'Compassion without Compromise': Church throws down the gauntlet

Heart to Heart

Betty Ann Blaine

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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One of the most important meetings of Church leaders as well as other Christians took place last week in Kingston in the form of a press conference convened by the organisation named Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS).

JCHS, which describes itself as "a determined group of individuals which has decided to tackle the forces that undermine today's family, and thus threaten the health of tomorrow's society", described its mission to be the "cultural watchmen and bearers of God's love and truth, operating under the belief that a society's health — in the broadest sense — cannot exceed that of its smallest grouping, the family".

In framing its mission, JCHS states that "in this momentous year of our 50th anniversary of Independence, all Jamaicans at home and abroad pause to reflect on this milestone, and the freedom and dignity it brought. At the same time, there are several other pressing issues which ought to cause concern.

"While significant attention is paid to more glaring issues such as ballooning debt, Government corruption and one of the highest rates of crime in the world, deeper, more troubling societal issues have emerged and now threaten the survival of our country. Sexual abuse of infants and the growing impact of pornography and predatory sexual oppression of our youth represent the tip of the iceberg.

"Dysfunctional family life, poverty, and the marketing of sex as a cheap and banal commodity are major contributors. Central to this self-perpetuating cycle is the fact that only one in five children is born into a stable union of married persons."

Germane to the raison d'être of JCHS is the issue of homosexuality and the growing climate of secularism, both internationally and domestically.

The advocacy group contends that added to Jamaica's internal dilemma is "the increasing pressure from international groups and foreign governments to alter the norms which have been traditionally accepted by Jamaicans... The new "norms" being imposed have not resulted in healthy societies in the more developed nations promoting them. Because of poor governance over decades since independence and economic pressures, the related cultural imperialism is not easily resisted by our leaders".

The head of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, Rev Dr Peter Garth, weighed in at the press conference with a presentation entitled 'Compassion without Compromise'. Seeking to remove the plank from the church's eyes first, Rev Garth began with an apology which stated: "The Jamaica Association of Evangelicals is profoundly aware that the Church has not always spoken clearly to the issue of human sexuality, and there have been times when leaders within the church have been among the chief offenders of the values and creational norm expressed in the Bible. We acknowledge this with a deep sense of repentance, dependent solely on the grace of God to enable us to address issues that are emotive and highly sensitive."

In presenting a list of 10 "affirmations" supported by the Church umbrella group, Rev Garth asserted: "Today, with deep humility:

1) We recognise that all of us are sinners and that the only true hope for sinful people is in Jesus Christ.

2) We affirm that monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only form of partnership approved by God for full sexual relations in our and every generation.

3) We firmly oppose sexual relations outside of a faithful, monogamous, marital relationship, whether those relationships are pre-marital, extra-marital, homoerotic, or purchased from a "sex worker".

4) We affirm God's love and concern for all humanity — including homosexual people, prostitutes, and those living in non-faithful, non-monogamous, non-marital sexual relationships — but believe homoerotic sexual practice, prostitution, and sex outside of marriage to be incompatible with the will of God as revealed in the Bible.

5) We repudiate homophobia insofar as it denotes an irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals. We do not accept, however, that to reject homoerotic sexual practice on biblical, medical, or moral grounds is in itself homophobic.

6) We oppose moves within certain churches towards permitting the ordination of sexually active lesbians and gay men to ministry. We stand prayerfully with those in such denominations who are seeking to resist those moves on biblical grounds.

7) We will continue to resist church services for blessing for gay partnerships as we consider gay unions to be a serious threat to the family.

8) We affirm that men and women are created in the image of God and as such should never be degraded to the status of commodities to be bought and sold in the "sex industry" or otherwise.

9) We do not consider sexual orientation to be a basic human right.

10) We believe and exercise compassion without compromise as it relates to homoerotic practices."

"Finally," the clergyman asserted, "on the matter of the review of the buggery law, I call upon the Government to submit this matter for the consideration of the Jamaican people in a referendum. Truly, the Church will continue to demonstrate compassion without compromise."

So the Church has begun throwing down the gauntlet, clearly sensing that the gathering storm of cultural imperialism is at our shores. One thing seems certain to me; it is that Jamaicans are not prepared to follow the tune of the international pied pipers, regardless of how indebted and "dependent" we may be.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens next.

With love,





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