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Hopes Shattered

ECUSA's response to the Windsor Report (To set our hope in Christ) was presented to the ACC this week. We read it with much hope of ECUSA repenting and returning to Biblical orthodoxy on human sexuality. Our hope, and the hope of many Anglicans world wide, was shattered by the document. The tone of the document was set by the introduction of Bishop Griswold where he claims that God is doing a new thing, bringing a new blessing, opening up old eyes to new revelations of holiness in ECUSA and that the Holy Spirit is the guiding force for this departure from Biblical orthodoxy on human sexuality. The document seeks to connect the acceptance within ECUSA of 'same-sex affection' (Note the new 'gentle' marketing term!) with the acceptance of societal outcasts by Christ, with the experience of the early church in accepting Gentile Christians, with women's ordination and even with the acceptance of the length of a man's hair (2.17). In response we would say that today homosexuality is not an outcast in western society but is accepted, embraced and promoted widely. The exegesis of the passages relating to the acceptance of outcasts by Christ fails to follow on to his call for them to repent and leave their lives of sin. Their argument concerning the parallel between the acceptance of Gentile Christians in the first century and the acceptance of same-sex affection in the 21st century is a departure from all known exegesis of Scripture. It is also very selective in its use of Peter and Paul to defend their position whilst ignoring those passages in which both Apostles condemn the very lifestyle they are seeking others to accept.

ECUSA speaks of 'sinful patterns of sexuality' and then lists several such patterns. However what they fail to acknowledge is that the arguments which they put forward in support of their position for same-sex affection would be equally valid for any of the 'sinful patterns of sexuality' they have listed. The rest of section 2 is an expansion of their argument vis a vis the acceptance of Gentile Christians by the early church and the parallel experience of the acceptance by ECUSA of homosexuality. There is one very telling section, 2.13, where the subtle implication is that those who oppose the acceptance of same-sex affection and threaten division over it are in fact doing the work of Satan. Further in section 2.22 we cut to the heart of their understanding of same-sex affection - namely that it is socially, culturally and biologically determined. This fails to accept that behaviour is a moral choice. As we stated earlier this argument could be put forward to accept any 'pattern of sexuality.' Their argument concerning 'genetic' make-up sounds scientific but in reality flies in the face of much modern research. The implication of their argument at this point is that there are three genders - male, female and homosexual. The absurdity of arguing that we do not ask people to repent of maleness or femaleness and therefore we should not ask them to repent of 'same-sex affection' shows the desperation of their position. In response all we can say is that orientation may be the cause of same-sex affection but orientation cannot justify the behaviour. Same-sex affection is a moral choice and is not, as they would argue, the same as ethnicity.

Reform Ireland is heartened by the response of the ACC to ECUSA in reaffirming Lambeth I.10 and the traditional Biblical teaching that sexual intercourse is for heterosexual marriage and that outside of that context it is sinful and is to be repented of. We commit ourselves to upholding, in love, the biblically orthodox position, and historical church teaching, on human sexuality. We have listened to ECUSA, (and many others) state their position and conclude that it is not biblical and their attempt to argue from Scripture the acceptance of same-sex affection is in fact the proclamation of another gospel. We ask all members of the Church of Ireland to continue in prayer for the ACC and for those brothers and sisters in Christ in ECUSA who are standing firm on the Biblical and historical teaching of the Church on this issue. We would also ask for continued prayer for our Church of Ireland as those chosen by the Standing Committee formulate a response to the Windsor Report for next year's general synod.

25th June 2005
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