Another mainline American denomination has approved openly practicing homosexuals to serve as clergy. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has followed in the steps of the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church in rejecting a biblical view of marriage and minimal godly standards for pastors. United Methodists, United Presbyterians and American Baptists are all battling out this issue as well.
Behind all of this is that all of these national denominational bodies have abandoned a high view of Scripture, apart from which such decisions could not occur. Of course, that does not mean all members of these bodies agree. There are Lutherans today who grieve what happened this week. The Episcopal Church is losing many members over this. Many Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists hold to a high view of Scripture and are saddened that the issue is being raised in their national bodies as well.
What do we say about all this?
I just finished reading through the fifty two chapters of Jeremiah the Prophet this morning, forty nine days of exploring the straight talk of a man of God who called Jerusalem to repentance, while she simply turned a deaf ear and persecuted him with great suffering.
Jeremiah watched the fulfillment of his own prophecy as Jerusalem fell to the mighty Babylonians, knowing this was God’s work to bring judgment on His own covenant people for their unfaithfulness. But even after Jerusalem was destroyed and the people taken into captivity, the remnant that was left refused to learn and continued in rebellion against God.
Consider this sample from Jeremiah 44:2-10.
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You have seen all the disaster that I brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah. Behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, because of the evil that they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers. Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’ But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods. Therefore my wrath and my anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, and they became a waste and a desolation, as at this day. And now thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and child, from the midst of Judah, leaving you no remnant? Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live, so that you may be cut off and become a curse and a taunt among all the nations of the earth? Have you forgotten the evil of your fathers, the evil of the kings of Judah, the evil of their wives, your own evil, and the evil of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers. (English Standard Version)
We make a tragic miscalculation if we think America is immune from judgment as we tolerate the culture of death with the continual slaughter of babies through abortion and celebrate sexual perversion as many churches are now doing. The visible church is not only failing to resist the tide of evil, but endorses false prophets who lead the way into greater evil.
We must not conclude that America’s declining respect as a world leader and our economic turmoil is unrelated to America’s increasingly bold rebellion against God. Repentance is what is needed, not growing an ever larger and increasingly unaccountable government.
My next read in the Scripture will be the short book of Lamentations, the agonizing weeping of Jeremiah over the destruction of his nation. I can only hope that won’t apply to the United States. Then comes the prophet Ezekiel with more warnings of judgment for those who refuse to submit to God’s will as clearly revealed in Scripture.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel are not the most pleasant readings from Scripture, but they speak the truth. But don’t despair because these prophets bring great hope in the midst of these warnings of judgment as they point to the Good News of Jesus Christ.