OSJ (UK) Orthodoxy
OSJ (UK) takes a very pragmatic view of the bible but its content remains the unchangeable and eternal word of God and it is given for our edification, instruction and guidance. We apply it, not because we have to, or out of a sense of duty, but because we simply love God and put our trust in Him. To quote Cardinal Newman, 'He knows what He is about.' Of this we have no doubt.
Not everything in the bible is 'written in stone' and we are actually given quite an amount of free choice as to how we live out our faith. In these circumstances it is up to the individual to decide what is good and acceptable in their relationship with God and those whose lives they are a part of. These are matters of free will.
However, there are some things in the bible we don't get a choice with. These things are non-negotiable and the bible makes those things quite clear. They can't simply be dismissed because we don't agree with them. The bible is either God’s word or it isn’t. If it isn't then what is the point of being a Christian.
The non-negotiable parts of the bible will not always be popular (they rarely are!) and will inevitably cause conflict and be quite divisive, even within the greater Christian community. The fact is how we handle these things come with consequences and responsibilities, and our choices not only affect us but they affect the lives of others, possibly for generations to come. If we get things wrong, we may not be able to undo them, so what we do and how we respond really does matter.
As far as OSJ (UK) understands, there are a number of biblical principles believed to be non-negotiable and therefore they are not a matter of personal choice but a matter of spiritual discipline and submission to the authority of God. These things may be a very troublesome and difficult test of our faith and trust in God, but appropriate and considered responses are required.
Some of the current and most pressing issues OSJ (UK) is facing are listed below but the list is by no means complete, or exclusive to OSJ (UK). Many churches and Christian communities are struggling with these things too as they try to understand God's word and His purposes in a world that seems to be changing so very quickly.
We accept the bible as God's word and, as a matter of spiritual discipline and submission to the authority of God, we observe and uphold the following:-
1. Marriage is intended for the life of both partners, is between one man and one woman (each as defined physically at birth), and is intended for the procreation of children and mutual comfort.
2. Marriage is intended to be 'exclusive' once entered in to. This means that sexually and/or emotionally intimate relationships outside of marriage are scripturally not acceptable and should be considered as nothing less than abandonment of marriage vows and nothing less than 'adultery'. Once married, your problems should be resolved only within your marriage unless you seek competent professional assistance or advice from within your trusted family circle.
3. Marriage is a calling and sacrament, not a matter of temporary convenience, and children are a gift of God entrusted into the protective care and stewardship of both parents and the Christian community.
4. Gender is not a matter of personal choice and is binary ('male' or 'female') in human kind.
5. Marriage, or anything described as 'marriage', between those of the same sex (as defined by birth, self-determination or by other choice or process) is contrary to scripture.
6. Sexually or physically intimate relationships outside of marriage between same sex couples (as defined above) are contrary to scripture.
7. Sexually or physically intimate relationships outside of marriage, regardless of gender, are contrary to Holy Scripture.
8. Adultery is the only scriptural reason for terminating a marriage and should be a last resort, all attempts at reconciliation having failed.
9. The deliberate termination of life (e.g. abortion, euthanasia, etc.) is contrary to scripture.
10. The ordination of women as priests (and/or consecration as bishops) is also contrary to scriptural principle. This does not deny though, that all people have some kind of God given ministry that is to be supported and encouraged once recognised,
11. as is the good and proper stewardship of all spiritual, material and practical gifts and resources for the benefit of all the communities we serve.
12. This also includes global stewardship of the Earth, the Church, the greater world community, marriage and the family.
There are no easy responses as each has different and lasting consequences.
For those who understandably may find these too difficult to accept, there are plenty of churches and Christian communities who express their faith much more liberally and are much more accepting of less ‘orthodox’ lifestyle trends.
As regards being a Christian, membership of OSJ (UK) is not obligatory or compulsory - it is just one of many expressions of the Christian faith you can choose from. We know we are very conservative in some respects, and our way of doing things doesn't suit everyone. It is up to you to choose what in God is best for you.
We respect the concept of ‘free will’ as a God given gift to all of humanity, and we respect the right of people to make their own choices and decisions about all manner of things (even if we might disagree with them).
That does not however preclude a continuing dialogue as we work towards a true understanding of what is right and good in God's eyes. It would take an unbelievable kind of arrogance to say we (or you, or anyone else,) had all the answers.
So, we respect your choices and viewpoints, and hope in return that you respect ours, even if there is no common ground.
Ultimately we are all on the same journey of discovery and faith, and whilst our destinations may be the same by intention, the reality is our paths may be quite different and have very different outcomes and consequences, not just for us but for others too.
It is up to all of us to choose well and take full responsibility for our choices and decisions for we will be called to account. That is certain.
Images from St Leonard's Chapel, Hazlewood Castle, North Yorkshire,