Uniting Church of Australia at the Crossroads

Following is in response to the Uniting Church of Australia consideration of Same Sex Marriage, particularly as proposed to be supported at the next Assembly meeting in July 2018. Thank God, there are those present who will be opposing such a move as it goes much deeper than the issue of same sex marriage.

Introduction and Background

In response to the Uniting Church of Australia latest progression away from orthodox Christian doctrine, through the vehicle of same-sex marriage recognition attempt at the next (15th) Assembly in 2018, the following are major reasons why this should be rejected, and the actions that should follow.

  1. Placing church administration and man above God, by redefining His love – God is love, and He poured it out in to us by His Spirit, and He clearly sees it is the greatest of all commandments. It is clearly central to His character, and that is why it permeates the whole of the Bible, and in fact He has gone to great trouble to reveal His love by giving us 66 books in the Scriptures to help understand its many ways. It is therefore important to ensure any view of love clearly defines itself against the Bible, and not interpreted outside of Biblical orthodoxy (see also item 3 below). The often said statement that God loves the sinner, but not the sin, and so to must we is true. God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is grace and truth, mercy and justice, and His throne founded on righteousness and justice, and thus we also must understand love. This divine love cannot be brought down to humankinds understanding, which seems to be happening by those within the UCA supporting same sex marriage. Like adultery, homosexuality is a sin, and living in a lifestyle of such is in no way condoned by the Bible, neither can one say that because someone loves another in a gay relationship, does that justify such a lifestyle or indeed marriage of those two. For the love they express such that it allows homosexual marriage and partner relationships is not one defined within the full counsel of God’s word. It is the love of God that conquers a multitude of sin, not this kind of love of man which is clearly defined as one outside of the Godly loving covenantal marriage relationship – which is between a man and a woman according to the Bible (see item 2 below). That is not to say there is not love between ‘gay’ people, however it is not the type that is supported in the marital covenant, and is generally misinterpreted by them as such due to psychological damage caused through abuse, socio-environmental conditioning, or parenting issues, e.g. confusing the unrequited love between a mother and daughter, or father and son, siblings, and friends, etc., with one with a partner of the same sex.
  2. Contrary to broad Christian church and Biblical doctrine – Marriage is a matter that enters into the “Substance of the faith”, because it permeates[1] the whole of Scripture, undergirds other central doctrines of the Church, is necessary for explaining Christ’s relationship[2] to the Church, and central to understanding salvation history as a whole, and so forth. Marriage enters into the substance of the faith because it acts as an Architectural Doctrine or a load-bearing wall. As such, it cannot be removed without doing significant irreparable damage to the overarching structure of the house. That is, all of the other historic doctrines of the Christian faith cannot be left intact should this doctrine be excised. In additions, the arguments put forward to support same sex marriage generally seem to attempt to redefine the Trinity and the complete Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ contrary to biblical, Holy Catholic and Apostolic church doctrine and teaching (as seems to again be occurring in the report developed by the Assembly Standing Committee on the matter of marriage and same sex relationships). This is presumably the strategy behind such a liberal interpretation of marriage and relationship, by seeking to have endorsement of a very liberal (cult like) theology, and perhaps is why there is very poor discipline, by some Synods, of ministry agents in the UCA who are perverting the truths of Christianity within congregations. This may be the strongest reason the Assembly, and the UCA as a whole, should reject the proposal and intent of the report the Standing Committee on same sex marriage, and rather reaffirm the headship of Christ[3], His eternal divine[4] nature, that He is the one[5] door to salvation, His relationship to the Bride of Christ[6], and the Holy and mysterious truth of the Trinity[7].
  3. The centrality of Scriptures is being rejected by those supporting same sex marriage and relationships – The canon of Scripture, should be seen as the counsel of God, and the ultimate benchmark for understanding and hearing the Word of God[8]. The Bible is the written Word of God. While God continues to speak to us as the body of Christ, and individually today, ultimately anything heard should be tested against the Bible, and if contrary to the Holy Scriptures, be rejected. This one of the key essential tenants of the church, and yet is the very thing that is effectively being rejected by those supporting same sex marriage/relationships, and other doctrinal errors (such as the Godhead of the trinity, the centrality of Jesus Christ, etc.) now prevalent in the UCA. Orthodox Biblical interpretation of the Bible can in no real way be seen to support homosexuality, the principal arguments for same-sex lifestyle are generally supported by a redefining of love, and sins associated with sexual immorality, outside of the Bible, and thus leading to error[9] and the spirit of this age.
  4. Contrary to the UCA doctrinal view, and Basis of Union – The approach to the matters of redefining marriage, and indeed the previous decision at the Assembly level regarding support of homosexual ministers, have fundamentally breached the doctrines of the Uniting Church in the departure from the Word of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and away from the central tenants of the broader Holy Catholic and Apostolic church[10]. In addition, they have contravened key tenants of the Basis of Union, by not following through requirements of discussion amongst all the councils of the denomination, where congregational/church, presbytery, and Synod councils have not been appropriately consulted[11], or being asked their discerned view on this matter.
  5. Accelerating the churches decline – The continual compromise on Biblical truths, and distancing from the headship of Christ, and His teachings, is a key contributor to the decline of the denomination in Australia, making it the fastest dying of all mainline churches, and in fact most, in the nation…against a back drop of where some are maintaining their size and community impact, or in fact growing. The national assembly level of the UCA is not really affirming[12] the teachings of Jesus Christ as attested in scripture, despite central tenants[13] of the Basis of Union. The attached document regarding the observations of the UCA providing more on this issues, and acknowledges that are aspects also see the UCA tearing away from the vine of Christ and dying, e.g. lack of the dynamic of the Holy Spirit, pastoral and controlled based administration rather than apostolic and prophetic leadership, etc.
  6. Creates a further schism in the Uniting Church – highlighting that much of that unified the denomination is now dissipating, with one side more focussed on the Biblical orthodox Christian witness, and the centrality of Christ; and the other a very liberal theology, which support multiple beliefs, relegates the Bible to a historical document, and is principally focussed on the spirit of humanism, and a socialist ideal. In reality the spirit of compromise[14] has been a large part of the so called unity in the church, rather than by His Holy Spirit in Christ, and this has led to a lukewarm church[15] as a milky water of beliefs, diminishes the passions of many. The continued push for gay recognition within the life of the UCA for many years, principally on the basis of social justice and supported by very liberal theology, is probably one of the main forces of division in its midst. The inability for the church leadership to deal with this force has been the one of the other ones, all of which have played well in to Satan’s schemes.
  7. Poor scientific basis – there is broad rejection of the concept of a ‘gay gene’, and it is disappointing that this should be again raised as an issue where all longitudinal studies clearly state there is no real scientific basis to support genetic disposition to homosexuality, rather it is more likely a result of socio-environmental[16] factors, weakness of the flesh, or physical or mental abuse. See attached, letter from the President of the American College of Paediatricians, Tom Benton, to American School Superintendents on March 31, 2010, as just one an example of the professional medical and scientific issues raised against the statements of a gay gene.

Actions

Given the aforementioned items, and the foundational and doctrinal issues behind the proposals of the Assembly Standing Committee (based on the work of the Doctrinal Working Group) on marriage and same-sex relationships, it is important that the following occur at the 15th Assembly. These actions below, are further necessitated as for too long the scourge of orthodox doctrinal undermining, through the guise of tolerance, has been the bane of the UCA, where for instance the continuing push for same sex marriage recognition, with its associated very liberal theological support, has been a continued force in the UCA for close to thirty years or more, and has represented such an authority as to reject those candidating for ministry who were opposed to same-sex marriage (this can be personally attested to). Regardless, it has been the case that for most if not all of the life of the UCA since in union 40 years ago, there has been a cohort within intent of forcing a theological and doctrinal stance fundamental opposed to the intent of the Basis of Union, and the orthodox Christian doctrines of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic churches.

Actions proposed for the 15th Assembly:

  1. Reject out rightly, with no further consideration, any proposal that support same-sex marriage in any form
  2. Repent of allowing the church to slip in to such error in doctrine, and teaching, and causing many children in the faith to slip away from the church and Christ; and creating division in the UCA
  3. Re-confirm the already agreed definition (e.g. as per 2012 statement) of marriage being between a man and woman, and the special sign it provides to us of the relationship between Christ and His Church
  4. Re-affirm the centrality of Christ, as our God and Saviour; the head of all, including the Church; being eternally God, and one with the Godhead, and Holy Trinity; and the Bible (Old and New Testament – the written word of God) as the central Scriptures through which we hear God’s voice, and the benchmark/plumbline against which we test the other words we sense from God in His many ways of speaking to us.
  5. For those in the Assembly, ministry agents, and congregations in the UCA, unable to agree to the above due to personal convictions or religious views, be asked to leave the UCA, and consideration given to congregations being able to access some aspect of their assets (and associated liabilities – including those general to UCA) to start their own religious denomination or church.

IMPORTANT: Should the 15th Assembly support the recommendations of the Assembly Standing Committee proposals regarding same-sex marriage, and effectively change the principals of Union due to the purported doctrinal support, then all those Synods, presbyteries, church councils and congregations, with associated members and ministry agents, and associations such as the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, that do not support these recommendations and the associated theological intent, should be supported in leaving the Uniting Church of Australia with all associated assets and liabilities, to form a new denomination based largely on the Basis of Union, with some further clarifying doctrinal statements to deal with the errors it has allowed since inception.

This matter is really part of a bigger issue in the church, see this article: https://kingdomassociates.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/what-can-save-the-uniting-church-of-australia/

It is this author’s, after much prayerful consideration, a decision to support same-sex marriage (or to allow it to be continually entertained through continued dialogue), and the increasing tolerance of a most non-unified set of doctrinal views, is something that will speed, and has considerably contributed to the decline of the UCA -already the fastest dying mainline denomination in Australia and Queensland (see paper on the Observations of the Uniting Church in Australia). It would appear separations or structural changes of some sort will be the only way parts of it will remain intact in the future.

As we are part of the UCA vine this decision on same-sex will impact members and congregations eventually, even if they do not support same-sex marriage, and certainly the major divisions caused by those continuing to push for it, are effecting them. Perhaps by making such a clear separation both movements within the UCA will see growth, and certainly such pruning will reveal the one cleaved to the vine of Christ[17], as life will remain[18] and grow.

This issue, further compounded by the approach to the redress scheme, will likely cause more people and congregations, to leave the UCA, certainly supported by the commentary now appearing online. Perhaps this is understandable as may be they believe it t is more important to make a stand for what they see as righteousness and the Word of God, rather than continuing to compromise. In reality it is really revealing the Uniting Church in Australia, is anything but united, and rather than being united in Christ and His word, as our One head, and by the Spirit of God, is largely now only united through the administrative abilities of man, and comprises of beliefs that are increasingly mutually opposed.

This has no doubt seen growth in other churches, and separation in to different groups really is the principle behind the creation of the Protestant church, where issues of doctrinal error (and some politics) saw it formed. I do not think you can say necessarily Satan wins in that, as dispersion has been a growth strategy since the Book of Acts[19]. If people believe split should never occur, then perhaps they should go back to the Roman Catholic or Armenian/Greek Orthodox Churches. In the end, the devoted ones in Christ are all in His body regardless of what denomination they sit, however pruning and cutting off of dead branch does come as well. We can only pray that as the Body of Christ we all continue to love and support each other, with our focus on Christ, as we are all part of our Father’s family. God will extend His kingdom, and sends out His children to do so, not held together by church administrative systems, rather by obedience to Him, and connected to Him through love and relationship with Christ, and each other, by the Holy Spirit. Trusting our heavenly Father does work out His good thing even in the midst of separation.

Note: Scriptural reference are provided largely from the NKJV version of the Bible, and while not exhaustive, hopefully provide the Biblical underpinning of the various theological items.

Attachment: The following is a letter from the President of the American College of Pediatricians, Tom Benton, to American School Superintendents on March 31, 2010

Dear School Superintendent,

The American College of Pediatricians shares with you, your staff, parents, and other professional organizations the common goal of providing a healthful environment for your students. We are increasingly concerned, however, that in many cases efforts to help students who exhibit same-sex attractions and/or gender confusion are based on incomplete or inaccurate information…

Adolescence is a time of upheaval and impermanence. Adolescents experience confusion about many things, including sexual orientation and gender identity, and they are particularly vulnerable to environmental influences.

Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25… the majority of sexually-questioning youth ultimately adopt a heterosexual identity.

Even children with Gender Identity Disorder (when a child desires to be the opposite sex) will typically lose this desire by puberty, if the behavior is not reinforced. Researchers, Zucker and Bradley, also maintain that when parents or others allow or encourage a child to behave and be treated as the opposite sex, the confusion is reinforced and the child is conditioned for a life of unnecessary pain and suffering. Even when motivated by noble intentions, schools can ironically play a detrimental role if they reinforce this disorder.

In dealing with adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction, it is essential to understand there is no scientific evidence that an individual is born “gay” or “transgender.” Instead, the best available research points to multiple factors – primarily social and familial – that predispose children and adolescents to homosexual attraction and/or gender confusion.  It is also critical to understand that these conditions can respond well to therapy. Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the Genome Project, has stated that while homosexuality may be genetically influenced, it is “… not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.” He also states [that] “…the prominent role[s] of individual free will choices [has] a profound effect on us.”

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) recently released a landmark survey and analysis of 125 years of scientific studies and clinical experience dealing with homosexuality.  This report, What Research Shows, draws three major conclusions: (1) individuals with unwanted same sex attraction often can be successfully treated; (2) there is no undue risk to patients from embarking on such therapy and (3), as a group, homosexuals experience significantly higher levels of mental and physical health problems compared to heterosexuals.

Among adolescents who claim a “gay” identity, the health risks include higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and suicide.  Encouragingly, the longer students delay self-labeling as “gay,” the less likely they are to experience these health risks.  In fact, for each year an adolescent delays, the risk of suicide alone decreases by 20 per cent.

In light of these facts, it is clear that when well-intentioned but misinformed school personnel encourage students to “come out as gay” and be “affirmed,” there is a serious risk of erroneously labeling students (who may merely be experiencing transient sexual confusion and/or engaging in sexual experimentation).  Premature labeling may then lead some adolescents into harmful homosexual behaviors that they otherwise would not pursue.

Optimal health and respect for all students will only be achieved by first respecting the rights of students and parents to accurate information and to self-determination.  It is the school’s legitimate role to provide a safe environment for respectful self-expression for all students.  It is not the school’s role to diagnose and attempt to treat any student’s medical condition, and certainly not a school’s role to “affirm” a student’s perceived personal sexual orientation.

[1] Gen. 2:24; Gen. 19:12-24; Lev. 18:22,25; Lev. 20:13; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:5-8; John 8:11; Romans 1:22-27; 1 Cor. 6:9,18; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:18,19; Eph. 5:31; 1 Tim. 1:10; Noting in Biblical times and context Sodom/homosexuality is directly associated with sexual immorality

[2] Song of songs 4:1; 5:1; Is. 62:5; Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-10; Luke 5:34,35; John 2:1-12; 3:29; Eph. 31,32; Rev. 21:2,9; 22:17

[3] Ps. 2; Ps. 8:6; Ps. 110:1; Matt. 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:27; Rom, 12:5; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18; 2:9,10; Heb. 2:7,8

[4] John 1:1-4, 14; John 8,14; Acts 2; Col. 1:15-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:3; 2 Peter 1:1

[5] Is. 42:1,6,7; 53:11; Dan. 9:24,25; Matt. 1:21; John 1:14,17; 8:32; John 10:7-9; 11:25; 14:6; 18:37; Acts 4:11,12; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:8; 10:19,20;

[6] Matt. 22:2; 25:10; Luke 12:36; 14:15; John 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-33; Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2,9; 22:17

[7] Gen. 1:26; Matt. 28:19; John 14-16; Acts 1:4; 2:33; Col. 2:9; 1 John 5:7

[8] Ps. 19:7; Ps. 111:7,10; Ps. 119:105,139; Matt. 5:17,18; 24:35; Luke 16:16,17; John 17:17; Rom. 4:23; 15:4; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; 4:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21; 3:14-16

[9] 1 Tim. 4:1-5

[10] Item 2 BoU, ‘Of the Whole Church’

[11] clause 39(a) of the Constitution

[12] For examples decisions made at the 11th Assembly; and the continuing tolerance, with no discipline by the national assembly or Synods, of ministry agents who believe many roads lead to heaven, and do not attest the Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

[13] Item 3 BoU, ‘Built Upon the One Lord Jesus Christ’

[14] Rev. 2:12-17

[15] Rev. 3:14-22

[16] http://family.org.au/legalizing-same-sex-marriage-will-increase-prevalence-of-homosexuality/; http://family.org.au/the-homosexual-anti-bullying-program-for-schools-an-unconscionable-strategem/; http://www.newsweek.com/being-gay-your-dna-scientists-keep-trying-find-genetic-basis-sexual-741084; https://www.trueorigin.org/gaygene01.php

[17] Matt. 3:10; 15:13; John 15:1-8; 17:23; Eph. 3:17; 1 John 2:14

[18] John 8:31.32; 14:13; 15:7,8; 16:23; 1 John 2:14

[19] Acts 8:4 (Matt. 10:23); Phil. 1:12-18

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