Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Anglican Diocese Faced With Legal Battle

The “Anglican diocese faced with legal battle.” So ran the headline of a Feb 25, 2008 article of a Canadian newspaper. What is the issue? Apparently a local Anglican congregation near Toronto voted unanimously to split with the Anglican Church of Canada because of issues that they believed were fundamental to their faith. It seems that the Anglican Church of Canada is, among other things, supporting same-sex marriages, which the local congregation opposes.

There are a number of issues here that bear noting. First, there is the issue of a so-called Christian organization supporting same-sex marriage. Second, there is the legal action being taken by one party in the dispute against the other before the secular courts. Third, there is the further factions in the Body of Christ. Fourth, none of this comes as any surprise given that a denominational association is entirely man-made and not God ordained. Here’s a couple quick thoughts on each of these four points.

Same Sex Marriage
At the risk of coming across as "homophobic," which I certainly am not, the Bible makes it pretty clear that the “homosexual offenders” will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10). If that is true, then the local Anglican congregation being referred to in the article is perhaps right in taking a stand on these grounds. As for the Anglican diocese that supports same sex marriages, apparently they're either reading from a different Bible, or simply interpreting certain verses differently.

Having said that, God does love the "homosexual offenders" just as much as He loves the heterosexual "offenders." If God loves them, then so must we. I do not believe, however, that homosexuality was ever a part of God's plan for humanity; the human anatomy by itself should prove that. The bottom line: Love all people, regardless who they are and regardless of their lifestyle. IF there is to be any judgment on the subject, leave it to God. Do I agree with homosexuality? No. Am I striving to love the individuals who identify themselves as homosexuals? Absolutely, "Yes." As believers that is all that we are called to do; Love. At the end of the day, I won't judge anyone but myself.

Legal Action
The Christian has no business taking another Christian to a secular court. The Apostle Paul said, “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” (1 Corinthians 6: 1). Believers are to judge disputes between believers themselves. Secular courts have no business in the church. What could a secular judge or jury possible know about things pertaining to the church? Nothing. Paul says further, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6: 7).

Yes, the local congregation has paid all the bills pertaining to their building without help, apparently, from the diocese. Now the diocese wants them out and they want to take over the building. Those responsible will one day answer to God for that. The New Testament example is to turn the other cheek. Jesus said, “If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” (Matthew 5: 40). Sure, it is easier said than done, but that is the Biblical example that we ought to strive for.

Factions in the Body of Christ
Unfortunately church history is full of factions among its members. This group takes exception to that group’s doctrines, and the other group can’t agree with the first group’s doctrines. Next thing you know there is a church split. We all think that we are right and they are wrong. The truth of the matter is that, “now we see but a poor reflection” (1 Corinthians 13: 12). If any one of us dares to think that we have this walk of faith fully figured out, we are sadly mistaken.

The real issue is a lack of love one for another. The Bible calls us “carnal” or “worldly.” We are self-centered creatures that want, above all else, to have our own way. Do we even still know what the word “reconciliation” means? If we really learned to love one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord, regardless of doctrinal views, there would be far fewer church splits. Church factions are listed among the “acts of the sinful nature” in Galatians 5: 19-20. Every time there is another church split, it is a sure sign that her members are not living by the fruit of the Spirit, but rather are walking according to their sinful nature. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4: 20). There is the sobering truth of the matter. We claim to love God. That is only true if we also love one another. Otherwise, the Bible says we are liars.

Denominational Associations
Nowhere in the Bible can we find any support for denominations or denominational associations or boards. Such groupings are strictly man-made and not God ordained. Whenever a local church joins a denomination they cease to be a scriptural church and they become a sect. Any kind of denominational affiliation is sectarian because it further divides the Body of Christ.

Paul makes this pretty clear in 1 Corinthians 1: 10-17. He urges believers to agree with one another so that there may be “no divisions” among us. He asks, “Is Christ divided?” Of course not! Then why do we faction His Body along denominational lines?

Finally ...
So, does the aforementioned newspaper article surprise me? No, not at all. I’m saddened by it, but not surprised. It is a man-made organization and as such will naturally behave carnally. I would encourage the local congregation to really seek God in this and to continue to gather together, focussing on love and relationships, regardless of the legal outcome. God may still have a purpose for them in this.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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