The old distinction of 1985 in the PCC between an acceptable homosexual orientation and the forbidden homosexual practice did not last. On June 7, 2021 wide ranging changes were adopted. The old policy was labelled as exclusion, the sort of attitude unknown to a loving God. This has been replaced, or so they say, by God’s covenantal embrace. This means that in love the Lord now includes the “sexually immoral” who, according to Revelation 21:8, will be eternally excluded from the New Jerusalem.
The long and concerted effort for the homosexual takeover of The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) has met with climactic success. In a church once known for its allegiance to the Westminster Confession, there is no longer a barrier to same-sex marriage, a decision which extends from bedroom to pulpit. Now a practicing homosexual cannot be excluded from ordination to the ministry because of lust for his own kind.
The old distinction of 1985 in the PCC between an acceptable homosexual orientation and the forbidden homosexual practice did not last. On June 7, 2021 wide ranging changes were adopted. The old policy was labelled as exclusion, the sort of attitude unknown to a loving God. This has been replaced, or so they say, by God’s covenantal embrace. This means that in love the Lord now includes the “sexually immoral” who, according to Revelation 21:8, will be eternally excluded from the New Jerusalem. Note, too, that the sexually immoral will be included in the number cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8 again). The Presbyterian Church in Canada used to exclude homosexual life because it was viewed as sinful. Now they boldly admit that they have changed the theology of their church. This is some of the release posted on June 8:
The Presbyterian Church in Canada agreed to make changes to its theology and practice regarding marriage, permitting people to choose to define marriage as either a covenant relationship between a man and a woman or a covenant relationship between two adult people. These decisions provide Presbyterian ministers with liberty of conscience and the freedom to choose to officiate or not officiate at the marriages of same-sex couples … Additionally, the church agreed that LGBTQI people (whether married or single) can be ordained and are welcome to serve as ministers and ruling elders… It also agreed that identifying as LGBTQI and/or being in a same-sex marriage is not grounds for discipline and censure in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
But first – I was asked to write this article by The Aquila Report, because I am a Canadian. My contact with the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) is rather slight. People with a Plymouth Brethren heritage do not visit Presbyterian churches often. Yet it was in a PCC minister’s home that I was handed a document I had never heard of – The Westminster Confession of Faith. Rarely had I seen a creed and never one more than a page long. While still in my teens, I went with hosts to a summer service in a small church where a PCC Catechist was preaching from Daniel 2, a sermon I have never forgotten – “There is a God in heaven.” This was for me a moment of joy with a sense of the grandeur of our Lord. Years later in a rural valley in New Brunswick I was the Baptist pastor for a year with doubts about baptism. I even admitted to the deacons what no one could believe, namely that I thought there was a reason that infant children of believers should be baptized. (I thought we were children of Abraham.) In my extended family, there were former Presbyterians, converted ones, but not a single current one. One day, I heard in a dispensational Bible school that Abraham, Moses, and David would remain in their graves at the Rapture, while we in the church will rise to meet the Lord in the air. Such a doctrine jarred me. That surprising severance from the people of God in the Old Testament struck me as strange theology. (One way to be delivered from dispensationalism is to find out what it says.) I began to look on the Old Testament with better glasses; eventually I went to a Presbyterian seminary. I had come to agree with the Presbyterians in Canada.
But what happened to them? One Canadian brother asked a Canadian lady in a grocery line how the United Church of Canada came to accept homosexual ministers. She replied, “Oh, by the same arguments we used when we accepted women as ministers.” A new theological environment has emerged; the main thrust against the faith was not against basic doctrines of the church head on. It was just that in conservative circles the role of women was being reviewed and reviewed and reviewed again, challenged and rethought, then too divorce and church attendance. We were getting used to abortion. The Sabbath became old hat without anyone noticing, and then came one that really caught our attention – homosexuality. All of these touch upon what it means to be created in the image of God. Increasingly, the various assaults on the faith were in the area of ethics and conduct rather than in more abstract propositions. In the case of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the change has been slow, incremental, and radical. Satan has been patient, waiting to haul in a big one. Way, way back in 1994 a report in the General Assembly called on the church to repent of its homophobia, but the time to go along with same-sex marriage had not come. In 2021 the overthrow of the PCC is being ardently solidified. Meanwhile, the generation that resisted such views has weakened in numbers and influence; it must be tormented at the new reality.
The Conclusions of the Presbyterian Church in Canada
Twenty-three recommendations were adopted. I have condensed and rearranged the substance of them. What emerges is a view of God which is determined by the PCC’s unyielding view of human life and its own sense of the way things should be.
- On one side is a god who welcomes and includes everyone. He is useful as the god from whom forgiveness should be sought for all the harm and abuse caused to LGBTQI people by the church holding to his law. He loves all equally, and for some reason after Recommendation 3, he is not mentioned again. His word receives no mention anywhere in any recommendation. Never in the entire 117 pages do the authors of the report use a masculine pronoun for God. They hallow God as one who should pick a number, or get in line. They will call him when they are ready, but they never do. That is all I can give you on the Lord within these recommendations. He has been archived.
- On the human side, the recommendations concentrate on the real interest of the change agents in the PCC. And that is the terrible plight of abused homosexuals harmed by Christians, the church, and Christian doctrine. They are people marginalized and excluded by homophobia. They need inclusion and safer spaces just to be what they are. People have suffered from deeply ingrained heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia.
Implementing the decisions in the church
These recommendations focus on action. Much change has occurred in the PCC already, but the big push now is to apply the policy, and revamp the church from top to bottom. The aim is to clean out the harm, hurt, and hypocrisy and replace it with consistent LGBTQI thinking and personnel in every facet of church life. (The “I” stands for intersex.)
A major worship service will yet be held in which a public confession of the church’s homophobia will be streamed throughout Canada and recorded for future use. This confession to the church’s victims must be “lived out.” Within a year the church will also prepare a confession to all individuals and congregations that have been harmed by the church’s exclusion of LGBTQI.
Resources for counseling will be provided; a fund is being established to educate minds and conserve the progress achieved in this General Assembly. A web of support groups is envisioned, and also events for people to describe their suffering to others. Those called on to repent need to learn of the oppressor’s sin directly from the victims.
Throughout the denomination, congregations, agencies, and courts need guidelines. The decisions need to be put into practice at every level. Worship practice must be scrutinized, including the vocabulary employed, removing words that slight LGBTQI people for being who they are. College courses must be reviewed and updated. LGBTQI people must be fully included in the life of the church, therefore nominations for leadership positions, should aim for their representation in sessions, presbyteries, General Assemblies, and colleges. The terrible harm must stop. LGBTQI people, whether married or single, are welcome to serve as ministers and ruling elders.
So far my assessment of all this has not been obscure. The PCC has traded away a God who is holy, who demands obedience and provides it in Christ through faith, and who produces joyful compliance to his will by his very holy, Holy Spirit. They speak of worship and worship services, but it is worship of a god who promotes sin and loves it so much that disobedience has become delightful in what was once a reformed church. The PCC has created the kind of god they prefer and venerate. We have serious brothers and sisters there who cannot be at peace with this development. The real God made us male and female and called his creation “very good.” Now a Presbyterian Church has written its graffiti on this masterpiece of God’s physical creation – man in God’s image as male and female.
God’s Word had no place in their reasoning. They simply parrot the line of all the other contemporary false prophets. This General Assembly has been Me Too on steroids. Instead of hearing the Word of the Living God, their listening has been to the hurts of fallen souls to discover, quite predictably and deliberately, that the former PCC theology is harmful. This Presbyterian Church did not explain that they have a better understanding of God’s Word now which made them change their policies. Instead, they listened to the suffering of those who disagree with the Bible; they listened to those who said what they wanted to hear.
The testimonies that real change from same-sex passions is impossible, only highlight pervasive unbelief. Meanwhile the pain is very real. Harm appears in the report 260 times. What is needed is to make way for the gospel which is the power of God in salvation, the true answer to hurt, harm, and hatred – but that involves trusting him.
How has The Presbyterian Church in Canada changed?
- In rebellion to God’s good created order, they define man in man’s preferred image, whatever that may be. The so called “rigid” binary distinction of male and female has been abolished. (That male body you see walking by may contain a female person.)
- They slighted the Scriptures. The church’s decision was not arrived at from God’s Word. The Rainbow Communion simply rounded up many testimonies to the harm done to people by the church’s theology. The solution was to take on a new view of an accommodating god and to cease thinking of homosexuality as sinful.
- The PCC’s Rainbow Communion centered on stories of the self in all the pains of rejection by Christians and Christianity. The qualms of conscience and the guilt of transgression needed to be swept away by including all who claim to be Christians whether obedient or not. Forsake your sins and come is now “bring them with you.”
- They adopted the assumption that homosexuality is normal, and thereby justified it. Gays claim, and the PCC accepts, that a homosexual is simply who “God made me to be.” Their same-sex sexual orientation is a gift to be respected.
- They radically changed the PCC’s view of God. He is no longer the old, despised God of hatred, abuse and judgment. His love embraces all equally. He used to have a hell, but it evaporated in the non-discriminating love of God.
- They treated salvation merely as emotional comfort, liberated to sin but not from sin. This replaced the old message whereby guilt is removed, and lives transformed.
- The Presbyterian Church in Canada did not remove false teachers, so it was overthrown from within. Now the PCC says that separating the church from the LGBTQI community is a false dichotomy! (p.32 of the report from the Rainbow Communion). This asserts that there is little difference between them, a dreadful consequence of not guarding the flock.
- The Presbyterian Church in Canada has embraced the latest winds of popular doctrine. They have married the church to a Canaanite culture, bringing great suffering upon any faithful remnant that remains. It is not terribly creative to agree with what everyone thinks.
How was such a radical change accomplished?
Here is my limited observation from a distance. Much sympathy for people abused by Christian teaching in the PCC was stirred up. In 1994 the Church Doctrine Report on Human Sexuality called for repentance from homophobia and hypocrisy. Those words have been greatly twisted. After a 1996 decision forbidding the ordination of a minister with a male partner, an organization worked for years within the church to foster change in the church’s doctrine. In 1969 the Canadian government decriminalized homosexual acts. The PCC agreed with that but still maintained in 1985 that though homosexual orientation is not sinful, its active fulfillment is. In 2015 an “Open Letter” circulated in the denomination, signed eventually by 951 persons, called for the ordination of homosexuals. The issue gained momentum, so in 2017 the “Special Committee Re. LGBTQI Listening” was erected. This article you are reading is a partial review of that document, www.presbyterian.ca/listening. This committee has been an ingenious instrument. It gathered 139 like-minded persons to testify in very personal and often bitter stories of the harm caused by the PCC. The needed repentance would then be to adopt the Committee’s recommendations; the General Assembly did so on June 7, 2021.
The twisted reference to 1994
Below are two paragraphs from the 1994 report. The two italicized sentences are much quoted in the recent material promoting gay marriage and gay ministers, but the call to chastity is ignored.
6.23 God has so created us that we humans need one another. Social intercourse is necessary for all. Sexual intercourse, however, is not. Life can be full and abundant for the single, both homosexual and heterosexual, without sexual intercourse, despite the dictates of current society. Sexuality, which is inherent to us all, can be expressed in other ways than by genital activity – in friendship, in affection, in touch and in belonging. The alternative is not between the intimacy of homosexual intercourse on the one hand and the pain of isolation and repression on the other. The Church is called to be a welcoming, nurturing, loving and supportive community, a true church family, where all are welcomed, nurtured, loved and supported. Sadly, the Christian Church has frequently shunned homosexuals and failed to minister to them and with them. The Church as a whole must repent of its homophobia and hypocrisy. All Christians, whether our sins are of the spirit or of the flesh, whether heterosexual or homosexual, need God’s forgiveness and mutual forgiveness as we pursue together the path of holy living. Grace abounds, and in our weakness God’s strength is made known.
6.24 Some will refuse our call for homosexual chastity as impossibly idealistic, or reject it as psychologically unhealthy. Sexual chastity, it is argued, is a gift, and not everyone with a homosexual orientation has this gift. However, the grace offered by the Lord Jesus Christ is neither cheap, allowing us acceptance without repentance, nor is it powerless. The gospel contains within it not only the demand for transformation but the power to achieve it. (emphasis added in both paragraphs)
In the 1994 report of 19 pages, the advocates of change seize upon two sentences, obviously taken out of context. The PCC in 1994 commended extending a gospel invitation in a ministry to homosexuals. Never did that General Assembly believe the solution to suffering was to allow same-sex marriage. Christian inclusiveness is not acceptance without repentance. In 1994 the PCC called for chastity and holy living. And this is possible only in the gospel, though the law demands transformation, the grace of God in the gospel brings power to achieve it. Therefore, Christian inclusiveness has repentance as a condition. Such a call was not ambiguous, especially in the second paragraph quoted.
The General Assembly of 2021 has a different religion from that of 1994. Back then there was a Christian call for repentance and chastity. That year The Presbyterian Church in Canada ruled that a homosexual relationship is not a Christian option. In fact, it recognized that 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 threatens exclusion from God’s kingdom for the sins listed there including homosexual activity. The 1994 report began with two pages stressing the authority of God’s Word, while the 2021 material drew its authority from all the people squirming under the broken law of God. To compound the apostasy, it ignored the gospel power of God to deliver and save, and thereby for every person to find the joyful fruit of the Spirit. The solution for sin is not to bring it in and declare it normal, and worse yet, a gift of God to be cherished. The huge deceit of baptizing sin and giving it official residence does not remove the suffering it brings. It may give some temporary relief, but it locks in eternal punishment.
News that is more than a footnote:
The PCC had greetings from the Reformed Church in America. Its representative noted that the PCC and the RCA “along with the Christian Reformed Church … are all members of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, working for a restoration of justice and renewal of all things to God’s design.” In ecclesiastical lingo, “God’s design” is a hint of changes to come. Do not be surprised if they lay out for God what his design should be.
The PCC report relishes the changing winds in other denominations: Both the United Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have same-sex marriage and active homosexuals in their pulpits. The PCC committee was pleased to note, “The debate has also been significant in the Christian Reformed Church in North America and in the Reformed Church in America” (p.110). As happened in Ezekiel 8, the PCC has brought idols into the House of the Lord. In this case of preferring the opposite of what it once was, The Presbyterian Church in Canada has caved. It is a reformed church no more. The CRC may choose to join them. This is not over. Let any church that thinks it stands take heed lest it fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12) I hope the PCA is paying attention.
David H. Linden is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America; he is retired and living in Georgetown, Del.