Whither the ACNA? Much will depend on its ability to keep the theological and the pastoral together.
First, we should avoid blaming our Christian heritage or the contemporary church for singling out the sin of homosexuality. Such self-blame is understandable: It is a way of dealing with the emotional hardship caused by same-sex attraction. But this introspection is, for the most part, unwarranted. Traditional Christian morality does not single out homosexuality, whereas making it part of one’s identity does. Besides, power roles have reversed: In today’s therapeutic culture, insisting on one’s gay identity mostly gets applauded, while it requires great courage to speak and write biblically about homosexuality. And while greed, adultery, etc. are all wrong, Scripture hardly supports the notion that all sins are of equal weight.
Third, we should keep in mind that the primary pastoral context of sin is alienation from God. If disordered sexual desires lead us away from a right relationship with God, then that is the key pastoral issue that we must address. The primary pastoral context, then, is not the feeling of exclusion from fellow believers as a result of sexual identity. It’s not that the latter doesn’t powerfully function; it obviously does. But it does so because of the way we have wedded sexual desire to human identity—a unique characteristic of today’s Western therapeutic culture. Carl Trueman’s recent book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, is a must-read to untangle the cultural web that we have spun for ourselves and a welcome antidote to the inexorable drift toward acceptance of disordered desire.
Please note, I am not encouraging us to ignore the pastoral. Quite the opposite: I am convinced we’re often not pastoral enough.
Hans Boersma chimes in on the ACNA debate: "Traditional Christian morality does not single out homosexuality, whereas making it part of one’s identity does." https://t.co/jGTCEgtLzY
— Matt Kennedy (@lambeth981) March 5, 2021
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.