In a world that reveres same-sex relationships, abortion, transgenderism and other unmoral conduct, many churches go with the flow.
There are even gay and lesbian pastors, and abortion-affirming church services.
An Irish pastor said the leaders of his church denomination responded by drawing a line in the sand.
“A credible profession of faith is something that goes to the heart of Christian discipleship,” said the Very Rev. Dr. Stafford Carson, the convener of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Doctrine Committee.
The General Assembly of his church, he said, recently “reaffirmed what the Presbyterian Church has always taught, namely that everyone who professes Jesus Christ as Lord are committing themselves to being faithful and obedient followers of Jesus Christ and his teaching.”
“This means that what we profess with our lips, we affirm by the way we live our lives. Ultimately the life of the Christian is lived under the Lordship of Christ,” he said.
His comments came in a column in the Belfast Telegraph.
He said the assembly, comprised of teaching and governing elders from congregations across Ireland, passed 100 resolutions on various subjects.
“As well as discussing a wide range of issues that included climate change, the political situation here, the situation facing Christians overseas and the challenges facing our education system, we also discussed the Doctrine Committee’s report on what we understand to be a ‘credible profession of faith’ – something that applies to all, regardless of background or orientation – and who want to be communicant members of our Church or have their children baptized.”
He explained the report “was not about preventing anyone from attending worship, coming into church, receiving communion, or having access to pastoral care.”
“Neither was it about being attracted to someone of the same sex.”
Instead, it was to provide guidance to ministers.
“It is important to remember that marriage and sexual behavior are not the only areas where Christians may fall short of God’s will for their lives, and our report was very careful to point this out,” he wrote.
“We recognize that following Jesus Christ as Lord often challenges us at the deepest level of our beings. That is why many of the personal issues of Christian discipleship are best discussed confidentially with wise and Godly pastors and friends, rather than being made a matter for public debate and comment through social media.
“The church offers support and love in the name of Christ to everyone, irrespective of a person’s views, opinions or lifestyle, lovingly pointing people to God’s truth and calling all to live their lives in conformity with His Word.”
He said it may appear the church is out of step sometimes.
“That’s not surprising, since the days of the early church, the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord has often placed Christians at odds with their surrounding culture,” he said. “That is why the New Testament writers encourage us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). We are called to honor and love Christ, even if this means we do come into conflict with society’s prevailing views on this and other issues.”
He said the Bible “makes clear what God’s will is for us as sexual beings, and it speaks unambiguously about the nature and purpose of marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.”
“As followers of Christ, we cannot ignore this clear teaching. Jesus’ own teaching, and his attitude toward the Scriptures, means that they are our final authority in all matters of faith and practice,” he wrote.
For those who are Christian, he said, “the teaching of Christ in Holy Scripture determines what is appropriate and that is what is reflected in the report of the Doctrine Committee.”
The Christian Institute endorsed his view, contending a profession of faith is impossible for same-sex couples, because “their outward conduct and lifestyle is at variance with a life of obedience to Christ.”