Today the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) voted to ban people in sexual unions outside of marriage from entering the ministry.What a shock. What other conclusion could they have come to? This means that a man who is in a sexual relationship with a woman that he is not married to – or to any person that he is not married to for that matter – cannot become a minister in the church. This is not surprising for a Christian Church. The wording of the vote was explicit: People in a sexual relationship outside of marriage cannot be ministers.
Now let’s look at how the media reported it. The International Herald Tribune, using Allied Press as a source, ran with this headline:
“New Zealand Presbyterians ban gays from church leadership roles”
Ooo, look, the church is singling out gays! No, actually the quote was that nobody in a sexual relationship outside of marriage can become a minister. This includes same sex couples, yes, but it does not single out gays. There is nothing about this vote that implies that a gay person could not become a minister, provided he or she did not engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, and exactly the same standard applies to heterosexual candidates for the ministry.
The Asia-Pacific News, using Deutsche-Presse Agenteur as its source, used a similar headline:
“Presbyterian Church in New Zealand votes to ban gay ministers“
No. This is false. It is a lie. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are in the same boat on this one. Nobody who is having a sexual relationship outside of marriage can become a minister. Get it?
The New Zealand Herald was equally dishonest:
“Presbyterian Church votes to exclude gay ministers“
Simon Collins wrote the story in this case. Simon, you lied (or you’re gullible).
But all is not lost. In a shock revelation, I discovered that some media outlets used a headline that was actually not misleading! Radio New Zealand used this:
“Presbyterian church members vote in favour of relationship rule“
Thank you. The story accompanying the headline is quite correct: “The rule bars anyone in a sexual relationship outside marriage from training or becoming ordained.”
A friend of mine, Stuart Lange was asked the question by a Three News reporter after the vote: “Isn’t this just intolerance, pure and simple?” His reply was right on: “Well, you only call it intolerance because it reflects a belief different from yours.” Bingo. Christianity has always been intolerant. There just is a difference between Christian and non-Christian. To have literally no intolerance would mean accepting all beliefs and practices everywhere as equally acceptable. To expect a Church to do that is extraordinary to put it mildly.