When I was about six years old, I remember playing tee-ball. Of that time, little about the games themselves sticks out, yet one memory is clear. Three-quarters of the way through the season, I decided that rather than shaking the hands of the people on the other team, I would just spit on kid’s hand as I walked down the line.
It was funny until I did that the last game of the season. As usual, I spit on each of their hands, until I got to the end of the line. Their coach walked behind all their players. With my eyes down, aiming at each hand that went by, I did not notice the coach. He saw it and quickly horse-collared me. He marched me around until he found my parents.
Did I really do anything that bad? I asked myself. His firm grip told me I did.
My dad greeted him with a smile; they had been old high school friends. The coach did not return the smile, but gruffly asked, “Is this your boy??”
“Yeah,” my dad replied swallowing hard.
The coach told my dad what happened, and the look of warmth in my dad’s face flushed to burning anger.
Afterwards the teams met together to have ice cream and celebrate the end of the season. I did not enjoy this as I might have, staring into my sundae and dread what was coming when I got home.
In games you have sportsmanship. In games you have rules and discipline. If these are abandoned, if the boundaries are burned down, there is chaos; the game is no fun, the positive is not affirmed, the negative is not reproved and as such, detracts from the whole.
But where is the relevance between this story and today’s events?
Well, about a week ago, the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church USA) voted that local congregations may appoint homosexual clergy and church leaders, if they so choose. Like me spitting on the hands of other players, the PCUSA assembly spit on the hands of all who seek to live godly lives within this denomination. Where before local bodies would face some sort of reprimand for endorsing homosexual clergy, now local leaders have received consent to appoint such leaders, metaphorically spitting on the hands of those who maintain the standard of godliness for those with oversight of the congregation. The vote has said that it is ok sportsmanship for some to shake hands while others spit on those passing by and then spit on the Word of God and say, No thank you, we have progressed and become more tolerant and we have found truth and right is not rooted in your archaic laws, but in our feelings, inclinations, and predispositions.
Here, as opposed to a child’s tee-ball game, the stakes are not loss of an ice cream cone and a pat on the back at the end of a game; here the stakes are the gaining of or loss of soul. A church assembly condoning sexual immorality and leaving the God who gave them does not liberate man from being faithful to God’s Word.
“And [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,” Luke 17:1-3.
This is clear, but the PCUSA paraphrase of verse three might read, “if your brother sins, ordain him.” The message is that that those in leadership have the responsibility not to endorse or be posterboys for sin (Galatians 6:19-21), but they ought to be extremely circumspect in their own lives (James 3:1), watching that they do not cause the little ones to sin. For all the little ones seeking God and striving night and day for relief from their burdens, from a heavy heart, a guilty conscience, a stalking past of abuse, a sexually deviant background, the solution is not to permit more behaviors among the shepherds of the church, but present the little ones with the God who asks to shoulder their sins and make them new creations.
Please look here for a statement of those in the church body who have spoken against this divisive ruling: http://www.presbycoalition.org/GA5statement.htm