The Apostle Paul was so concerned about the church members at Corinth that he warned them - at great risk - to stop their narcissistic behaviours. "Do not be deceived," he wrote, "neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (Cor7:3-4.) (Cor6:9-10, Revised Standard Version).
Of course, many white liberal Christians cannot cope with such strong statements. Besides, nobody likes a mean God. They want a softer, gentler figure of authority. So it is "necessary" for some people to push their liberal interpretations. Others completely reject Paul's message in order to make the Gospel appear more contemporary. We want to drink as much as we like and sleep with whomever we like.
It is interesting to observe the responses to the gay clergy debate by a great many pastors from outside the West. They are not going to apologise for having a politically incorrect view on sexuality but nor should they have to. For instance, the Anglican Bishop of Egypt clearly believes that a homosexual pastor is an oxymoron. Will he change his mind? I don't think so. Again, why should he? Paul did not.
Like the growing number of conservative churches in Sydney, millions of African and Asian Anglicans share a more literal view of the Bible. By way of contrast, their liberal brothers and sisters in hip New Hampshire have more in common with the Hollywood celebrities that grace our big screen television sets. The cultural divide between Christians is hard to ignore and must be addressed.
Some "lavender tea" and "cucumber sandwich" Christians see themselves as compassionate white people with a mission to save the church from its old-fashioned values. They claim that they are helping us in the new century and that promoting gay bishops is a sign of change for their hopelessly conservative counterparts. But is compromise dressed up as grace just a beautiful lie? Have they "souled" out?
Liberal Anglicans point to a number of modern changes within the Uniting Church as proof that the acceptance of homosexual bishops is not divisive. Yet, here in the city of Geelong one Uniting church has already cut ties with its denomination. The Uniting Church is one of the fastest-dying and most inactive denominations in Australia. Only a ship of fools would ignore the fact that its "cool" social experiments are crumbling.
In a nutshell, liberal churches around the world have been dying for decades and I am not just referring to their inactive memberships. Is the message that Paul tried to get through to the thickheaded Corinthians a gentle reminder? In truth, the fundamentals of the Aposotle's point are still the same. It could have been said 2000 years before or after Christ and it could have been said in ancient Corinth or modern-day Sydney.
When J.D. Unwin studied 88 civilisations, the Oxford University anthropologist found that the very cultures that thrived with strict moral sexual codes also perished when those same morals were abandoned. In truth, the so-called sexual revolution that is happening within liberal churches is really about historical amnesia. It is also about self-congratulatory cliques tearing down boundaries.
Fortunately, millions of Anglicans around the world are not prepared to play "Happy Families" with the predominantly white gay establishment. Put simply, being faithful means not giving liberals the message their ears are burning to hear. It also means standing by our Third World brothers and sisters. At the end of the day, Asian and African Christians believe that we have to answer to God and not Hollywood. It is that clear?
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