Reason above Scripture?
Once again an Anglican Archbishop makes the headlines, advocating a change to the Church's teaching on Human Sexuality. Reform Ireland reminds the Archbishop of Armagh that he has constantly and consistently called upon others to ‘listen’ and to not engage in controversial public statements, as such statements generate more heat than light. Whilst Reform Ireland are aware that the Archbishop Harper was not speaking solely on the issue of human sexuality, and homosexuality in particular, it is clear from his speech that he would seek to lead the Church of Ireland away from the biblical and historical Church teaching on the issue of human sexuality.
Whilst the media sensationalised a small part of his address the core of their reporting was accurate. It is now apparent that the Archbishop of Armagh, and others, have an open agenda to work for the full acceptance and inclusion of the LGBT lifestyles within the Church of Ireland. Reform Ireland were saddened by the reporting of the Archbishops unorthodox and controversial viewpoints. His argument that ‘if’ science prove a genetic link to sexual orientation then the Church of Ireland may need to accept ‘homosexual marriage’ is extremely weak.
One commentator has addressed the 'gay gene ' argument with these words:
Despite obvious theoretical and empirical weaknesses, the claims that certain genes cause homosexuality have been seized upon and vigorously promoted by many in the lesbian and gay rights movement (especially in the US).
One of the main original proponents of gay gene theory, Dr Dean Hamer, now concedes that it is unlikely that something as complex as human sexuality can be explained solely in terms of genetic inheritance. He seems to accept that while genetic factors may establish a predisposition towards homosexuality, a predisposition is not the same as a causation.
The relative influence of biological versus social factors with regard to sexual orientation is still uncertain. What is, however, certain is that if gayness was primarily explainable in genetic terms we would expect it to appear in the same proportions, and in similar forms, in all cultures and all epochs. As the anthropologists Clellan Ford and Frank Beach demonstrated in Patterns Of Sexual Behaviour (1965), far from being cross-culturally uniform and stable, both the incidence and expressions of same-sex desire vary vastly between different societies.
Having read the above three paragraphs it may come as a surprise to find that the author is Peter Tatchell, a leading UK gay rights campaigner. Where does this leave the Archbishop of Armagh if a leading gay rights campaigner questions the validity of the ‘science’ upon which he basis his argument that the Bible (and St Paul in particular) being wrong about homosexuality? There is absolutely nothing new in what the Archbishop is arguing. It is standard liberal-revisionist rhetoric concerning Scripture interpretation. It is an argument many centuries old, in fact Luther had the same argument with Erasmus, as to whether human reason was above Scripture or not. The Archbishop in his address places human reason above the inspired Word of God and places great authority on his own shoulders in deciding which parts of Scripture are the Word of God and which are not. This is in contradiction to the 39 Articles, the Preamble and Declaration and the promise he made at his ordination as a deacon, a priest and in his consecration as a bishop of the Church of Ireland. In a forthcoming article Reform Ireland will address the influence of Richard Hooker and his relevance for today in interpreting the Bible.
Reform Ireland calls upon the present members of the House of Bishop to clarify their positions on the issue of human sexuality. The fudge of their September 2003 Pastoral Letter will no longer suffice. It has become clear over recent times that there is now a co-ordinated effort to promote the acceptance of liberal-revisionist sexual agenda within the Church of Ireland. Reform Ireland are saddened that no ‘orthodox’ bishop has spoken out against this latest development but that once again it will be left to parochial clergy to give leadership to the majority of people within the Church of Ireland who are opposed to such innovations and departure from the Word of God and historical Church teaching.
Reform Ireland looks forward to the formation of a Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans within the Church of Ireland. More details of the same will follow in the autumn. We continue to call on all to pray for our church leaders, at all levels of the church, that they might remain faithful to the Word of God and to the promises they made at their ordinations.
7th July 2008 07th July 2008