A first-time commissioner looks at Same-Sex Attraction and Critical Race Theory with an eye toward voting on these relevant issues at General Assembly.

Written by Ray M. Sanchez | Wednesday, June 23, 2021 

Lastly, to those thinking this response lacks compassion toward the sexually broken and frustrates our ability to counsel those struggling with SSA, I would suggest that clarity is more compassionate than confusion. Equivocating on homosexual sin hinders our witness. SSA is a heinous sin (Colossians 3:5). It is unacceptable to adopt a gay identity (Galatians 2:20).

I have been a Christian since 1994, in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) since 2011, and a Ruling Elder since March 11, 2018 at Grace Presbyterian Church in the heartland of central California. In October 2019, I attended my first and only Presbytery meeting (Northern California) and in about a week I will be attending my first General Assembly (GA) in St. Louis, Missouri. Below I comment on Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) with an eye toward GA and voting on these relevant issues.

Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)

Although I wasn’t able to attend the last GA in person, I watched the highlights—and lowlights—and recently re-watched Teaching Elder Steven Warhurst’s defense of the minority report on Overture 28. How reasonable I found his presentation. How biblical. How obvious. What Warhurst articulated so clearly, I wish to repeat:

“Both the attraction and the orientation are sinful. Both.” 

Then this last week I read the Open Letter and Teaching Elder Stephen Spinnenweber’s “Honest Thoughts” response. Spinnenweber states,

The heart of the issue is not whether homosexual practice is sinful; the key issue is whether homosexual attraction is itself a sin and if the heinousness of this sin is such that it disqualifies a man from holding ordained office. 

The faithful Christian’s answer, and this first-time commissioner’s answer, must be a resounding yes. SSA is itself a sin! But to be clear, SSA alone should not disqualify a man from holding ordained office. What should disqualify a man from office is the denial of the heinousness of the unnatural attraction and/or the positive spin attributed to this sin.

Let me say it another way. SSA alone doesn’t disqualify a man from office – see Article 8 of the Nashville Statement. Although SSA is “contrary to nature” (Romans 1:26-27) which makes it always a heinous sin, a fleeting or periodic desire that is regularly taken to the cross should not disqualify a man who otherwise meets the qualifications. But what should disqualify a man from ordained office is having SSA but not actively and consistently mortifying the desires, but rather denying the sin of SSA and speaking and living in a manner that frames SSA and “gay Christian” identity as positive and redeeming.

Shortly after reading Pastor Spinnenweber’s article on Reformation 21, I read Teaching Elder Jon Payne’s response. Payne writes that the Open Letter demonstrates “patronizing dismissiveness of real concerns”. Yes, and amen. Now I don’t know all the details of what has been said and done regarding Revoice and Side B Christianity, but I personally have not heard what the Open Letter signer’s clear position is on whether SSA is itself a sin (of the unnatural variety). But I have heard from some in the PCA that assert that Side B Christianity is something that they can create a positive identity around. For these PCA leaders SSA is, in some measure, celebrated, even if as a celebratory thorn in the flesh.

Payne also says, “…unity is impossible apart from unity in the truth. Unity cannot be accomplished merely by strong calls to unity for the sake of the church” [Emphasis in the original]. So, what is the core truth that the Open Letter signers are espousing – and is the party of the Open Letter synonymous with the mysterious National Partnership? Is the essence of the Open Letter saying, “Let’s just get along because we are all still biblically faithful?” Are the signers simply calling out the conservatives (or as R. Scott Clark recently noted, the “Confessional”) for fearmongering about “alarming reports” and erecting “straw men”? Whatever the principal truth they are hitting on, we are still left with pastor Payne’s bold depiction: The writers of the Open letter are demonstrating “patronizing dismissiveness of real concerns”.

In Stephen J. Nichol’s fine biography on J. Gresham Machen, he refers to historian Bradley Longfield’s description of the real problem within the church during the modernist controversy: namely, the moderates, whom Machen called the “indifferentists.” Machen wrote in a letter to evangelist Billy Sunday of one of the indifferentists, “If [Charles Erdman’s] policy of palliation and concealment of the issue is continued only a very few years, our church will be in control of the enemies of the gospel.” In a word, here is the issue with the position of the Open Letter: palliation. The signers wish to make a serious offense seem less serious. And what do we suppose will happen to the PCA if this continues only a very few years?

Lastly, to those thinking this response lacks compassion toward the sexually broken and frustrates our ability to counsel those struggling with SSA, I would suggest that clarity is more compassionate than confusion. Equivocating on homosexual sin hinders our witness. SSA is a heinous sin (Colossians 3:5). It is unacceptable to adopt a gay Christian identity (Galatians 2:20).

Critical Race Theory (CRT) 

As a long-time faculty member at an institution of higher education, I have witnessed the encroaching critical social justice and racial bifurcation on college campuses up close and personal. Now that all forms of critical theory have made their way out of the academy and into broader evangelicalism and the PCA, it is beyond time that our denomination destroy the arguments and ideology that are raised against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5) antiracism, woke, decolonization, etc. I am fundamentally opposed to these phrases and we should not accept them.

Let’s take antiracism as an example. The best of what antiracism means for the non-initiated is “against racism”. A better way to say this is that the older and discernable meaning of antiracism—”anti” is being against; “racism” is being prejudiced and practicing discrimination based on immutable characteristics—is one we should obviously defend. But the newly minted antiracism has not retained its original and straightforward definition. Antiracism has now been stuffed to the brim with meaning that no longer merely addresses discrimination and prejudice, but is a front and mouthpiece for Critical Race Theory – and therein lies the problem.

We ought to despise all forms of partiality. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines partiality as:

The fault of one who when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to the intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities.  

Put another way, when a person accepts or judges another person based not on the content of their character but based on the color of their skin, that person is showing partiality (James 2:1-9). If antiracism meant that we should actively oppose actual, true partiality, which is a hateful, biased attitude and behavior, and is in every instance immoral, then we would all stand together arm in arm as antiracists. But it doesn’t mean that. Or rather, it means that only as a superficial, bare minimum, but it has become filled with the following new concepts:

  • there is hegemonic societal power held by white people
  • all racial disparities are the result of only systemic and institutional racism
  • a whole race of people (whites) are oppressors and another whole race of people (people of color) are oppressed
  • the only remedy for past discrimination is actively discriminating in the present
  • no other factor or cause may be considered or discussed for demographic outcome variance other than racism
  • questioning the newly established antiracism viewpoint is not allowed and opponents will be charged with white fragility, white supremacy, or some other ad hominem

This Marxist racialization of society as the inevitable outcome of CRT is flat out wrong and dangerous. It is unbiblical and should be rejected outright as having absolutely no benefit to the PCA.

Final Thoughts on the 2021 GA

Charles Erdman publicly accused Machen of “unkindness, suspicion, bitterness, and intolerance.” I’m thankful for Machen’s willingness to stand firm for the truth in the face of uncharitable opposition. This first-time commissioner has read the overtures and is ready to vote. Yes, we want unity. But we must first have purity.

Ray M. Sanchez is a Ruling Elder in Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fresno, CA.