What Do You Think? Part 2

When homosexual ideology is tolerated in the PCA: How our commitment for the gospel can be compromised?

But when anyone preaches from the pulpit that individuals with homosexual desires are “born that way through no fault of their own,” then this is clearly and willfully redefining this biblical teaching. Homosexual character and desires are, like all sin, brought into effect by our sinful desires, passions and lusts; it is one of the fruits of our corrupt nature.


When I wrote my previous article, “What Do You Think,” I did so for two reasons, both of them with redemptive intent.

The first was to bring awareness to a profoundly troubling situation in which I am convinced a PCA senior pastor has been publicly promoting homosexual ideology in his ministry and from the pulpit. And even more disconcerting for the PCA as a whole was that the Presbytery of the senior pastor in question set a dangerous precedence for the rest of the denomination by voting largely to absolve the pastor and support his efforts to openly teach homosexual ideology. I believe the Presbytery intentionally ignored most of the charges that were brought against this pastor in accordance with the PCA’s Book of Church Order (BCO). The Presbytery rendered a highly distorted interpretation of James 1 to accommodate the pastor’s teaching, and to execute highly corrupt efforts to suppress objections of those in the Presbytery and even encouraged reprisal against a fellow PCA minister who filed the charges. And that is exactly what the Presbytery did. Ironically, all of the evidence to support these contentions comes right from the pastor and the Presbytery’s own words. The evidence is irrefutable.

The first objective to bring awareness of this situation to the PCA, as well as the larger body of Christ, was for all purposes a striking success. The article was originally published on both The Aquila Report (TAR) and its Facebook page on September 4th. Within six days the article had been accessed over 27,000 times on both sites. Additionally, the article has been re-posted and shared on at least 120 other social media sites and pages.

My second objective was to publicly invite discussion and dialogue from other PCA leaders concerning the central issues of this deeply troubling situation for our church. These issues are of no small matter as the pastor in question recently painted them as nothing more than, “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in malicious talk and evil suspicions (1 Timothy 6:4).”

Hopefully, we should all recognize the common practice of those who are accused of serious matters to minimize their offenses when they have been exposed. Contrariwise, I believe that the teachings and public support for homosexual ideology will undoubtedly result in support for homosexual behavior in the PCA. I also think that this Presbytery’s actions to defend those teachings, is a direct assault on the theological and moral reputation and confessional integrity of the PCA, the fidelity of the gospel, the purity of the church, and the glory of God.

This second objective did not meet with the success I had hoped for. When I opened the proverbial floor for a discussion of the issues from my colleagues in the PCA it was met with an outright onslaught of pejorative, derogatory, sneering and critical comments completely unrelated to the issues from not a few of my fellow PCA pastors, some of them holding to and allowing for the issues and activities I was describing.

On one particular PCA Facebook page the moderators had to issues warnings against the tone that developed in the discussion. But sadly they too abandoned the role of impartial moderators and took sides against the article. No other site of the 120+ which reposted my article demonstrated this kind of unfortunate behavior, especially one intended almost exclusively for PCA teaching and ruling elders. On a couple of sites, moderators and editors were barraged with demands to remove the article; not because anything was out of order, but because those who harangued about it did not like what was written and wanted to close down discussion. When ministers themselves cannot exercise their liberty of conscience (WCF 20) against unbiblical and immoral rulings of church courts (WCF 31), then the PCA’s commitment to sound doctrine, pastoral holiness and effective gospel ministry are brought into question.

My article also seems to have also revealed that the situation in the PCA with regard to homosexuality is much worse than most thought. We are no longer talking about only one young man at the center of the controversy who self-proclaims himself to be a “gay-Christian” that the pastor in question is exploiting to embolden his agenda. We now have at least five men promoting a homosexual ideology in the PCA; three currently in ministry service and two associated with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), within three Presbyteries. One has to wonder if there are any more.

In fact, the teaching elder in question here specifically identified three distinguished men in the PCA ministerial cadre who he says, “… they have endorsed my teaching and ministry in the area of sexuality.

I do not believe that any orthodox man or woman in the PCA would state that homosexual desires are sinless, or that people with such desires:

  • Are born that way, like the first eunuch” in Matthew 19.”
  • Are born that way through no fault of their own,” like the man born blind in John 9.
  • Are born that way for the glory of God,” like the blind man in John 9.

What about you? Is this what you believe?

I want to identity just two of the serious theological errors involved in the teachings of the senior pastor and of the Presbytery’s defense of him.

The first major biblical error that both the pastor and the Presbytery committed was to self-consciously rely on secular and humanistic terminology to re-define the clear revelation and interpretation of God’s Word concerning homosexual desires.

In essence, they’ve rejected the sufficiency,clarity and authority of God’s counsel about this subject. They have relied upon terms like “attraction,” “propensity,” or “orientation” for homosexual desires. These terms are not used in Scripture regarding homosexuality or sexual immorality. Additionally, Scripture does not make a distinction between “desires” and “lusts” with the former being sinless in nature and the latter being sinful. That is an artificial convention to accommodate the acceptance of homosexual ideology. We would do well to remember the axiom, “He who defines the terms of the debate, wins the debate.” As ministers of God’s Word we must commit ourselves to define the issues in this discussion according to biblical terminology and meaning.

Obviously, not all sexual desires are sinful. But those that lead to sinful conduct are. What we find in the Scripture is a consistent use of the word epithumia to describe sexually immoral desires and their moral implication. Epithumia can refer to “lust,”desires,” and “passions.” According to Scripture “lust” and “desires” are generally understood as synonymous when this term is used. When Jesus talked about a man having “lustful intent” in his heart for a woman, epithumia is the word he used (Matthew 5:28). Jesus taught that it isn’t just the evil deed that is sinful, but the desires in the human heart from which such deeds arise that are equally evil. They come from a heart that has separated itself from God. For Jesus, the tenth and seventh commandments are both being referred to here.

Likewise, when James refers to the person who is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own “evil desire,” the word used is epithumia. But the Presbytery substituted “attraction” for epithumia, then equates this “attraction” with sinless temptation in contrast to what God revealed to be true. In Romans 1, when speaking directly about homosexual desires, the term for “degrading passions” is “pathos.Pathos “represents a passive and ungoverned desire for evil as opposed to epithumia, which is more active and comprehensive” (Rogers). However, we also find both pathos and epithumia used together in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 when they to refer to the “lustful passions” for sexually immoral behavior, passions that come from those “who do not know God,” with the indictment that those who do not reject such lustful passion, “have rejected God.”

An excellent resource for further study can be found in Transforming Homosexuality by Denny Burke, especially Chapter 2, “Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?”

The second major error of the pastor and Presbytery concerns the biblical doctrine of man and sin, especially as the Westminster Standards have exposited Scripture. Specifically, the truth that all human beings have inherited a corrupt nature, “wholly inclined to all evil;, and the guilt of Adam’s sin imputed to us (Psalm 51:5; Job 14:4; 15:14; Matthew 5:19; Romans 3:10-12; 5:12-19; Ephesians 2:2-3; James 1:14-15. See also, Westminster Confession of Faith 6.3 and Larger Catechism Qs. 25-26). This is the doctrine of original sin.

But when anyone preaches from the pulpit that individuals with homosexual desires are “born that way through no fault of their own,” then this is clearly and willfully redefining this biblical teaching. Homosexual character and desires are, like all sin, brought into effect by our sinful desires, passions and lusts; it is one of the fruits of our corrupt nature.

Yet, according to this pastor and his Presbytery, it does not. It must come from elsewhere. Because, it is asserted, that homosexual desires are not sinful and thus not culpable. These desires become sinful only when they become “lusts” or “actions,” which means only when a willful choice is made to act on these desires and thoughts. In reality,  this is nothing more than a modern version of the old Pelagian error? Pelagius affirmed that we are only sinful when we make the choice for a behavior and not because we have an inherited sinful nature from Adam. This mirrors what the Presbytery affirmed when they absolved the pastor of his teaching. This is a direct contradiction to the PCA’s confessional position.

The natural question follows:  What other desires for particular sins am I absolved from because “I was born that way through no fault of my own, and am subject to those affections?” Can we really concede this kind of corrupt and immoral teaching to flourish in our beloved church? Are our consciences that apathetic to the seriousness of this suppression of God’s truth which promotes and condones evil?

These are the questions for every Presbytery in the PCA to answer. If the circumstances that I have recounted are true, and if my assessment is correct, and if this interpretation of homosexuality is persists, then the PCA is in peril. Presbyteries must debate this and must decide whether action is warranted. And Presbyteries need to find the courage to act decisively in accord the PCA’s view of Scripture and its exposition found in our confessional standards. I believe that it is time for this matter to be referred to the General Assembly for study to bring clarity within the PCA.

Let us be clearly reminded though James that such sinful desires and thoughts will most assuredly become behavior and death. If we choose complacency here, then it will be demanded of us by those who will eventually allow for and practice homosexuality in the PCA.

Chuck Williams is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at Erskine Theological Seminary, Due West, S.C., with a concentration on Ethics and Moral Leadership.