Christchurch Councillor Code of Conduct Campaign

The 2019 Christchurch local body elections were marred by accusations brought against a sitting councillor in the Central ward, who was standing for re-election. It soon emerged that the complaints had been brought against them months earlier, but the Mayor had decided to support her protege by keeping quiet on the matter,  and the matter proceeded behind the scenes until four months later when the complainants, the highly respected Canterbury Youth Workers Collective, filed a formal complaint against the councillor which soon became public knowledge.

Subsequently the acting CEO of the CCC appointed a retired High Court Associate Judge to undertake an investigation of the complaints, and his report has found “two of the complaints raised are material and require a full investigation…one of the complaints [has been] referred to another agency” (believed to be the Police). The said Councillor was rejected by the voters in his ward and consequently failed to be re-elected to Council. Following the elections the CCC’s new Chief Executive stated she would be dropping the Code of Conduct complaint as there was no provision for action to be taken against a former member. A community of support has formed around the ousted councillor loudly proclaiming he is innocent of the alleged questionable conduct, and claiming a political witch-hunt was organised against the councillor by his political opponents. This is further covered in more depth at This Is Christchurch.

At this blog, we are concerned that the serious matter of alleged sexual harrassment of the young persons represented by the respected Canterbury Youth Workers Collective has been largely submerged in the crossfire between the Councillor’s supporters, CCC and other political candidates in Central Ward. The complainants appear to have followed proper process, yet there are suggestions that defamation action may be commenced against them. All of this appears heavy handed and an attempt to shut down the complaints, an inappropriate response in the circumstances. We will be approaching our local MP to campaign for a fair and just process for the complainants who have been subject to considerable villification from the Councillor’s wealthy and politically powerful supporters.

Revised Statement of Beliefs and Principles

Our revised statement appears below. This has been updated to address new focuses for our present and forthcoming ministry.

We are excited to see new developments and opportunities for the development of our ministry that we believe are starting to open up.

This section is divided into two parts: a generic evangelical statement of faith, and bulleted points specifically addressing the work and ministry of this site.
Statement of Faith
  1. There is one God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
  2. In the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God; we believe in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His victorious and atoning death, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, His constant intercession and in His imminent return.
  3. In the person and work of the Holy Spirit with His fruits and gifts available in the Church.
  4. The Bible is the living word of God. It is infallible, authoritative and everlasting and is the foundation of all Christian doctrine.
  5. In the existence of an evil spiritual being known as the devil.
  6. In the spiritually lost condition of all people and the essential need for the new birth by faith in Jesus Christ.
  7. In the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a gift available to believers subsequent to the new birth, with normal evidence of speaking in other tongues.
  8. In the sacraments of the Lords Supper and baptism by full immersion in water for all believers.
  9. In the resurrection of both the saved and the lost, the one to everlasting life and the other to everlasting separation from God.
  10. In the Church being the body of Christ, and each member being an active part of a local church, fulfilling the Great Commission.
  11. Christian marriage was instituted by God, ratified by Jesus, and is exclusively between a man and a woman. It is a picture of Christ and his Church.
  12. Sex is a gift from God for procreation and unity, and when practised by believers is only appropriate within and designed for marriage.
The Work and Ministry of This Site
  • The key purposes of this blog and page are to promote an interest in ministry which specifically addresses the need for sexual wholeness as an aspirational goal of all Christians.
  • God is the Healer and He is able to help all Christians to achieve a personal goal of sexual wholeness and purity in accordance with Biblical standards and purposes.
  • We endorse the theology of Christian Egalitarianism which gives women equal placement with men in ministries of the Church and in everyday Christian living, regardless of marital status. This includes that women are able to participate in the leadership of all ministry roles, including but not limited to, evangelism, teaching, pastoring or eldership. “All followers of Jesus Christ are called to any ministry or service without distinction or discrimination on the basis of gender, race or class.” (There may be specific exceptions in certain aspects of pastoral ministry such as personal counselling ministry where there is a preference for counsellor and counsellee to be of the same gender)
  • We believe that complementarian theology and its subtext “purity culture” is especially and distinctly harmful to Christian women because of
  • its denial of basic female sexuality, including its teachings that a godly woman’s key purposes in life are to provide for her husband’s sexual needs and mother her children, and therefore also denies singleness as a valid lifestyle choice for Christian women;
  • its extreme affirmation of male biological sexual desire in that it teaches that men essentially have uncontrollable sexual desires that women are responsible for addressing;
  • its principle of blaming women for sexually provoking men through inappropriate clothing choices or activities, and its extreme legalistic unbiblical teachings on personal purity for women that deny the message of grace taught by our Lord Jesus Christ;
  • its denial of womens’ contribution to the life and faith of believers, including leadership roles in churches.
  • We affirm that faithful Christians are spread across the entire political spectrum from left to right and that political partisanship or polarisation constitutes an unnecessary division within the global Church as the body of all believers in Jesus Christ.
  • We affirm that only God knows who His true followers are and that denominational partisanship or polarisation constitutes an unnecessary division within the global Church as the body of all believers in Jesus Christ.
  • Whilst recognising the Biblical institution of marriage as reflected in our statement of faith articles 12 and 13:
  • We believe that the Church needs to recognise and endorse singleness as a valid choice within the church for faithful believers and create more ministries that are geared specifically for singles.
  • We also believe that the Church needs to recognise and specifically support married couples who do not have children, whether through fertility struggles or personal choice.
  • The Church especially needs to endorse and support believers who choose singleness due to struggles with gender dysphoria, same-sex attraction, autism, intersex or other challenges that prevent them from being able to marry in accordance with the Biblical standards of marriage, so that they can live lives that are fully affirming and pleasing to God and participate equally in all ministries of the Church including leadership.
  • We believe all true followers of God to uphold a Biblically based view of sexuality inasmuch as:
  • it respects and protects the sovereignty and humanity of each individual person
  • it respects and protects the right to informed consent at all times
  • it strives to nullify or reverse sexually objectifying, exploitative or denigrative attitudes and messages that are commonly broadcast in mainstream media
  • it seeks to educate members of society as a whole about the rights of individuals to freedom from sexual objectification, exploitation or denigration and the negative impact of sexually objectifying, exploitative or denigratives attitudes and messages.
  • it propagates a message of hope and healing for persons (whether followers of God or not) who have suffered from sexual abuse or trauma or exploitation.
  • it respects legal rights and protections afforded to any person in relation to any sexual act committed against them.
  • We believe it is the role of the Church to speak out against negative messages about human sexuality in society, including but not limited to:
  • Sexual objectification, aggression or harrassment in society against women by men, or any other form of same;
  • The widespread availability of and harm caused by pornographic materials and the wider sex industry;
  • Sex education for children that includes but is not limited to any of the following:
  • promotes unbiblical messages about human sexuality;
  • Is based on complementarian theology;
  • sexualises early childhood (prior to adolescence);
  • sexualises or objectifies men or women.
This list constitutes a subset of our core beliefs and principles. We reserve the right to change these at any time without prior consultation or notice.

NZ Abortion Legislation Bill

This afternoon in New Zealand, the Government introduced the Abortion Legislation Bill into Parliament for its first reading. We watched the debate live on national TV.

Our position is that we feel there is little need for this legislation, but the issue is just one of a number of issues loosely termed “reproductive rights”. This bigger picture of reproductive rights for women requires to be debated within the Christian community here and elsewhere, in light of some very conservative theological positions that have been traditionally held within numerous churches.

The Bill is now lying with a select committee for public submissions and will be reported back to the House in due course, at which point there will be further debates and votes.

Opinion: How Should Christians Have Sex?

This is an interesting commentary in the New York Times about purity culture and the potential harm it causes. A key point is that many churches still teach some form of purity culture, because nothing else has come along to fill its place. Evangelical teaching on sexuality is still largely derived from what we inherited from the Catholics, and whilst we understand fully well the distaste for the more liberal teachings that have come out of the progressive church in recent decades, the problem is that purity culture has been allowed to capture the evangelical church as a whole and remains significant, despite being a creation of the extremely conservative Southern Baptist Convention and its misogynistic complementarian theology.

 

 

Moral corruption of politics and sexual abuse scandals goes hand in hand. So why do Christians get into politics?

The biggest sexual abuse scandal in the western Churches historically has been in the Roman Catholic Church. A Church which made itself out to be morally superior to all others and which has also enjoyed considerable political power for centuries. In the early 21st century a pillar of the Christian Conservative political movement in the USA is engulfed in a scandal of its own. The Southern Baptist Convention is being found to have engaged in practices very similar to the Catholics in having minimised and covered up instances of abuse within its ranks, shielding perpetrators from the law, and denying justice to victims.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14 we are enjoined by Paul that we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. There can be multiple ways of applying this to our daily lives as believers. One obvious context is in marriage; another is in business. The application for Christians seeking to align themselves with a cause, such as a political party, is also very important.  Another applicable scripture, from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (ch 5 v 9), reads “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?”. Clearly this is a reference to the risk that just opening a door a little to a particular belief or ideology risks that it will soon get into everything and take over everything in its path.

I am constantly enjoined by conservative Christian friends we should all support Donald Trump because he is allegedly God’s chosen man in America. They are all unable to tell me why God has not chosen a ruler anywhere else in the world or why it is that God fearing Republican presidents are replaced by godless Democrat ones every 8 years. Dig deeper into these beliefs and they are largely based on the idea that America will rule the world and are God’s chosen instrument and what have you. The Bible does not mention America and the book they chose to interpret to base their beliefs on, Revelation, is hotly disputed by scholars, many of whom believe it was written around events at the time when John penned it, rather than an unknown length of time into the distant future. Ultimately the Christian Right in America have above all else an ungodly thirst for political power and therefore have hitched their wagons to successive Republican administrations despite the above admonitions and having their fingers and credibility burnt on a number of occasions.

Hence to return this post to the context of the Southern Baptist Convention – the sexual abuse scandals have come about because of the quest of its leadership to attain political power and status over a period of decades, by aligning themselves with conservative political causes especially after the American Revolution (supporting slavery and segregation) and becoming the dominant force in the SBC introducing ultra conservative theology (complementarianism) on the role and leadership of women in their churches, allowing their member churches to cover up and conceal the extent of the sexual abuse scandals largely because they perceive themselves to be morally superior and protected by the political establishment of their day.

Victoria, Victor, Victory – a US family lovingly raise their second intersex child

Currently, knowledge of intersex issues is being overshadowed by the furore over transgender and gender identity spectrum.

WHAT DOES INTERSEX MEAN?

Amie first married when she was young, and had her first child more than 20 years ago. Instead of having one X chromosome and one Y chromosome, as men have, or two X chromosomes, as is typically female, the child had two X’s and a Y. (In other words, their chromosomal makeup is 47 XXY, which in males is the most common karotype associated with “Klinefelters Syndrome”). In this particular case, however, according to her account, the child had undescended testicles, and developed distinctly female characteristics at puberty, perhaps resulting from another condition like partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, or possibly because they were XXY female to begin with. (We are not claiming to be intersex experts here, but there have been cases where a 47 XXY karotype has been identified in females)

Hence my own personal situation of being a 47,XXY male with most of the physical characteristics of my body being distinctively male, but somewhat feminised, and requiring Reandron injections to maintain a normal range of serum testosterone in my bloodstream, due to insufficient natural production from underdeveloped testes, is an example of an intersex condition, and relatively straightforward to address, compared to the wider range of intersex conditions that exist across the spectrum.

In the article, Amie’s second child Victory is a “female” with 47,XXY karotype who also has partial androgen insensitivity syndrome and ambiguous genitalia, with a birth certificate that reads “boy” assigned on the basis of a Y chromosome. Consequently, “he” is somewhat ambiguous in their gender identity in childhood (currently self identifying as female), but can expect this will become more pronounced at adolescence as the impact of PAIS will be that their body will fail to masculinise and become more distinctly female in appearance. They have the option of having genital surgery in the future if they wish to identify more strongly with a particular gender but it will be their personal choice. There is currently fierce debate in the medical community over whether parents and medical professionals should make a decision for an intersex child to have their genitals corrected, or whether it should be left for the child to make a decision for themselves as an adult. Victoty is unable to get their birth certificate changed to “girl” due to opposition from legal officials in their part of conservative Utah.

There is currently unnecessary prejudice and misunderstanding against the intersex community, including in New Zealand, coming from ultra conservative Christian groups (probably ones that restrict women in ministry and teach complementarian gender theology). I’ll refer to that more fully in my next post.

 

Understanding Transgender Identities: Four Views

Whether you agree or disagree with the political causes on matters of sexuality like this, they are issues that the Church needs to come to terms with.

One of the most pressing issues facing the evangelical church today involves dramatic shifts in our culture’s perceptions regarding human sexuality. While homosexuality and same-sex marriage have been at the forefront, there is a new cultural awareness of sexual diversity and gender dysphoria. The transgender phenomenon has become a high-profile, battleground issue in the culture wars.

This book offers a full-scale dialogue on transgender identities from across the Christian theological spectrum. It brings together contributors with expertise and platforms in the study of transgender identities to articulate and defend differing perspectives on this contested topic. After an introductory chapter surveys key historical moments and current issues, four views are presented by Owen Strachan, Mark A. Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky, Megan K. DeFranza, and Justin Sabia-Tanis. The authors respond to one another’s views in a respectful manner, modeling thoughtful dialogue around a controversial theological issue. The book helps readers understand the spectrum of views among Christians and enables Christian communities to establish a context where conversations can safely be held.

Dr Mark A. Yarhouse heads the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity, based at Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m intersex”

https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/108603420/time-to-come-out-hi-im-sarah-and-im-intersex

This is an important issue and it is one that I believe the Church as a whole has yet to come to grips with in terms of an appropriate response to people who are intersex.

However, it is important to note that the tacking of the letter I onto LGBT, auch as LGBTI, is highly controversial and not accepted universally by the intersex community.  It is quite possible to be intersex, and be opposed to LGBT activism in the Church, for example. This is because intersex is quite a different issue altogether fromn LGBT, although persons who are intersex may struggle with gender identity issues not unlike those who identify as transgender.

The main question for the Church at large is not that people are intersex (or for that matter, people identify with LGBT); it is simply what is an appropriate set of lifestyle choices for people who identify with any of these communities and who also belong to a church. The evangelical approach to this is largely conditioned by the type of genitals that a person possesses on the assumption that the role model for sexual intercourse is predicated on the marriage of two persons who possess opposite genital types. It follows from that that any believer who is sexually attracted to someone with the same type of genitals is expected to live a celibate life.

Intersex however is complicated by the fact that some individuals had their genitals surgically altered from one type to the other in childhood without their consent, and may wish to reverse the surgical changes in adulthood. This is somewhat different from those who are transgender seeking reassignment surgery, but a complex question where intersex individuals do not have a chromosomal or hormonal disorder that alters their gender specific characteristics.

The question for any individual Christian believer is ultimately one that can really only be settled with personal prayer and seeking after God’s will for one’s life. Here at CSW, we have a deep interest in the approach to LGBTI issues that is appropriate for the Church as a whole and for individual cases, and our expected future ministry of healing counsel and prayer will be expanded to include these areas.

Complementarianism vs Egalitarianism in the Church – An examination of theological beliefs on sexuality in light of Linda Kay Klein’s new book.

Just in this past quarter, Touchstone Publishing (a division of Simon and Schuster) have released Linda Kay Klein’s compelling personal critique of the complementarianist evangelical sexual purity movement which became prominent in the 1990s with the resurgence of complimentarian theological beliefs in organisations such as the Southern Baptist Convention. “Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free” is a compelling narrative of life growing up in a complementarian evangelical community; one that teaches essentially that women are subservient and submissive to men. Whilst we of this site are not uninformed about the general principles of complementarianism, especially in comparison with the more familiar egalitarianism practiced in many large Pentecostal churches as well as most mainline denominations, the role of the complementarian theological community in creating the purity movement that shames and demeans female sexuality is something new to us. Klein’s account of her own journey through adolescence and early adulthood both from her personal perspective and of her peers, is a disturbing tale of what this branch of theology teaches women about their value and worth as inferior image bearers of God. We’re not going to say that we of the egalitarian school of belief have necessarily got all the answers and got it right either, because we don’t know at this time of any systematic denunciation of purity programs from our side of the theological fence, or if any type of sexuality education programs for children have been developed from an egalitarian perspective. Whilst this particular branch of the purity movement became prominent in the 1990s, the ideas behind it and complementarianism in general are certainly not new, but are thankfully looking increasingly out of step with our knowledge and understanding of gender roles in the 21st century  church.

In order to inform the reader of the relevance of the complementarian school of theology that is critically examined in Klein’s book, and the contrary views of egalitarianism, let us take a little side trip here. The rise of evangelical purity movements in the last decade of the 20th century, particularly “True Love Waits” and Joshua Harris’s well known and now-disowned book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, which was even recommended to one of us by a pastor in our egalitarian Pentecostal fellowship of that era, owes much to what has become known as the “conservative resurgence” in the Southern Baptist Convention of the United States of America. This resurgence was a political movement which rose up to dominate the SBC and purge leaders who were seen as unwilling to enforce a conservative complementarian theology in all aspects of SBC ministry including their seminaries. Interestingly, Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church of North Carolina, whilst unashamedly proud of their Southern Baptist roots, are affiliated to the State Baptist Convention NC, which appears to endorse at least some aspects of egalitarian belief contrary to those of its parent organisation; women are allowed to preach at Elevation Church. Complementarianism, the theological school of thought influencing and practiced by the present day Southern Baptist Convention, is well known for its prominent advocates, among them John MacArthur,  John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Elisabeth Elliott, John Wimber, Albert Mohler and others. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is a complementarian theology lobby organisation that was behind the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood of 1988, a key collection of statements setting forth the complementarianist perspective on godly sexuality and gender roles. More recently (2017) CBMW propounded and subsequently disseminated the Nashville Statement, signed by more than 150 evangelical Christian leaders. Nashville essentially restates the complementarian beliefs of Danvers and adds to them conservative statements about present day sexuality controversies such as LGBT and transgender issues. Whilst it is difficult to discern how widespread complimentarian theology has been propagated in times past, it appears to be largely a reactionary rather than revolutionary movement, having become prominent in the 1970s as aspects of feminism then being propagated in evangelical circles became a challenge to its proponents. The most fundamental concern that we must have about the complementarian movement is that its teachings, apart from their overall negative viewpoint of female sexuality in general, often seek to deny or minimise abusive practices by male members of the church and society, something that is becoming thankfully becoming increasingly less acceptable.  Complementarianism’s implicit adherence to such concepts has taken a huge battering in recent times with increasingly shocking revelations such as those of widespread abuse in Fundamentalist Baptist Churches and the sacking of Paige Patterson, a key proponent of the SBC “conservative resurgence” from his longstanding role as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminar. Certainly, claims by prominent pastor-teacher John Piper that complementarianistic beliefs should be adopted in order to protect women from abuse seem remarkably ill informed in light of these recent scandals.

Christian egalitarianism essentially teaches that women can hold any role in a church including that of senior pastor and it informs a significant percentage of otherwise conservative churches (such as many Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God and New Life Churches of New Zealand) as well as more liberal mainline churches worldwide. Christians for Biblical Equality is a prominent exponent of the egalitarian school of theology; whilst we are unaware of egalitarian equivalents to Danvers and Nashville, egalitarianism is at least implicitly endorsed in our part of the world by the Australian Christian Churches (Assemblies of God) and its members. Brooke Ligertwood, a New Zealand born musician who has risen to prominence both in the secular music industry and in leadership in Hillsong Worship in Australia and the US, acknowledges the influence in her home country of a succession of female prime ministers, an example of the secular aspect of egalitarianism in an otherwise conservative political environment of the 1990s. New Zealand was prominent in the suffrage movement, becoming the first self-governing colony worldwide to give women the right to vote. Subsequently, Ligertwood, who is now based in Los Angeles and involved with her Australian husband in the core leadership of Hillsong LA, has taken a prominent role in raising up a new generation of female worship leaders at Hillsong Church. Hillsong Church and Planetshakers Church are two of the largest churches in Australia and both feature women in prominent leadership roles within church ministries. CBE was itself founded some three decades ago in 1987, but its core beliefs have, by admission of the complementarian movement, had influence going back earlier than this. The egalitarian movement whilst subjected to withering and ceaseless criticism from complementarians, has suffered no scandals of the type that have plagued the complementarian movement, although it has fractured over a number of key divisions between more and less conservative viewpoints in certain matters of human sexuality.

Klein’s book is a compelling read, not just from the perspective of her challenging and at times harrowing personal account or that of her peers; it is also a narrative of her own voyage of discovery and deliverance from the damaging and demeaning beliefs of her church and various trials of life along the way. Whilst Klein and some of her interviewees have moved into  more progressive expressions of faith than our egalitarian Pentecostal influenced theological instincts would necessarily feel at home with, that doesn’t detract from the key issues and problems that she raises with the type of evangelicalist beliefs that she grew up with. (After all, purity programs have probably infiltrated into parts of our conservative egalitarian theological thinking, too). This book has been a great educational tool for us at a time when we’re branching out in our ministry interests and examining a range of different perspectives on what a godly view of sexuality really is. The key questions we feel inclined to examine is what influence the egalitarian theological school has had on purity movements and culture of the type that Klein outlines in her work and this remains for us a very key aspect of our ongoing interest in this subject. This book gets our endorsement and recommendation, subject to the rider that some adherents of the more conservative end of the egalitarian theological spectrum may be challenged by the more liberal theme that is interwoven throughout the narrative.

Published by Touchstone (Simon and Schuster), September 2018.

https://lindakayklein.com/pure/

Hello :)

It’s taken several goes to get this blog happening but we are now in business and we hope that the content of the blog will provide a useful backdrop to these fairly important issues related to our sexuality and sexual identities as Christian believers.

Content from this blog is automatically syndicated to the Facebook page whenever a new post is made, so you can just follow Facebook if you want to keep up with the content we are publishing here.

The blog is marked as “adult content” in the WordPress.com management system, purely because some of the content may be more suitable for mature audiences. We are just wanting to be really careful about complying with the expectations of both WordPress and Facebook, because some ministries working in this area have had significant problems with Facebook in particular limiting them from posting content whether directly onto Facebook or from an attached page.

So we hope this blog touches upon the important issues that we face as Christians in relation to our sexuality, sexual identity and how the world views Christian beliefs in these matters.