Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly Approves Pastors to Perform Same-Sex “Marriage”

Greg Strand – June 26, 2014 2 Comments

Though this is not a surprise at all, it now becomes official: Presbyterians vote to allow gay marriage by whopping 3-1 ratio. “The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted Thursday (June 19) to allow gay and lesbian weddings within the church, making it among the largest Christian denominations to take an embracing step toward same-sex marriage.”

The General Assembly of the PCUSA (1.8 million members) approved by a 76-24 percent vote to allow pastors to perform same-sex “marriages” in states where they are legal. This required another change regarding the biblical meaning of marriage so they edited their Book of Order, that which governs the conduct of their pastors, so that the reference to “a man and woman” now reads “two persons.”

This will not become “church law” until a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries vote to affirm the new language, but given that the vote was 3-1 it will likely be approved.

Lauren Markoe, writing in the Religion News Service, notes that this decision is reflective of the broader culture, but it also reflects accommodation to the culture, a shift most Evangelical churches resist.

The General Assembly’s vote reflects change in the nation, where in rapid succession during the past year, judges have struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. And a steady stream of opinion polls shows Americans’ approval of gay marriage has risen dramatically in the past few years, to around 55 percent today.

But even against this backdrop, the General Assembly’s vote stands out as a church adapting its policy to fit a rapidly shifting culture even as most other Christian denominations have resisted.

The nation’s largest churches — Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Mormon, United Methodist and most evangelical churches — recognize marriage only as between a man and a woman, though many Methodists are pushing for a change. The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ all allow same-sex marriage.

Christianity Today also reported on this decision and base the strong approval for this shift on the “conservative exodus.”

This is one of the defining, watershed moral issues of the day. All churches and every denomination will have to make a decision about “what stands written,” and  to the question “Did God say?” it is not a time to capitulate or accommodate or remain silent but to proclaim with convictional kindness, “Thus says the Lord!”

On this moral matter, there is no middle ground.

 

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly Approves Pastors to Perform Same-Sex “Marriage”

  1. Greg, I can relate on the issue of having to stand for the truth on this issue with kindness. Its not popular thing at all. And when I do it as someone who is celibate with same-sex attraction it opens up a whole can of worms.

    It’s been hard to endure attacks from the opposing side calling me a “traitor” and what not no matter how lovingly you say it.

    But your post was really reflective on the fact most Evangelical Churches still stand for the traditional definition and sexual expression and that there’s a need to be be clear about that.

    I also grieve (but I’m not surprised) over PCUSA’s decision. But it seems almost all the Mainline Churches have gone down this road (except the UMC and RCA).

    • Thank you for your reply, Michael. Interestingly, the RCA has made decisions and moves that has led some Evangelicals to be very concerned. In fact, as reported earlier, “On April 27, 2014, University Reformed Church (URC) voted 282-9 in favor of leaving the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and affiliating with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).” This is the church where Kevin DeYoung serves as the sr. pastor. Regarding the United Methodist Church (UMC), their General Conference is next year and there are things happening that look like this denomination will divide as well. “A Way Forward for a United Methodist Church” is a document put forth by some who attempt to present a middle way, an attempt to agree to disagree. This moral issue does not allow that. There is no middle way on this moral matter.

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