The past few weeks and months have reminded us of the need for faithful biblical teaching and faithful biblical living. Several nations including Ireland, France, and most recently the United States, have legalized same sex marriage.
In light of the ongoing challenge of what The Cape Town Commitment describes as ‘disordered sexuality’, I would like to share a relevant excerpt that represents some of the best biblical thought and practical Christian response. The Cape Town Commitment, crafted by some of the top scholars and leaders of the global evangelical church, is a statement of our conviction and call to action in global mission in the years ahead.
Walk in love, rejecting the idolatry of disordered sexuality (The Cape Town Commitment II-E-2)
God’s design in creation is that marriage is constituted by the committed, faithful relationship between one man and one woman, in which they become one flesh in a new social unity that is distinct from their birth families, and that sexual intercourse as the expression of that ‘one flesh’ is to be enjoyed exclusively within the bond of marriage. This loving sexual union within marriage, in which ‘two become one’, reflects both Christ’s relationship with the Church and also the unity of Jew and Gentile in the new humanity.
Paul contrasts the purity of God’s love with the ugliness of counterfeit love that masquerades in disordered sexuality and all that goes along with it. Disordered sexuality of all kinds, in any practice of sexual intimacy before or outside marriage as biblically defined, is out of line with God’s will and blessing in creation and redemption. The abuse and idolatry that surrounds disordered sexuality contributes to wider social decline, including the breakdown of marriages and families and produces incalculable suffering of loneliness and exploitation. It is a serious issue within the Church itself, and it is a tragically common cause of leadership failure.
We recognize our need for deep humility and consciousness of failure in this area. We long to see Christians challenging our surrounding cultures by living according to the standards to which the Bible calls us.
A) We strongly encourage all pastors:
- To facilitate more open conversation about sexuality in our churches, declaring positively the good news of God’s plan for healthy relationships and family life, but also addressing with pastoral honesty the areas where Christians share in the broken and dysfunctional realities of their surrounding culture;
- To teach God’s standards clearly, but to do so with Christ’s pastoral compassion for sinners, recognising how vulnerable we all are to sexual temptation and sin;
- To strive to set a positive example in living by biblical standards of sexual faithfulness;
B) As members of the Church we commit ourselves:
- To do all we can in the Church and in society to strengthen faithful marriages and healthy family life;
- To recognize the presence and contribution of those who are single, widowed, or childless, to ensure the church is a welcoming and sustaining family in Christ, and to enable them to exercise their gifts in the full range of the church’s ministries;
- To resist the multiple forms of disordered sexuality in our surrounding cultures, including pornography, adultery and promiscuity;
- To seek to understand and address the deep heart issues of identity and experience which draw some people into homosexual practice; to reach out with the love, compassion and justice of Christ, and to reject and condemn all forms of hatred, verbal or physical abuse, and victimization of homosexual people;
- To remember that by God’s redemptive grace no person or situation is beyond the possibility of change and restoration.