Directing our paths
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
This coming week the Church of England is due to publish a set of resources called Living in Love and Faith, to help the denomination decide whether same-sex unions such as civil partnerships and marriages should have the church’s blessing. It is, as Lee Gatiss says in this clip, the latest of several such reports over the years.
There is a deep awareness that the culture has moved vastly over the past half century, and an anxiety that our message should not seem out of date or bigoted. There is a concern, too, for the welfare of people who are same-sex attracted should be properly treated in our churches, where at times they may have been marginalised.
So then, what are the churches to do with the agonising dilemmas facing us? We need to know a straight path!
The verses quoted above, from Proverbs, show us how to find that straight path. We are to trust the LORD, and not our own understanding. That does not mean we are not to think; far from it. Rather, as we think, we are to look to God for our wisdom, and not simply go with what seems right to us. For what seems right to us may not be right at all.
The whole of this section of Proverbs is a call to live wisely. Wisdom is personified as a woman who calls out across the city, who will bring us much blessing if we listen. If, on the other hand, we ignore her call, we will face disaster.
In practice, this means coming to the Bible for the principles to navigate issues like this, and trusting that God has given us in it what we need to know. That is how we lean on Him. Our Lord Jesus Himself lived with the Scriptures as His own authority, and also made provision for the writing of the New Testament by the Apostles He appointed.
Speaking for myself, I need to keep remembering to lean on Him for understanding, and trusting God with what He says, even if the culture (or our instincts) would have us think differently. It is the same for you; it is the same for all of our churches.
I have tried in a small way to help us to do this by answering some questions about this issue in a short article here.