Disclaimer: this article is intended to provide information and perspective on a current event. This article is not meant to be a persuasive piece supporting any particular position, it is only meant to stimulate the contemplation of the subject discussed within.
Last week, the Episcopal Church in the United States decided to give its bishops the freedom to bless (and now perform) same-sex marriages. This decision will likely cause further deterioration of the relationship between the Episcopalian Church and the world-wide Anglican communion. However, it is the effect that this event may have on traditional Christian beliefs that makes it interesting.
It has long been the belief of many Christian denominations that the Bible is the infallible word of God. This belief exists in spite of the fact that the books which compose the Bible were decided upon centuries after Christ walked the earth. As more Christian denominations were founded and more supplemental writings were developed to teach the members of each denomination how to interpret the perfect word of God, more and greater disparities developed between Christian denominations.
Many beliefs have developed among modern Christians that can seem questionable when compared with the teachings found in scripture. Some ministers have taught that the ten commandments are no longer applicable because Jesus gave a new law to love one another when Jesus himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) Some churches have given a specific date for the second coming when Jesus said “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) But no decision by the church has ever been so clearly in conflict with the Christian scriptures as the decision to allow same-sex marriages to be blessed by the church.
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Of course, the ultimate Biblical passage that teaches its followers that homosexuality is a terrible sin is the graphic story of those infamous cities Sodom and Gomorrha.
The question here is, “If churches bless same-sex marriage, shouldn’t they just erase these verses from the Bible?” After all, to teach the inerrant nature of the Bible to your members and then turn around and bless an action clearly forbidden by that same divine publication seems to be a bit hypocritical.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter what the church’s stance is on the issue of gay marriage as long as its teachings are consistent. As society becomes more accepting of homosexuality and church’s strive to attract younger members in order to fill their diminishing ranks, it is inevitable that homosexuals will find a more comfortable pew in which they can sit. But if the church is going to contradict the scriptures that it calls holy, it should at least teach its members that the scriptures aren’t quite perfect.
It should be interesting to see how the actions of the Episcopal Church affect the Christian church as a whole. Will other denominations cling to their traditional beliefs and the perfection of the Bible as their members leave to find more progressive religious movements? Or will they forsake their current perspective of the Bible in favor of giving their members the freedom to read, interpret, and follow the holy scriptures as they please?
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