Recently, in an interview on Premier radio, Steve Chalke, the founder of Oasis Church, discussed how he has applied for a licence to perform same-sex “marriages” in his church. In the interview, Chalke states:
Oasis Church in Waterloo [London] has reached the decision, it's taken us some time to reach it, that this is something we want to do. We're registering at the moment and we will be able to do this.
Chalke claims that:
This is not because we're liberal, it's not because we're light on the Bible, it's because we take the Bible very seriously. We want to move away from an over-simplistic, over-literalistic, immature understanding over biblical texts that dumps many but keeps the ones we want.
It should be no surprise that Chalke has collapsed to the cultural norm of conducting same-sex “marriages,” since he has long abandoned the Bible as God’s authoritative Word. Over the last decade he has already accepted same-sex relationships, likened penal substitutionary atonement—Christ’s death on the Cross to satisfy God’s judgement—to “cosmic child abuse,” and described the belief that God created the world in Six Days (Exodus 20:11) as “rubbish.” Sadly, Chalke has chosen the perversion of God’s created order in human sexuality (Romans 1:26–27) over the biblical truth that marriage is between one man and one woman. But this is what one has to do in order to be accepted by our society: deny the biblical truth that marriage is the union of only two people—a male and female (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5).
Bizarrely, Chalke tries to rationalize his decision to “marry” same-sex couples by saying that it is the result of taking “the Bible very seriously”! How seriously did he take the texts stating that marriage is between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:6–8; Ephesians 5:31) and the ones that condemn the practice of homosexuality (Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:9–11)? One can only imagine that Chalke has not taken these texts very seriously at all, since he has already rationalized them away as an “over-simplistic, over-literalistic, immature” reading of these texts. While Chalke may deny that he is a liberal, this language is often used by those who are unwilling to submit to biblical authority and who want to bring in another source of authority: autonomous human reason—the essence of liberalism.
In his book Christianity and Liberalism, the twentieth-century theologian J. Gresham Machen described liberalism as another religion. The reason for this is that liberalism is a denial of the biblical Christ and His gospel. An essential part of the message of liberalism is moralism (see Galatians 1:8–9, 2:16), which basically says, “Do this and you will live a happier life.” Jesus cuts the heart out of this message when He says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
The message of Christianity is not self-serving but is about confessing Christ as Lord (John 13:13; Romans 10:9) and living under that lordship, which means being obedient to the teachings of Jesus (John 15:10, 14; cf. Matthew 19:4–6).
Chalke’s rejection of the biblical doctrine of marriage has nothing to do with the ambiguity of Scripture. Instead, it is driven by a desire to synthesise autonomous human reason with the Bible. This always ends in disaster.
Not only is it a rejection of the doctrine of marriage, but it is also a rejection of the transforming power of the gospel. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of the beauty and power of the gospel to transform lives in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
The good news offered to us in the gospel is one of transformation from our sin, not a liberty to continue in it (Romans 6:1–2).