Points to Ponder/APOSTASY: “Abandonment of a Previous Loyalty”*
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
Here’s a point to ponder. If you have a pastor, unmarried, assigned to your church, you are receiving a leader. Preaching the word, being an example to the youth, and caring for the flock is generally what you expect. Let’s say this pastor is a single man and you discover he’s bringing into the parsonage a girlfriend. She moves in and it is common knowledge they are sleeping together and making the parsonage their home.
Is your pastor engaging in sinful behavior? If his girlfriend becomes pregnant and bears them a son and they make their home there - still unmarried - would that be a good thing? Or is that another aspect of a sinful lifestyle?
If the Bible says one thing and a believer goes against that standard, is that essentially a “sin” (missing the mark, acting contrary to God’s standard)?
The issue of homosexual clergy is once again before the United Methodist Church. The scenario I just described is essentially the same as what went on in Washington State except the pastor is a single woman and her live-in lover is also a woman. She didn’t give birth, but they have a child by adoption.
She is a self-avowed, practicing homosexual person. To make that even more obvious, she (Rev. Karen Dammann) and her partner got “married.” The United Methodist Discipline says that the church does not ordain self-avowed practicing homosexuals. Then how did Rev. Dammann get ordained? Was there a conspiracy among the leaders who ordained her to circumvent the church law? Or did Rev. Dammann falsely represent herself, knowing she was vowing to uphold and teach the doctrine and rule of the Discipline? How does one claim a call from God to enter ordained ministry and then rely on falsehoods in order to fulfill that call?
There are disagreements among denominations about whether the homosexual lifestyle is an alternative lifestyle, or a sin under the category of fornication. I won’t debate that here. If you believe the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and you believe in it as the primary authority for living, then you know what it clearly says.
Disagreements regarding this lifestyle as being sin (along with sexual relations among unmarried heterosexuals), all come down to whether one believes in the authority of scripture. Scripture is plain and straightforward. In Christianity, marriage signifies the union between Christ and His church. The marriage bed is to remain undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual relations are meant for marriage. Scripture very clearly defines what marriage is: the union of a man and a woman, making them one flesh. Jesus affirmed in the gospels (Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9) that the reason God created the genders was for marriage. He did not create marriage for the genders to define as they like.
Jesus quotes from Genesis, chapter two and says that God created them male and female; and for this reason a man leaves home and marries his wife and the two shall become one flesh (Matt 19:4-5, paraphrased). Nowhere in scripture can one even stretch the definition of marriage to suit the civil union of two men or two women. But in this increasingly Godless society, we’ll give it a try. The Apostle Paul even said we would. He warns Timothy, a young pastor, to preach the word and stand firm in it.
“Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, be turned aside to fables.”(II Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV)
I believe this is why we see the “waffle factor” among church leaders. To dare and stand on what the Bible says - as if it’s true - is radical. What is immoral? What is sin? Oh, brothers and sisters, let’s just pray about it for awhile. As long as we all love Jesus it does not matter how our opinions differ. Post modernism allows for many flavors of “truth” while we hide together behind empty declarations about Jesus and his “inclusive” love. Just fill in the blanks. The church will soon be like one big fast food outlet, proclaiming “Have it your way.”
Before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, Jeremiah lamented their declining spiritual condition.
“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?”(Jeremiah 5:30-31 NKJV)
Rev. Dammann’s bishop, Elias Galvan was pleased with her acquittal. He said, “The church is not of one mind. I expect this issue to continue to be raised until society comes to terms with it.” I think he means, “accepts it.”
Because the church is not of one mind, we tend to be “driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6), as the culture presses us into its mold. How then do we decide to stand?
“We act at all times on one plain uniform principal - we will obey the rulers and governors of the church, whenever we can consistently with our duty to God; whenever we can not, we will quietly obey God rather than man.”
- John Wesley, Founder of Methodism
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.
* Webster’s collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition