I decided not to post this yesterday because I was afraid that a post about something that made me angry might not be in the best interests of the subject of the post nor in the best interests of this blog, But on reflection this morning, I believe that I should post.
I want to start with the Council of Jerusalem, which decided that Gentile Christians need only abstain from the meat of strangled animals of animals sacrificed to other gods, from the consumption of blood and from sexual immorality. To me, that is quite clear.
To the person trying to find some way around the sexual immorality part of this command, the question will arise, “What is sexual immorality?” Again, reading this passage from Acts in context, it is clear to me. The Gentile Christians were being freed from the need to conform to all aspects of the Jewish Law except for the Law in these areas. So what can the phrase “sexual immorality” mean except that they must conform to those aspects of the Jewish Law which relate to sexual conduct. The Jewish Law was quite explicit in its condemnation of homosexual acts, but nowhere does it condemn someone for having a homosexual orientation.
Paul Flowers complains that the Methodist Church lacked grace in the manner of his dismissal, suggesting they ought to take the totality of the situation into account. I wonder if what has concerned him is that they did take the totality of his conduct into account, all the way back to his first arrest and conviction for cottaging in the 1970s. He complained too that the church does not deal well with homosexual and other unusual sexual behaviours, but forgets that it has now become public knowledge that he ceased being a trustee of one charity after being accused of claiming expenses to which he was not entitled, otherwise known as theft. He has never been open about why he moved suddenly from Rochdale, where he was a Labour councillor with and a friend of Cyril Smith, who was unveiled as a predatory homosexual paedophile after his death. He let it be believed that he resigned from Bradford Council to take up his post as Chairman of the Co-operative Bank when in fact he resigned because ‘inappropriate but not illegal’ material was found on his council computer.
Paul Flowers was not someone who slipped off the path once and was not forgiven. He had a history of consistently behaving in manners which are condemned in Scripture and he brought disgrace on the Methodist Church. He brought disgrace on all of the Methodist Church, and every single member of that Church, and by extension of The Church was tainted by his actions and his refusal to take responsibility for what he did.
If any of us are in a position of Christian leadership, we must examine ourselves and ask, “Do I measure up to the demands of Scripture?” In this context I offer the example of John Piper, who offered his church his resignation because one of his adult children rejected Christianity. This is the honourable and graceful way to deal with failure when one is in a position of leadership. Mr. Piper’s congregation acted with grace and opted not to accept the resignation.