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The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) & the LGBT Community

1977 to 1999: Past statements on homosexuality:

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Statements on homosexuality:

bullet 1997: PCA statement on homosexuality: The PCA approved a resolution at their General Assembly, declaring that "both the act and the desire" of homosexuality is a sin and that "a practicing homosexual continuing in this sin would not be a fit candidate for ordination or membership in the PCA." That is, all persons who have a homosexual or bisexual orientation are in a state of sin, even if they remain celibate. Further, such individuals who are sexually active are not able to join the PCA as a member, or be ordained as elders or ministers, or hold any position of authority within the denomination. They would be rejected even if their sexual activity were confined to a loving committed relationship with one other person of the same sex. 1

bullet 1980: Report of the Study Committee on Homosexuality: This report was accepted by the 158th General Synod. Some points raised by the report:
bullet Romans 1:28-32 is a particularly important biblical guideline for the church.

bullet Some gays and lesbians falsely justify their same-sex behavior by using psychology, sociology, and situation ethics.

bullet "Significant and beautiful" relationships between same-sex persons can exist. But the Bible rejects as "unnatural" any which include sexual activity.

bullet Same-sex behavior is only one of many sins cited in the Bible.

bullet Healing from homosexual sin may be only partial. It may proceed slowly.

bullet Some congregations have reacted to homosexuals from a position of fear and a lack of compassion.

bullet It is important that the church not create an environment in which the homosexual finds it difficult to reveal his condition to fellow Christians.

bullet Practicing homosexuals are unable to enter the deepest form of human relationship -- that between a man and a woman.

bullet Celibate homosexuals should not be automatically excluded from church office. Decisions must be made on an individual basis by the session and/or presbytery.

bullet Christians may take different approaches in response to attempts by the homosexual community to attain political and legal rights.
bullet Some Christians may avoid involvement in order to not adversely affect their outreaches to the homosexual community.

bullet Other Christians may wish to become politically involved by working to maintain existing legislation and to pass new laws which legislate against homosexuality. If this path is chosen, Christians must take a balanced approach by also attempting to impose biblical morality in other evils in society, like divorce, child abuse, wife abuse, etc. 2
bullet 1993: PCA statement on homosexuals in military service: The PCA issued a  "Declaration of Conscience on Homosexuals and the Military" which affirmed their 1997 resolution. 1

bullet 1996: General Assembly activities:
bullet "Statement to Episcopal Church for Ordination of Homosexuals" The PCA's Presbytery of New Jersey approved a statement directed to the Episcopal Church, USA. They noted that an Episcopal court had not found "core doctrine" which would exclude a sexually active homosexual candidate for ordination if he or she was involved in a monogamous, committed same-sex relationship. The Presbytery regarded this position as anti-scriptural and in conflict with historical Christianity. It brings"shame" on the Church. They expressed the hope that the Episcopal church would change their policy to prohibit such ordinations in the future. The Presbytery asked the PCA's General Assembly to consider sending such a statement to the Episcopal Church. The Assembly declined, stating as grounds:

1. The PCA is not "in ecclesiastical relationship with the Episcopal Church in the US.

2. The PCA has already made its "...position against the evils of sodomy and other sexual perversion" clear.

3. The homosexual issue is the topic of other resolutions at the General Assembly.

4. It would not be feasible for the PCA to communicate with every other denomination about each deviation from historical Christianity."

5. Some within the Episcopal Church are already raising a "prophetic voice....against this sin."

bullet

Personal Resolution #7 by RE Tom Leopard titled "Oppose Legalization of Homosexual Marriages" was answered by reference to previous actions of the General Assembly and by a statement that includes a curse on American society:

"We affirm the Bible's teaching that promotion of homosexual conduct and relationships by any society, including action by the governments to sanction and legitimize homosexual relationships by the legalization of homosexual marriages, is an abominable sin calling for God's judgment upon any such society. We also reaffirm our belief in the transforming power of God's grace and our commitment to 'speaking the truth in love' to those in the homosexual community."


bullet

Personal Resolution #6 by RE Tom Leopard titled "Oppose Disney's Promotion of Homosexual Lifestyle" be answered by reference to a previous action by the Assembly and by the following statement:

"We abhor what Disney and other corporations do to promote the homosexual lifestyle."

This appears to be a reference to Disney and other companies extending health care and other family benefits to the partners of homosexual employees and their children. 3,4

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bullet

1997-AUG-15: PCA and Disney: Stated Clerk Paul R. Gilchrist of the PCA sent a letter to all PCA pastors and elders. It said, in part:

"It has become clear that the Disney Corporation is on a deliberate course of promoting the homosexual agenda and marginalizing the evangelical and conservative church and making them seem irrelevant to our culture." 5


bullet

1997? PCA and human rights law: Several states have enacted anti-discrimination laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Unlike similar laws in other states, the New Jersey legislation did not specifically exempt religious groups from the scope of the law. Thus, religious institutions in that state are not free to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or any other basis that they see fit. The PCA initiated a lawsuit, attempting to have the New Jersey law declared unconstitutional.

"The suit was dismissed on grounds that it was premature in that no action had been brought against the Presbyterian Church in America under this law and that the Attorney General had stated for the record that he had no intention of enforcing the law where the employer is a church." 6


bullet

1999-AUG: Criticism of PCA by the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC): The BPC passed Resolution 63:3 at their 63rd General Synod. It criticizes "Cordial Relations Between Presbyterian Church in America and Presbyterian Church (USA)." In the resolution, the BPC noted that the Stated Clerks -- the chief administrators -- of the PCA and PCUSA had met and had stated that relations between the two denominations "remain cordial." The BPC resolution stated that:

"the PCUSA is apostate, having a large section of the church pushing for the ordination of homosexual clergy and elders, worshippers of the goddess Sophia, a publicly pro-abortion stance, and a new catechism which affacks [sic] the central Christian teaching that salvation is possible through Jesus Christ alone."

Quoting the Bible, the BPC called upon the PCA:

"to 'have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but, rather reprove them' (Ephesians 5:11), and to 'come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing' (2 Corinthians 6:17)." 7


bullet

1999-APR: Westminster Presbytery adopted Overture 22: The Presbytery adopted an overture titled: "Warning Regarding Homosexual Agenda." After citing a number of anti-homosexual "clobber" verses in the Bible, the overture stated, in part:

"Whereas, the Gay and Lesbian Community has sought and obtained inroads into public and private education, Therefore Be it Resolved, that the Presbyterian Church in America requests the churches in this denomination to inform and warn the members of their congregations of dangers of the homosexual agenda in the schools. Be it further resolved, that the congregations be informed of the possible use of the video, 'It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School,' and that this video will possibly be aired on Public Television in June 1999. Also, Be it Resolved, that the Presbyterian Church in America is committed to biblical standards and urges its congregations to apply those standards in appropriate fashion."


bullet 1999-AUG: PCA General Assembly overtures and resolutions:
bullet Statement on homosexuality and youth: Commissioners (delegates) to the PCA's 1999 General Assembly approved a statement that expressed concern about the "threat that sexual perversion generally, and homosexuality in particular" posed to American youth. It urged its congregations to study the Bible, to pray that God will cure homosexuals, and to speak and act on behalf of the children in the church. 8

bullet Statement on execution of homosexuals, firing of gay teachers, and other topics:  The PCA General Assembly passed Overture # 11, which stated in part:

bullet "Whereas, God has plainly spoken of homosexuality in his Word, denouncing both the act and the desire as sin, condemning this perversion as unnatural, a degrading passion, an indecent act, an error, an abomination, and hence worthy of death; and

bullet Whereas, we recognize, that God's righteous judgment is upon those who approve of such detestable acts, as well as those who practice them; and Moreover,

bullet whereas God has clearly stated that the condoning of homosexuals along with murderers, immoral men, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and all other unrighteousness is contrary to sound teaching,

bullet Therefore, be it resolved that the General Assembly encourage Christians to recognize their responsibility to petition the powers that be such men and women who practice, approve, or condone any of these activities not be invested with the authority to teach in schools or be in a position where they can influence our nation, which professes 'In God we trust'." 19
bullet Statement on the rejection of homosexual members & clergy: The Assembly passed Resolution #7 to: "affirm the Biblical position for our denomination" They stated that:
  1. All homosexual activity is sinful.
  2. Congregations should actively help homosexuals to seek a cure.
  3. All non-celibate homosexuals must be excluded from membership and ordination. 9

One important factor is that the resolution only condemned homosexual acts, not simply having an homosexual orientation.

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References:

  1. David Kyle Foster, "The Summer of Our Discontent: The Church Fights Back in the Culture War on Homosexuality," Mastering Life Ministries, at: http://www.gospelcom.net/mlm/summer.html
  2. "Report of the study committee on homosexuality," 158th GS MINUTES, 1980-JUL-04, at: http://www.pcanet.org/
  3. "PCA Digest: Assembly Actions: 1973 - 1998," at: http://www.pcanet.org/
  4. "24th general assembly 1996," Presbytgerian News, at:  http://www.presbyteriannews.org/
  5. Art Toalston, "Boycott May Be Taking Its Toll," 1997-AUG-19, Southern Baptist Convention, at: http://www.erlc.com/Culture/Disney/
  6. "Double Exposure," Layman Online, 1997-SEP/OCT, at: http://www.layman.org/layman/the-layman/
  7. "Bible Presbyterian Church: Resolution 63:3," at: http://www.bpc.org/synod/resolutions/063_03.htm
  8. "Presbyterian Church in America takes stand on homosexuality," Layman Online, 1999-AUG-15, at: http://www.layman.org/layman/news/
  9. "PCA Position Papers: 1999 Resolution regarding the homosexual agenda," at: http://www.pcanet.org/

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Copyright © 2002 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update 2012-NOV-04
Author: B.A. Robinson
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