutional amendment to ban them. The Archbishop was asked for his opinions.
Perhaps knowing what a theological hot potato this issue is, the Archbishop was the consummate politician, side-stepping questions, or not letting on too clearly what he really thought. (And we know what he really thinks, given his past pronouncements on the issue.)
Thus he carefully made his way through some persistent questioning, but let enough of his opinion known to worry those who believe that Scripture, not passing trendy social theories, is the norm for ethical considerations.
In a comment on the initiative by President Bush, Dr Carnley said this: “I think you have to remember that homosexual people only make up less than 10 per cent of the community and I think the other 90 per cent is able to sustain the institution of marriage if it wanted to.” He is wrong on two counts here. He still is peddling the myth that homosexuals make up around 10 per cent of the population, and he thinks they are having or will have a negligible influence in the culture wars.
He is quite wrong of course. Gays make up only 1 to 2 per cent of the adult population. And the gay activists have made tremendous progress over just a very short period of time. The rest of the population, in the meantime, has offered very little resistance. The very fact that we have to debate gay marriage at all is evidence of just how far they have advanced.
Indeed, news commentators here have spoken of how “controversial” and radical the Bush amendment plan is. Wait a minute! Wanting to protect marriage is not radical or controversial. Wanting to say two men or two women can marry is however.
That shows just how far we have progressed (or regressed). Proposing gay marriage is seen as acceptable. But wanting to defend marriage as being between a man and a woman is seen as controversial!
So the good Archbishop may not be worried, but he should be.
When asked about the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, the Archbishop said this: “I think I understand it if same sex partnerships want to be legalised in some way – for holding property together, for example, to secure inheritance, superannuation payments and, very importantly, to claim the responsibilities or the rights of next of kin if one of them happens to die. I think I can understand all that. So to register a relationship for those purposes I think is understandable and I don’t think you have to use the term ‘marriage’ of it.”
But what is he saying here? With the one hand he wants to say “no” to gay marriage, but with the other he wants to grant them almost every single benefit and privilege that heterosexual couples enjoy. Of course to extend to any and every kind of relationship all the social and legal benefits of heterosexual marriage is to effectively destroy marriage.
It is like saying that anyone, regardless of size, age, ability, talent or experience, should be allowed to play professional football. To open the sport up in such a way is to effectively destroy it. Right now football clubs discriminate all the time in deciding who should and should not be on the team. To change the rules would be to destroy the game. The same here. Heterosexual marriage is special, is different and is unique. To allow anyone into the club, and to throw out the ground rules, is to destroy it.
When Tony Jones, on several occasions, reminded the Archbishop that several years ago he recommended that the Anglican church consider blessing monogamous committed gay relationships, there was more side-stepping that took place.
And rightly so. Consider the implications of such a move. First of all, long-term monogamous homosexual relationships are very rare. And even when they do exist, the gay community redefines words such as “monogamous’ and “committed”, with many allowing extra sexual activities on the side.
Secondly, if Scripture declares homosexuality to be sinful, then that is the end of the discussion. You don’t seek to qualify the clear commands of Scripture. You don’t attempt to water them down.
One might as well argue that the Church should recognise committed fornicating relationships. Sorry, but it just does not work that way. Either play by the rules or find a different game to play.
Tony Jones, seemingly more aware of some theological truths, continued to press Dr Carnley on the moral and theological ramifications of these relationships. To which he made this comment: “And whilst some heterosexual people might say that those relationships are unnatural, if you talk to the gay people themselves, they’ll say what is unnatural for them would be a heterosexual relationship”
Sorry doctor. Not only is homosexuality unnatural (the body is just not designed for gay sex), but Scripture clearly states that it is unnatural as well, as in Romans 1. Every person, without the light of God’s revelation, thinks that what he or she is doing is “natural”. But we are all “naturally” sinners, and what we are doing is leading us away from God, not to him. Only by renouncing such “natural” feelings and inclinations, with God’s help, can we be in right relationship to him.
He was then asked about his recent statements in which he suggested that there are parts of the Scriptures which appear to accept same-sex relationships. Said Carnley, “Oh, well, yes, the story of David and Jonathan, for example, a very intense friendship of two males. I think that’s a very clear story in the Scriptures, and the story of Ruth and Naomi too, two women with a very intense and loyal friendship.” He even mentioned Jesus and the disciple whom he loved.
Yet when pressed on this, he backed away from saying that they were homosexual relationships. But he waffled on about how recent understandings of homosexuality are different from first century understandings.
Again, seeming to know more about Biblical ethics than the Archbishop, Tony Jones continued to pursue this line of questioning: “Do you believe what they do in the privacy of their own homes – that is, gay sex – is immoral?” To which Carnley replied, “ I think it’s basically a question for them to decide. I think it’s a personal question, an individual question, and they have to decide that in accordance with their own conscience.”
Well there you have it. People are to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. Let your conscience be your guide. Never mind that apart from God’s help, our consciences are fallen and tarnished. And never mind that where God has clearly spoken, we are not allowed a vote on it. We do not need to search our consciences to see if adultery is OK, or if theft is OK. Nor do we need to decide if we think that homosexuality is OK. God has already declared his hand in these matters, and we are called to obey him, not debate with him.
By now, any knowledgeable viewer would be asking himself, does Carnley have any absolutes at all that he clings to? Tony Jones certainly understood this, so he asked him, “Do you regard sexual morality as being subjective?” And by this point, true believers are cheering Jones, while remaining appalled at Carnley.
He replied that he did not think morality was subjective, but went on to say this: “I think the problem is when you start to talk about same sex relationships, long-term committed relationships, you have got something which can qualify to be called faithful. And if the Bible is in support of faithful relationships, that particular argument would lead you to support faithful same sex relationships so that’s the kind of debate we’re in.” Wrong again Archbishop. The Bible is not in support of “faithful” relationships. It is in support of Godly relationships, that is, relationships undertaken on His terms, not our own. You cannot have a God-approved same-sex relationship, just as you cannot have a God-approved adulterous relationship.
But as we have seen, it seems that a secular Lateline compere has more knowledge of things spiritual and ethical than the Archbishop does. Given such a poor performance, we can understand why society is so quickly going down the gurgler. It is going down because the Church is going down. The good news is the Archbishop retires next year. The bad news is, there is no guarantee his replacement will be any better.