International Mission Statement of The Salvation Army:
‘The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based upon the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.'
The Salvation Army teaches that sexual acts should take place only in a monogamous heterosexual marriage, believing that this reflects God's intentions for sexual behaviour and provides the best environment for raising children. Marriage is a covenant between God and wife and husband, ideally providing resources of grace, forgiveness and love to sustain a lifelong faithful relationship.
Once again the FSAOF blog will focus on what is currently the church’s most controversial, contentious and divisive issue; the GLBT community and their relationship to the church.
The FSAOS has focused and received more comments on this issue more than any other in our five and half-year history. And, I can safely say that no other topic has garnered even half as much interest and debate as we watched the number of visitors double and even triple in excess of three hundred per day. Opportunity was provided for all in and outside our fellowship to participate by submitting articles and to offer rejoinders.
When we began posting articles on the GLBT issue we were alone in doing so in SA related blog sites. And what made ours unique is that the FSAOF is primarily a public venue as our audience profile reflects that more than 60% of our visitors have no identifiable SA affiliation. Consequently, many who read our exchanges would have encountered their first ever introduction to the SA’s theological position on the GLBT and other issues The general public knows little about our theology and it was rewarding to note the many return visitors.
All the postings were very respectful and helpful with none rejected or edited. Irenicism reigned; from the Greek word ειρήνη (eirene) meaning peace. It was the FSAOF’s attempt to unify our apologetical system by using reason and inclusivity as the essential attributes. Theologians who affiliate themselves with irenicism identify the importance of unity in the Christian church, and we sought to declare the common SA bond we share in and under Christ. It was a welcome opportunity to defend the Army’s position while acknowledging the strengths, emotions and realities of the opposing views, new to many.
The tradition of the SA on the question of GLBT issues has, until our public discussions, been largely ‘ignorant’, curiously silenced and naïve, many would add. We (TSA) have not actively opposed homosexuality, we’ve simply been silent and actively covered it up when necessary. It’s been of only marginal concern until the FSAOF and a few other SA affiliated groups began to speak out on ‘coming out”.
As expected there were a fair number of responses that were emotionally-driven. Yet, the blog comments suggested that our presentation of opposing viewpoints provided all with a good model for how logical level headed disagreement and debate can best be executed. I believe that as a result of the blog series many, including me, picked up their spears and re-drew their line in the sand. End part One
Ethics - The formation of Human Values
Moscow State University
Former SA officer