GOVERNMENT AND MORALS COMMITTEE
REAFFIRMATION OF THIS PRESBYTERY’S POSITION ON MARRIAGE
IN THE LIGHT OF THE INCREASING ABANDONMENT OF BIBLICAL TEACHING ON THE MATTER
As apostasy from God and His Word deepens in our nation, all kinds of immorality abound throughout society. The consequence of every aspect of this increasing immorality is that God’s institution of marriage is constantly treated with scorn as a sinful people give vent to their corrupt lusts. Sadly, in a relatively short period of time, there has been an alarming abandonment of the teaching of Scripture on marriage as ordained by God. This contempt for Biblical marriage includes, not only the abandonment of it as a divine institution, but also direct attack upon it in the promotion and acceptance of so-called same-sex marriage. Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed by the Parliament of the UK, July 2013. In Scotland the legislation of same-sex marriage was passed by the Scottish Parliament, February 2014. Currently there is an increasing lobby for its legislation in Northern Ireland. Those who spearhead this lobby do so in defiance of God’s moral law and with arrogant contempt toward those who wish to honour the Lord’s revealed will for marriage. Moreover, this attack upon the divine institution of marriage, through favour and acceptance being shown toward same-sex marriage, is witnessed in varying degrees among visible bodies within professing ‘Christendom’ in the UK.
In such a day it is the duty of every section of Christ’s Church to remain faithful to Scripture on the subject of marriage and to reaffirm in a public manner a clear, Biblically-based position on this issue. That is the purpose of this position paper as formulated by the Officers of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. We believe that this reaffirmation is in keeping with the ordination vow taken by all ministers and ruling elders in which they promise before God to believe “…the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments not merely to contain but to be the verbally inspired Word of the Living God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” This vow in relation to Scripture binds our consciences on what God has revealed about the institution of marriage.
GOD’S INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE
In Genesis 1:27 Moses writes – “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” This is a general statement of the creation of man in God’s image but stressing distinction of gender. In Genesis 2 the Holy Spirit gives us some of the finer details, not only of human creation but of the institution of marriage also. The account of the two events melt into one as is especially seen in the record of the creation of Eve. The striking fact is that while Eve was taken from Adam in her creation, she was then joined to him again by the act of marriage. This is the import of Adam’s words in v.23 – “And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Adam’s words indicate that the beautiful creature brought to him by God was of the same species and nature as he possessed; a human being like him. Yet at the same time he knew that there was a difference, indicated by his next words – “…she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” In our English translation, but even more especially in the Hebrew original, it is seen that the man and the woman, while the same in nature, were different in gender. The Hebrew word for ‘man’ is ISH – one sense of the word being that it signifies husband. But the Hebrew word for ‘woman’ is ISHA – indicating one who is designed by God to be a wife.
The clear message is that the creation of Eve paved the way for the divine institution of marriage. God’s intention for marriage was that marriage would be constituted by two human beings coming together; but two people of different genders – male and female, as the Hebrew words ISH and ISHA signify. This fact is then reinforced by the divine comment in v.24 – “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Again, the word for man in this verse is ISH. The word for ‘wife’ is the same Hebrew word as for ‘woman’ in v.23. So, the verse could be read – “…a husband shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his woman and they shall be one flesh.” The Genesis 2 record of the divine institution of marriage is fundamental to a Biblical view of marriage. It undergirds all that the rest of Scripture has to say on the subject. It contains the implicit warning that any attempt to erode God’s revealed will for marriage – such as is inherent within same-sex marriage – will bring His just displeasure. In addition, Genesis 2 makes it incumbent upon Christ’s Church to be the voice for God’s institution of marriage when that institution is under virulent attack by the same-sex marriage agenda.
CHRIST’S PROPHETIC WARNING ABOUT THE LAST DAYS
The Lord Jesus Christ, the only Head of the Church, in Luke 17:28-30 delivers teaching that shows that the sin of same-sex or sodomite practices will mark the last days. In these verses the Lord draws a parallel between the days of Lot and the time of His Second Advent. In the course of what He teaches, the Lord specifically verifies the historicity of the destruction of Sodom. He declares – “…the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” Certainly the focus of Christ in Luke 17 is on the sudden destruction that will come on sinners at His coming just as sudden destruction came on the people of Sodom. However, other Scriptures such as Genesis 19 make it exceedingly clear that the sin for which the people of Sodom and its partner cities were destroyed was the sin of same-sex alliances. Therefore, in the parallel that Christ draws in Luke 17, there is surely the inference at least that the sin that brought God’s wrath on Sodom will characterise the times that precede His coming again. In the light of the global acceptance of same-sex or sodomite behaviour, Christ’s Church would do well to heed His prophetic warning in Luke 17.
GOD’S ABHORRENCE OF SAME-SEX SIN ABOVE OTHER SINS
Our Shorter Catechism teaches that while every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, yet there are some sins that are more heinous than others. Scripture leaves us in no doubt that same-sex partnerships at any level constitute sin that is heinous in the sight of God and is utterly abhorrent to Him. It is a sin that God specifically abominates, Leviticus 18:22; 20:13. The language used plainly speaks of a sexual alliance between men; and declares that “…they have committed an abomination.” In Romans 1:24-28 Paul describes the state of the Gentile world of the 1st century. His description plainly refers to same-sex sin on the part of men with men and women with women, vs.26-27. His exposure of this sin reveals that when nations and peoples are overrun by such sin it is a sign that they have been abandoned or given up by God. In Jude v.7 the sinners of Sodom and its associated cities “…are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” It is very striking that while the Spirit could have presented other Old Testament examples of sinners enduring such suffering, He chooses Sodom and its allies. His choice underlines the divine abhorrence of same-sex sin.
FORGIVENESS FOR ALL WHO REPENT OF SAME-SEX ALLIANCES
While Almighty God abhors the sin of sodomy and will judge all who refuse to repent of this sin, yet He is merciful to those who turn from it and seek forgiveness through Christ’s one atoning sacrifice. This is the clear teaching of the Spirit of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. The sin of sodomy is in view in the particular sins that Paul highlights. In v.9 the Apostle includes those who are “…effeminate,” and “…abusers of themselves with mankind.” These terms refer to both passive and active participants in same-sex relationships; thus debarring those who are guilty from entering the kingdom of God. However, v.11 gives the assurance that where there is repentance from such sin, for the penitent one there is cleansing from this sin, to be set apart to live a holy life through Christ, accepted and declared righteous by God in justification.
In the light of these Scriptures this Presbytery affirms:
• That marriage between one man and one woman was ordained of God and is therefore a divine institution;
• That since civil government is to base its laws on marriage upon divine law, the law of the land should uphold the divine institution of marriage. It follows –
• That while marriage is also a civil contract, no civil government has the right to change the divine institution of marriage;
• That the introduction and legislation of so-called same-sex partnerships or marriages by the state is a violation of God’s moral law in relation to marriage and is abhorrent to Him;
• That all ministers and elders of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, who at ordination subscribed the Westminster Confession of Faith, which in Ch.24, Section 1 states that “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman,” are thereby before God bound by that ordination oath not only to uphold the divine institution of marriage between male and female but are also required not to condone or endorse any same-sex or sodomite alliance. It follows, therefore –
• That as ministers and elders of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, being bound by our adherence to the infallible Scriptures and by our ordination vow to defend the truths of the said Scriptures; we hereby re-affirm our adherence to its unchanging and unchangeable teaching on the divine and sacred institution of marriage and our opposition to acceptance and promotion of same-sex alliances.
GOVERNMENT AND MORALS COMMITTEE
2nd November 2015 – Letter to the editor of the News Letter
For the fifth time in the space of three years the redefinition of marriage is to be debated in the Northern Ireland assembly, under the guise of it being a matter of equality.
It is very interesting to note the comment made by the NIHRC in their submission to the Legislative Consent Motion in 2013. They said-
“The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECt.HR) and the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) has confirmed that the restriction of the institution of marriage to opposite sex couples is not in violation of international human rights standards.”
So here are two international bodies mentioned and they say it is NOT an issue of equality, it is NOT a right!
Some would also say that we are falling behind the rest of the world and are dinosaurs but according to the statistics less than 10% of the member states in the UN have redefined marriage.
What we are witnessing is part of a liberal agenda to force Northern Ireland into redefining marriage despite the view of its people. Gerry Adams described equality as the “Trojan horse” and the Labour’s Ivan Lewis, the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary said, “my party believes the government should give serious consideration to introduce legislation at Westminster to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland”, in other words it should be forced upon Northern Ireland.
These views have little to do with rights or equality, rather it is one group wanting to ride rough-shod over everyone else with a differing opinion, regardless of the impact that it may have on children, families or society.
When we consider the treatment of Ashers Baking Company and any who challenge the LGBT agenda, Bible believing Christians are left feeling that they dare not express their dearly held opinions or they will be accused of hate crimes or will become the subject of a media witch hunt.
As a Denomination we hold to the Scriptural definition of marriage as that of one man and one woman for as long as they both shall live (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:6-9). We believe that this is God’s pattern for the well-being of family life, in the bringing up of children and for the good of society at large. A deviation from this godly pattern has no benefits but rather will be the forerunner of more broken homes and broken lives.
Any sexual relationship outside of the marriage bond is contrary to the law of God and is sinful. This is not to be construed as hatred against the individual rather it is love that warns them of the consequences of such conduct for by the words of Paul we learn that there were those in his congregation who had been saved and changed from such lifestyles. (1 Cor 6:9-11).
Government and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster
19th May 2015
Though today’s ruling in the Belfast County Court against the Ashers Baking Company is hugely disappointing, it is hardly surprising. Over the course of many years the Parliaments and courtrooms of our nation have increasingly legislated for sin and against righteousness.
However even allowing for this ruinous trend does not help us to understand how a judge in Belfast can reach a verdict that rules in favour of the promotion of an activity – same-sex marriage – that, by four successive votes in our legislative Assembly, remains illegal in Northern Ireland.
In legal terms, this is a significant judgment because it militates against freedom of conscience and freedom of speech and effectively opens the door to other opportunists to bring an endless stream of expensive “discrimination” cases against a wide variety of businesses, both Christian and non-Christian.
This ruling has also established what we long suspected: a bogus “equality” is being foisted upon us which dictates that a Christian may exercise his right of conscience to hold to Biblical principles when he is at home, but not when he is in the workplace, whereas a homosexual may exercise his right to promote an immoral cause both at home and in the workplace. In the latter arena, this ruling affirms that ‘gay rights’ do not equal, but trump, those of Christians.
That this outcome is not what the majority of persons in our country wished for was evidenced by a huge groundswell of support that manifested itself across Northern Ireland when the Equality Commission decided to ‘persecute’ this small family-run business. Successive polls gauged support for Ashers as running between 70% and 90%.
In Scriptural terms, the ruling against Ashers confirms the reliability and relevance of the Bible, God’s relevation to man. An outstanding commentary on current world events is provided by the Old Testament prophecy of Habakkuk. Among many salient phrases, the 4th verse of the opening chapter of this book summarises what we have witnessed today: “Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.”
No matter what any secular court determines, the Bible remains unshaken in its verdict that same-sex marriage is sin (Genesis 2:24, Malachi 2:15, Mark 10:7-9, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
A study of this short book of Habakkuk reveals the reasons behind events in our world today, details God’s coming judgment upon sin, and assures us that, no matter what else happens, He remains in control and will certainly build His Church. Those who read Habakkuk will not fail to be impressed by God’s prescription for His people: genuine repentance produces revival blessings.
The primary allegiance of the Christian is always to a higher authority and Judge; as the apostles of the first century avowed, so we maintain today: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
As a fellowship of churches, we express our continued support for Ashers in this contrived controversy, plus we urgently call on our government to withdraw support from the promotion of this wickedness and direct our nation back to biblical values before the greater clouds of condemnation that are gathering over our nation burst upon us.
Rev. John Greer (Moderator)
Rev. Ian Brown (Clerk)
Rev. Thomas Murray (Deputy Moderator)
GOVERNMENT AND MORALS COMMITTEE
This week we see two great moral issues brought to the fore in Northern Ireland that should cause deep concern to the heart of every Bible believing Christian.
Firstly there is the court case regarding Ashers Baking Company and secondly the Euro 2016 qualifier being played on the Lord’s Day.
Firstly in regard to the court case against Ashers, the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster would like to reiterate its support for the Biblical definition of marriage as found in – Mark 10:6-8 “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”
We reject and oppose the efforts by some to introduce a form of “marriage” that is contrary to Scriptural teaching and will undoubtedly be detrimental to society and the family unit.
Testimonies from those who have been brought up in the environment of same-sex “marriage” reveal that both male and female parenting, by a mother and a father is the “best and most successful family structure” within the home.
In our adherence to the Divine institution of marriage, we wholly oppose the efforts that are being made by the so-called Equality Commission to prosecute Ashers Baking Company Ltd, for their refusal to endorse unlawful “gay marriage”. We believe that they, as well as everyone else, should be permitted to conduct their lawful business enterprise in accordance with their Christian conscience.
The recent comments in the Guardian by the chairman of this publically-funded body Mr Michael Wardlow, that Christians should “either look at the law or maybe that is not the business they should be in” clearly highlight the attitude of the Commission to those opposed to “gay marriage”. It would certainly seem from this statement and others made by the Commission that they have decided that sodomite partnerships should be made legal in Northern Ireland.
Secondly in connection with the football match, we would once again voice our opposition to the decision by the IFA to permit this game to be played at Windsor Park on the Lord’s Day 29th March. The fourth commandment states “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”. This match is a blatant dismissal of this command and serves only to please the television companies. It has been planned without any thought for, or consultation with, the local church community.
We have expressed our views to the IFA and have undertaken a public protest to display our opposition to this dishonouring of the Lord’s Day.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34
STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF DR. IAN R. K. PAISLEY
FORMER MODERATOR OF THE GENERAL PRESBYTERY OF THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF ULSTER
It is with deep sadness and regret that we have learned of the passing of Dr. Paisley, retired minister of our denomination and former moderator of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.
We pay tribute to the many, many years of faithful Gospel ministry that Dr. Paisley exercised both in Northern Ireland and also farther afield. Under the hand of God, Dr. Paisley was mightily used of the Lord in the conversion of many to Jesus Christ. Throughout the Free Presbyterian Church at home and abroad and in various other Christian churches there are large numbers of people who recognise Dr. Paisley as the instrument God used to bring them to the Saviour.
We remember also the huge contribution that Dr. Paisley made to the foundation and formation of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster; and we salute his gifted leadership in his role as moderator of Presbytery over many decades.
We are grateful that through Dr. Paisley’s faithful and anointed preaching of God’s Word and the stand he took for Christ’s cause, the Spirit of God raised a Biblical witness against apostasy from Christ. And we thank the Lord that this witness for truth continues under the blessing of God to this day.
We publicly extend to his wife and family our sincere Christian sympathy on the home-going of their dear loved one. In their time of deepest loss, when their hearts are broken and grief-stricken, we assure them of our prayerful support.
“…Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:1-2
On behalf of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster:
Rev. John Greer, Moderator
Rev. Thomas Murray, Deputy-Moderator
Rev. Ian Brown, Clerk