SSA Identification is Not Above Reproach

<rdp> As the Presbyterian Church in America draws closer to this year’s General Assembly, we’re beginning to focus a bit more on the core issues around the question of same-sex-attracted (SSA) men and ordination to sacred office. While there are lots of variables and permutations in front of us, the focus is rightly placed upon the one instantiation (the concrete example) of a teaching elder’s identification as a SSA (homosexual, gay) – (hyphenated) Christian (professing believer in Jesus Christ).

In a previous post I provided a simple summary of why I believe that men so identifying themselves are not above reproach. Accordingly, following the Bible’s rationale here, such men are NOT qualified for sacred office. More, in saying that they are not qualified, this is not a mere declaration that they don’t check off the boxes in a biblical qualifications checklist. No, reading these qualifications via the Bible’s idea of evidence of the Spirit’s work, what I am more fully concluding is that such a man’s lack of the biblical qualifications demonstrates that God has not called him to sacred office. Hence, in submission to the Head of the Body, the Church, we cannot place hands on him in ordination to sacred office.

Of course, these opinions generate some questions, most quite understandable and reasonable. I don’t propose I am the person to answer all these questions. I am not equipped to answer some of them, nor do I have the time to answer all of them. Suffice to say, I strongly recommend reliance on resources from others. Among those, let me highlight a few that presently are drawing my attention (in hopes that you may find them useful too):

Following my previous behavior, this past week I’ve sought to carefully listen to those interacting with my blog post, especially those who’ve disagreed with me. As of today, I am even more persuaded that an SSA-Christian man is not qualified for/not called to sacred office. He is not above reproach. Such a man has established as part of his identity a sin that is against nature (Jude 1:7; Rom 1:26). This identification may be nothing more than a confusion of a worldly-informed identity matrix (complex of principles). Yet at the very least such an identification marks him as one who has not (yet) secured the blessing of living in the language of 1Co 6:11:

“And such were some of you.” (e.g., formerly identifying with your SSA, rdp). “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Co 6:11 ESV)

reed depace

9 Comments

  1. Tim LeCroy said,

    May 8, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    Reed: three things. The Greek of Jude 7 does not use the phrase “against nature,” but “other flesh.” The “such were some of you,” passage refers to those who were active in their homosexual sin. They no long have homosexual sex. Romans 1:26 says they were given over to their passions and engaged in same sex sexual relations. I don’t see in any of those that a person who is fighting the temptation and mortifying the sin is not above reproach.

  2. Hugh McCann said,

    June 1, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Mr LeCroy – Yes, to your 1st point, and the AV has it best:
    Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

  3. Hugh McCann said,

    June 1, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    As to point #2, Mr LeCroy, I agree that Paul lists “active sins” in 1 Corinthians 6:

    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    None in Christ are to be identified as “Christian _______s” [Fill in the blank]. There are no “Christian adulterers,” “Christian thieves,” et. al.

    Just so, there can be no “Christian Ls, Gs, Bs or Ts.” Rather, ex-effeminate, ex-sodomite, etc.

  4. Hugh McCann said,

    June 1, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Your point #3 is the most important, Mr LeCroy, as you refer to Romans 1:26, and by extension, vv. 24 & 28, which also indicate God “giving up” some folks to “uncleanness & dishonor,” and God “giving over” others to “a reprobate mind.”

    One cannot claim to be a Christian while also having an ongoing desire to live in Romans 1:22-32, which is just what a “Christian homosexual” has to do.

    It comes down to identity:
    One is either crucified with Christ or one is not.
    One is either a Christian or one is not.
    One is either SSA or one is not.

    There is no third, “hybrid” category: “SSA Christians.”

  5. Hugh McCann said,

    June 1, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Agreed, Reed. One cannot be a Christian minister who “struggles with adulterous, covetous or idolatrous thoughts.”

    Why is SSA given a special place? Because our depraved culture has told us “it’s different.”

  6. Hugh McCann said,

    June 1, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Much less, can a man be considered for ministry who claims to be “a fornicating-attracted Christian,” or “a theft-attracted Christian.”

  7. rfwhite said,

    June 1, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Tim LeCroy: Though it’s been several weeks since you commented, maybe a response is still welcomed even if it’s not from Reed.

    First, on the Greek of Jude 7, you’re right that the phrase is, literally, “other flesh, different flesh.” As Jude gives us a reminder of how God punished the Israelites, certain angels, and specific cities in the OT past, all three examples flouted the authority of the Lord. The fallen angels and those of Sodom defiled the flesh, while those of Sodom also abused holy angels. They are cited as typical in their sins and in their judgment. As you would appreciate, the relevance of that text does not turn on the meaning of the phrase in and of itself, but on the nature of the carnal offenses that Jude mentions and that were the basis of God’s judgment. In other words, the meaning and relevance of the phrase is inferred by good and necessary consequence from the offenses committed at least in Gen 19. I expect we can agree that those offenses were not limited to carnal offenses but did include them.

    Second, you urge that in 1 Cor 6:11 Paul refers to “those who were active in their homosexual sin” and who no longer have homosexual relations. What in the text justifies your limitation of the homosexual phenomena to acts alone? That is, how do we tell that Paul refers exclusively to acts and not also to desires/inclinations?

    Third, we give thanks to God to hear that a person is fighting temptation and mortifying that sin. We also know, however, that a good personal testimony alone from that person is not all that is necessary to demonstrate that s/he is above reproach.

  8. Tomas said,

    June 7, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    Tim LeCroy, greetings. Can you demonstrate that the list in 1 Cor. 6 is restricted to “active sins”? And if so, how would do you respond to the inclusion of effeminate. A man who is actively attracted to a other men is, by definition, effeminate. On your reading, wouldn’t this make him not above reproach.

    Reed DePace: My understanding of 1 Cor. 6:11 is that Paul is citing a 1st C baptismal formulation. If this is the case, wouldn’t this text have application for all baptized Christians, not just officers? Put differently, wouldn’t this text touch on the credibility of a man’s profession of faith, not just his qualification for office?

  9. Reed Here said,

    June 9, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    Tim, sorry for not responding sooner. I was busy with some PCA committee work ( ;) ), and WordPress didn’t let me know of your (or anyone else’s comments).

    Dr. White’s response here is helpful, as are some of Hugh’s and Tomas.

    But to the point of your three observations, I take it that the crux of your point is that these three passages have in view sinful actions, not sinful desires. Without affirming your assumption is correct (e.g., exegetically from 1Co 6:9-10), for the sake of your question, let me observe that my objection does not rest on the dividing line between being and doing, the sinfulness of estate vs. the actual sins.

    Instead, it rests on a person’s self-identification as one who fights these temptations (presumably, as the rest of us, both internally and externally). Such a person is expressing an ongoing struggle that means that the unnatural (against created nature, other flesh) desire of SSA is of such a continual presence that it marks his character to the extent that a person looking at him can never quite tell.

    If such a person were to identify themselves with 1 Co 6:11’s past tense, it would be much easier to consider that such a person is above reproach. Hope that helps.


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