The section dealing with sex, Part II, Section A, 4-d, is much more subtle than the one we have just considered on poverty. Plain speaking at this point would not be too acceptable to many sensitive Presbyterians. After all, Presbyterians have been Calvinistic, Puritan, and Victorian. Consequently, we have here a type of generalized statement which is capable of several different meanings, depending upon the eyes of the one reading.

The command, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” which is expounded in detail in the Larger Catechism, is now completely eliminated from the Book of Confessions; at no time is it recognized nor its position here maintained.

There is the opening reference to “the interpersonal life for which he [God] created mankind,” but nowhere is it forbidden that this interpersonal life could not and might not express itself in premarital sex relations under what is presently being advocated in church circles as situation ethics. Indeed, those who believe in situation ethics can find in the phraseology of this section just what they need to support their new morality. What is called “anarchy in sexual relationships” is outside the present discussion, for by their rationalizing they are under the benediction of their situation ethics.

“The church, as the household of God, is called to lead men out of this alienation into the responsible freedom of the new life in Christ. Reconciled to God, each person has joy in and respect for his own humanity and in other persons . . . .” This then continues with the words, “A man and woman are enabled to marry,” but-and this is where all the confusion abounds-is this marriage after or before they have come together in the intimate relationships reserved under the commandments of God only for the marriage bond? Just as men used words with dual meanings to confuse the teaching of the Bible concerning the resurrection and the incarnation, so we have the same strategy employed in the matter of sex relations.

In an hour when the church is to give guidance, such guidance should be clear, specific, unmistakable, and definite. In fact, it ought not to be the guidance of the church at all. It should be, “Thus saith the Lord,” and the position of the Lord has been summarized most emphatically in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, to which the church is no longer bound under solemn ordination vows.

Thus the door is open, wide open, for sin—sin in the church, in the families of the church, among the young people of the church.

And in the presence of such sin, we are now confronted with a most significant statement, “Or withholds the compassion of Christ from those caught in the moral confusion of our time.” Here “moral confusion” is understood subjectively, depending upon the way each person looks at the situation. Instead of the church looking upon adultery and fornication as sin, to be condemned and judged, we are offered the “compassion of Christ.” Yet, Christ’s compassion, according to Scripture, first requires confession and repentance. “The wages of sin is death.”

This entire paragraph is so phrased that it can satisfy almost anyone. Yet because of this designed dualism present in the terminology it cannot and should not satisfy earnest Christians who are honest in their handling of the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” God has so guarded and protected the home and the new life which He introduces into the world in each newborn babe, that He has made it sin to engage in sexual activities outside the marriage bond.

There is, interestingly enough, a sense in which this paragraph is appropriate within the Confession of 1967.

It does reflect the condition of the church as of the present moment, 1967. Instead of being an exposition of what the Bible teaches concerning the Seventh Commandment, the new confession bears evidence in itself of being a production of the sinful disposition of the church. It is a confession which is a reflection of the works of the flesh.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:1921). The Apostle Paul speaks of this also in 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” Earlier Paul said, “Know ye nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6: 9-11) . The current endeavor of the clergy in the United States and Great Britain to remove the legal sanctions against homosexuality also is covered in the new confession.

The remedy for such sin is not situation ethics or new morality; it is being washed and sanctified. This, of course, is the Gospel, the glorious Gospel of the grace of God. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). This, of course, is the fellowship which abides in the house of God. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The chief spokesman for situation ethics in the church world at large is Dr. Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopalian theologian from Cambridge, Massachusetts. A UPI story, April 16, 1966, in the Greensboro Daily News, had this heading, “Premarital Sex Upheld By Cleric,” and the report said:

“An Episcopal theologian said Thursday premarital sex relations between consenting, intelligent individuals should not be condemned.

“Dr. Joseph Fletcher also told a seminar on population policy at the University of North Carolina that colleges and universities should provide information on birth control and actual contraceptive care for those who request it…

“‘No sexual act between persons competent to give mutual consent should be prohibited, except when it involves either the seduction of minors or an offense against the public order,’ Fletcher said.”

This undermining of the family and morality by Dr. Fletcher, however, takes on an interesting significance in view of. the testimony of Herbert A. Philbrick, former FBI undercover agent, before the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives of the U. S. Congress, July 6, 1953. The record reads:

MR. KUNZIG. Mr. Philbrick, seeing as we are here in executive session, and this testimony being confidential, do you feel you could tell the committee the names of these ministers in the Boston area whom you, as you said, have a pretty good idea were the ones that you feel were the members of the Communist Party?…Then could you give us for the record in executive session here this afternoon these names to which you have referred?

MR. PHILBRICK. Yes, I could…The Reverend Joseph Fletcher, F-1-e-t-c-h-e-r, of the theological seminary, Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Mass., is another. Joe Fletcher worked with us on Communist arty projects and on enormous number of tasks.

MR. CLARDY. He is still there? MR. PHILBRICK. He is sir.

The relevance of all this to the life of the church in 1966 is seen in the book reviews in the June 15, 1966, issue of Presbyterian Life, headed, “On Sex in the Family.” Locke E. Bowman, Jr., Division of Lay Education, Board of Christian Education, made the analysis. He wrote:

Eleven authors have produced Sex, Family, and Society in Theological Focus…The first of two volumes on “responsible sexuality for the contemporary Christian,” it is edited and introduced by John Charles Wynn, Director of Studies, Colgate Rochester Divinity School…

This book and its anticipated companion are “designed for personal reading as well as for group study” by adults and youth. In addition to Dr. Wynn, the other writers are Harvey Cox (author of The Secular City); Pieter de Jong; James Gordon Emerson, Jr.; Roy W. “Fairchild; William H. Genre; Dr. and Mrs. Dale B. Harris; William Alvin Pitcher; Cynthia C. Wedel; and Gibson, Winter.

If the is any common theme in the nine major essays, an the study guide at the end, it is surely the idea that revolutionary changes have taken place in family life and sexual mores-changes resulting in conflicts and pressures for the individual, the family, and society as a whole.

The quotation from Harvey Cox gives away the whole case for the new morality of which he has been an advocate along with Bishop Robinson in his book, Honest to God. The review continues: Excerpts from Harvey Cox’s essay illustrate the earnest tone sustained throughout the book: “Perhaps one day we in America shall put away childish things. Perhaps one day we shall outgrow our ridiculous obsession with sex…Until that time, however, we should rejoice that in Jesus Christ we are freed from myth and from law. We are placed in a community of selves, free to the extent that we live for each other, free to develop whatever styles of life will contribute to the maturation of persons in a society where persons are often overlooked as we scamper to pursue profits and piety all at once.”

Joseph Fletcher’s book, Situation Ethics, the New Morality, applies all this also to the Marxists. He writes, “As Paul Ramsey has pointed out, with some distaste, my approach is both personalistic and contextual.” Writing of “contextual” he says, “Properly used, the word is applicable to any situation-sensitive decision-making, whether its ideology is theological or nontheological—e.g., either Christian or Marxist.”

The new confession will be used as a cover for lust and sin.