Steve Chalke recently, ‘conducted a dedication and blessing service following the Civil Partnership of two wonderful gay Christians.’ Why? He wanted,
‘to extend to these people what I would do to others: the love and support of our local church. Too often, those who seek to enter an exclusive, same-sex relationship have found themselves stigmatised and excluded by the Church. I have come to believe this is an injustice and out of step with God’s character as seen through Christ.’
That a Civil Partnership is not a marriage does not appear to concern him, to say nothing of the plain condemnation of homosexual practice in Scripture. The overriding concern for him is simply: ‘the Church has a God-given responsibility to include those who have for so long found themselves excluded.‘
Inclusion is all, repentance and conversion (changes of belief and behaviour) and the plain commands of Scripture don’t seem to matter. Chalke has decided homosexual relationships within a Civil Partnership are acceptable to God and should be celebrated – everything must bow to this absolute. Further, he wants to convince us this is so. How does he go about it? Read his article for yourself. It will help you to see first-hand the manipulative sleight-of-hand to which people like Chalke resort.
He attempts to undermine our confidence in two thousand years of uniform interpretation (as, of course, he must).
‘Traditionally, it is argued that the injunctions of both the Old and New Testaments against homosexual activity are irrefutable, and therefore any attempt to interpret them in new ways betrays the Bible. Things, however, may not be as we thought.’
Genesis does not after all, it appears, provide a universal creational model, homosexuals for one are excluded. We have misinterpreted some passages that appear to condemn homosexuality and others are the subject of scholarly debate and so we cannot be certain (is any text that says something unwelcome free of scholarly debate). Readings which understand texts to condemn homosexuality are minority views (though they are not so historically, nor among most Conservative Evangelicals, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics are they so presently). The church has got it badly wrong in the past (solar system and slavery trotted out as usual examples) and minority views triumphed (his previous argument suggested accepting homosexuality was not a minority view while this one assumes it is). And his trump card, the Bible plainly and uncompromisingly forbids women teaching and in leadership yet we ignore what it says so why do we insist on obeying its commands on homosexuality?
This last argument seems to me to be particularly disingenuous. I wonder if Chalke has always argued the texts teaching patriarchy are so uncompromisingly plain? Somehow, I doubt it. However, it suits him now to concede the patency and cogency of these texts for he can charge with inconsistency those who ‘reinterpret’ these yet don’t treat the homosexuality texts with the same favour. Better, he can insist that the hermeneutic (a ‘wider hermeneutic’ and presumably more sophisticated one than ‘simple exegesis’) that guided the acceptance of women in leadership despite prima facie evidence to the contrary ought to be employed in the texts that forbid homosexuality. As he says, Here is my question: shouldn’t we take the same principle that we readily apply to the role of women, slavery, and numerous other issues, and apply it to our understanding of permanent, faithful, homosexual relationships? Wouldn’t it be inconsistent not to?
For Chalke, this ‘principle’ or ‘wider hermeneutic’ is a ‘trajectory hermeneutic’. The Bible, it appears does not speak with ‘one voice’. Although God’s self-revelation is fully revealed in Jesus, apparently what is revealed is not necessarily complete or accurate for a ‘trajectory’ hermeneutic will help us to arrive at the truth that is appropriate to this point in history. Paul, a Christ-appointed messenger, was clearly mistaken to see homosexual behaviour as ‘against nature’ and place those who lived an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle outside of the kingdom. He was clearly not inclusive enough. Presumably, the problem was that his heart was not as compassionate as that of Chalke. Though, perhaps he can be excused for his misguided and cruel exclusions since he did not have Chalke’s light; he did not live as far along the trajectory of evolving truth. Jude was clearly mistaken when he spoke of ‘the faith once and for all delivered to the saints’.
The hubris is breathtaking. The evil is palpable; it is insinuating, coiling, and serpentine.
Let me be clear. Chalke, in avowing this (considered) libertine position, is not a brother in Christ who is simply a little misguided who should be welcomed and not judged. He should be judged. He is fully aware what he promotes and its implications. He is wolverine, a false teacher, a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ twisting the Scripture to his own destruction. He ‘turns the grace of God into sexual licence and so deny’s our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ’ (Jude 4). Chalke’s actions towards homosexual people are not loving and gracious they are anything but so. It is not loving to declare pure what God finds abominable and to bless what God curses. To say ‘peace’ when there is ‘no peace’ is the most cruel of all lies and the hallmark of a false prophet. Such false prophets have rejected the word of the Lord and there is no wisdom in them (Jer 8:8,9). From such we must ‘turn away’ (2 Tim 3:5).
These are strong words, I know. Some will find them hard to stomach. I do not ask you to judge whether they are politically correct but whether they faithfully echo the voice of the Lord as found in Scripture.