This morning on Friday October 13th, 2017 I wrote to my Diocesan Bishop ( of the Anglican church in Jamaica), The Rt. Rev. Howard Gregory.
The subject was the contribution of the Primate of the West Indies, His Grace The Rt. Rev. John Holder to The Intimate Conference. The reason; the report on the front page of The Daily Gleaner, and a particular quote.
Citing scripture after scripture in his attempt to explain the Bible’s take on the controversial, and still criminal, offence in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Commonwealth, Holder said that the practice of homosexuality has long been part of the human sexual experience, predating the modern concepts of sexuality
My reaction! Disappointment. Why?
1. Why address a conference in Jamaica on a known controversial topic, and not, as one would expect of the ‘ Chief Shepherd ‘, first engage the flock?
2. My own experience, both locally and the USA, with priests who do not regard homosexuality as a sin. And who justify their position by promoting a doctrine which declares that God’s love for all humans is all that matters.
3. That the select quote would leave one with the impression, that the Bishop’s understanding of the genesis of homosexuality is at variance with the widely Christian perspective of the Fall. One of four foundations of Christian thought on ‘ how the world turns: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Judgment.
And before I wrote, during my #earlymorningdevotions after I opened randomly, Chris Tiegreen’s Devotional Book, The One Year Wonder of the Cross, and found this:
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5.
A passage of Scripture which was used to conclude the note to my Bishop. And which underscores the importance of the role sin played, every kind of sin, including homosexuality, in God’s decision, ‘in the fullness of time’, to send his Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, because of His great and unfathomable love, to suffer and die on Calvary. For the sins of all mankind!
Then, this evening on Nationwide Radio, I heard the Archbishop, engaging in a very civilized and gracious discussion, with the Head of Alliance of Evangelical Churches in Jamaica, Bishop Alvin Bailey.
This time my reaction was beyond disappointment. Amazed!
Why? With my own two ears I heard an explanation from a reputable source, I had heard it before from spurious and self-serving sources, that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with homosexuality. But with them being ‘ inhospitable ‘.
That Jesus welcomes all who were outcasts of society, and therefore so should we. ( Go ye and sin no more …..your many sins have been forgiven for you loved much…..seems to have escaped the attention of those who subscribe to such a limited, and increasingly popular, view of God’s love.
And that, in his view, when asked the question, the contribution of Bishop Howard Gregory on the repealing of the Buggery Law, represented the position of the Anglican church in Jamaica. An answer which was surprisingly uninformed, as Bishop Gregory had been very clear. That his contribution to Parliament was a ‘ personal’ one, and did not represent the position of the Diocese of Jamaica.
I was, however, very impressed with Bishop Holder’s calm and measured responses to an accusation that he was an ‘ apostate’. And one who was a supporter of the ‘ Gay Agenda’. Also with his insistence that dialogue and discussions were critical, if people who held opposing views were ever going to arrive at a common position on how to deal with a difficult issue. He also refuted the impression that he was in the ‘ employ’ of any lobby group, and insisted that he was invited as an Old Testament scholar.
Finally the Primate, admitted that, we in the Caribbean, were not yet at the same place, on this issue, as people in other countries were.
To which on another program, on CVM TV, Bishop Alvin Bailey responded, that the churches’ role was not to achieve consensus, but to present the gospel with a hope that all sinners might repent. And accept the free gift of salvation; ” while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
No doubt the Lord knew how this conversation would have affected me. And thus He prepared me for it. How?
Reflect with me on these postings on Twitter and Facebook last night:
We are not here to woo and win men to God we are here to present the Gospel which in individual cases will mean condemnation or salvation OC
The bedrock of Christianity is repentance #OswaldChambers
The religion of Jesus Christ is not a religion of ethical truth, but of Redemption #OswaldChambers
Everything that has been touched by sin and the devil has been redeemed. Unless we have faith in the Redemption…..
….all our activities are fussy impertinences which tell God He is doing nothing #OswaldChambers https://t.co/tT3kly8VEw
Warning ! ( My words) Social service that is not based on the Cross of Christ is the cultured blasphemy of civilized life against God; for it denies that God has done anything, and puts human effort as the only way whereby the world will be redeemed – Oswald Chambers
The final quote touched me the most. And is so contextually on target. For unless we begin with the Cross of Christ, where the full extent of God’s transforming and redeeming love, transects with the full extent of God’s wrath and Judgment against Sin, and not a desire to uphold human rights, or bring the gospel to sinners, in and by itself, we are missing the mark.
And have no power to fight against evil, to promote Justice, and no sustained ability to have mercy. And to forgive those who persecute us, and call us all kinds of names!
For the Word of God is true. That the kingdom of heaven is not about talk, whether of the Intimate variety or publicly on Radio or TV, but about Power. And about Righteousness and Peace in the Holy Spirit. And entry to which kingdom requires, not a Canadian passport, not a Jamaican passport, not a US passport, not consensus on whether or not we ought to repeal the Buggery Law, but ‘ wedding clothes ‘. The central message in the Gospel appointed in the worldwide Anglican Church for Sunday!
And only those who have been bought by the Blood of the Lamb of God, who acknowledge and accept this free gift, grace, from a merciful God, will be able to ‘ walk in Jerusalem just like John’, with Wedding Clothes. A privilege and joy which begins, once we repent and accept Christ as Lord and Savior! Right here on earth.
Otherwise what’s the point of it all. That a man or woman should gain the whole world, win every debate, have the support of many on Twitter and Facebook, and yet stand to lose his or her soul. If they don’t repent and accept Christ’s Redemption! What’s the point. Really!
Prayers which came to me over the past week:
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s).
O breathe on me breath of God;
Fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love,
And do what thou wouldst do.
Will thou not turn again and quicken us O Lord, that thy people may rejoice in thee…
Saint Augustine states: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”.
At 4:30 am, the Lord woke me up to read this:
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, Lord , teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord , your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord , are good.
Psalm 25:1-7 NIV
This verse was highlighted in my Bible, from years ago; and still so important today.
“Show me your ways, Lord , teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
A scriptural validation of a prayer from a saint of old, to which I was drawn this week.
Lord, Speak to me, that I may speak
Francis Ridley Havergal
Verse: Isaiah 6:8
Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of thy tone;
As thou hast sought, so let me seek
Thy erring children lost and lone.
O teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things thou dost impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.
O fill me with thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart o’erflow
In kindling thought and glowing word,
The love to tell, thy praise to show.
O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as thou wilt, and when and where,
Until thy blessed face I see,
The rest, the joy, thy glory share.