All sexual acts outside marriage (including all homosexual acts) are viewed very seriously indeed in Scripture but false teaching which leads people into sexual sin is viewed even more seriously (Luke 17:1-2) and warnings about the affirmation and endorsement of sexual immorality (2 Peter 2 and Jude are poignant examples) are particularly strong.
Those who lead ”˜little ones’ astray (Matthew 18:6), like those they mislead, are in great danger. This is why it is so important for us to exercise godly discipline with them (Matthew 18:15-20; Luke 17:3-4; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19, 20) for their own sakes, as well as for those who they might mislead or have already misled.
The Apostle Paul urged his co-workers to ”˜command certain men not to teach false doctrines’ (1 Timothy 1:3) and to ”˜gently instruct in the hope that God will grant repentance’ (2 Timothy 2:25). He added that false teachers ”˜must be silenced’ (Titus 1:11).
These biblical standards of leadership apply to all of us who exercise leadership within the Christian Church.
The real test of Justin Welby’s leadership of the Church of England will be whether or not he allows the current situation – whereby senior leaders in his church both in these islands and across the Atlantic are teaching that homosexual acts are sometimes acceptable – to smoulder and fester.
If he fails to grasp this nettle in the interests of ”˜unity’ he may find himself presiding over a greatly reduced Anglican communion. I believe he will also find himself on the wrong side of history. But to deal with it firmly and graciously will require not only the wisdom of Solomon, but also the courage of Daniel.
He needs our prayers. But he also needs other Christians within his own denomination to help him be faithful, in both word and deed, to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul on this matter.
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