The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) & the LGBT Community
2000 to now: Statements on homosexuality:
Statements on homosexuality:
2000-JUN:PCA press release on homosexuality: The Office of the Stated Clerk issued a press release prior to the
denomination's year 2000 General Assembly. Under a heading "Some positions of
the Presbyterian Church in America" they wrote:
"The PCA is committed to the sanctity of human sexual relationships.
We believe God's intent in creation was that male and female would be
complementary, that the privilege of sexual expression would be between male and
female only, and this expression would be only in the context of marriage. Both
heterosexual and homosexual sexual behavior outside of marriage violates the
human spirit and distorts God's intent for men and women." 1
2000-Summer: Neo-Confederates attempt split of PCA: According
to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Rev. Steven J. Wilkins, is the
"pastor of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, La., and a
founder and current board member of the neo-Confederate" League of
the South (LOS). The LOS allegedly attempted to take control of
conservative churches in the Southern US -- an act that could lead to a
schism within the PCA. Wilkins promotes Christian
Reconstructionism (a.k.a. Dominion Theology and Theonomy). This is an extreme, radical Fundamentalist
Christian belief system that arose out of conservative Presbyterianism in
the early 1970's. They advocate that the U.S. adopt the Mosaic law of the Hebrew
Scriptures (Old Testament). They are attempting to convert the United
States into a theocracy, similar to Afghanistan before the Taliban were
overthrown. Leaders of the Reconstructionist movement advocate that the:
penalty be used to punish those guilty of 'apostasy (abandonment of the
faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft,
astrology, adultery, 'sodomy or homosexuality,'
incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and in the
case of women, 'unchastity before marriage.' Non-capital crimes
would be sanctioned with whipping, indentured servitude or slavery."
Wilkins has allegedly said that
the League's goal is to save America from "paganism" and
restore it as "the last bastion of Christendom" (It is not clear to
which of the many different meanings of "Paganism" he is referring.) He has allegedly stated that slavery is "perfectly
legitimate." Wilkins had tried to remake the PCA, but allegedly
told Christian Renewal in 2000-APR that "the denomination is
unreformable." In 2000-AUG, he sponsored a meeting involving 10
churches of the Louisiana Presbytery. They discussed leaving the PCA. The
Rev. Kennedy Smartt, moderator of the PCA‚s 1998 General Assembly, says
that the PCA could lose "25 to 30 churches" pastored by men with "theonomic
2001-JUN:PCA comment on PC(USA) resolution: The General Assembly of the
larger and more liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) had
just passed a resolution which would allow gays and lesbians to be considered
for ordination. The resolution was later rejected by a majority of
presbyteries. The PCA's news officer, Dominic Aquila,
is reported as saying:
"Our concern is for the integrity of Scripture,
which clearly gives us guidance for every area of life, including the family
and chastity. We believe God has ordained that sexual relationships should be
between one man and one woman in the context of marriage, and that neither
heterosexual relations outside of marriage, or homosexual relations, are
appropriate....We're concerned that one branch of the church would take a
position that gives endorsement appearing to be contrary to Scripture."
At the PCA's own General Assembly, about 1,500 delegates were expected to
recommit the PCA:
"... to the sanctity of human sexual relationships. It
believes God's intent in creation is that male and female are complementary,
that the privilege of sexual expression is to be between male and female only,
and this expression is to be exclusive in the context of marriage." 3,4
2003-JUN: PCA supports exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage: According to theAmerican Family Association Journal:
their General Assembly in June 2003, the PCA used that WCF language in a
resolution to reaffirm the denomination‚s strong stand for a Biblical view
Evangelical Christian groups use terms like "biblical
view of marriage" and "traditional marriage" to refer to unions
restricted to one man and one woman; i.e. excluding same-sex couples. 5
2003-OCT: A message from the the Louisiana Presbytery: The Presbytery unanimously passed
a resolution: denouncing:
"... on churches to proclaim God‚s displeasure regarding sexual sin, to
lovingly and truthfully reach out with the Gospel to those enslaved in
these sins and to model God‚s glorious design for marriage. 6
2009: When the PCA receives a media request for the denomination's position on homosexuality, their standard response is:
"Homosexual practice is sin. The Bible teaches that all particular sins flow from our rebellious disposition of heart. Just as with any other sin, the PCA deals with people in a pastoral way, seeking to transform their lifestyle through the power of the gospel as applied by the Holy Spirit. Hence, in condemning homosexual practice we claim no self-righteousness, but recognize that any and all sin is equally heinous in the sight of a holy God.
The PCA is committed to the sanctity of human sexual relationships.¬ We believe God‚s intent and design in creation was that male and female would be complementary, that the privilege of sexual expression would be between a male and female only, and this expression would be only in the context of marriage.¬ Therefore, any heterosexual or homosexual behavior or relationship that does not conform to God‚s design does violence to the human spirit and distorts God‚s intent for men and women." 7
2011-JUL: In response to a decision by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to remove their "fidelity and chastity" requirement for ordination, L. Roy Taylor, the
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) wrote the following report to clarify the differences between the two Presbyterian denominations:
"The PCA requires that all candidates for ordained office practice what we believe God requires of all
persons; that is, that single persons are to live chaste lives, that 'marriage is to be between one man and
one woman,' and that fidelity in marriage is God‚s will revealed in Holy Scriptures. The PCA has not
changed nor is it considering any changes in its requirements for ordination."
"The PCA and the PC(USA) are distinctly different denominations. Like most Presbyterian
denominations in North America, the PCA and PC(USA) have common historical roots dating back to
Colonial America. The history of Presbyterianism in America involves a series of divisions and mergers
arising from several issues. What is now the PCA was formed in 1973 in order to be a Presbyterian
denomination that is 'Faithful to the Scriptures, True to the Reformed Faith, and Obedient to the Great
Commission.' In 1982 the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod joined with the PCA."
"Although there are theological differences within PCA, these differences are along a conservative-
evangelical spectrum and within the doctrinal parameters of The Westminster Confession, and the Larger
and Shorter Catechisms. All PCA Teaching Elders (Ministers), Ruling Elders, and Deacons, affirm in
their ordination vows that they 'sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of
this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scriptures.' The Westminster Confession
of Faith 24-1, The Larger Catechism 137-139, and The Shorter Catechism 70-72 explain our Church‚s
understanding regarding marriage, particularly in reference to the Seventh Commandment, 'You shall not
commit adultery.' For additional information follow this link: http://pcaac.org/WCF.htm."
The above links provided by the Stated Clerk contain PCA statements that date from 1965 to 1999. Apparently, there has been no significant movement by the denomination during the 21st century.
What does the PCA membership itself think about lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGBs)?
We have been unsuccessful in finding public opinion polls taken among the membership of the PCA about membership, ordination, and marriage ceremonies for LGBs. The closest poll that we could locate is part of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey taken during mid-2007 and published in 2008-JUN by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 9 They sampled 35,556 persons who were asked to select one of two scenarios:
"Homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society."
"Homosexuality is a way of life that should be discouraged by society."
The questions are unusual because:
Many persons consider homosexuality to be a sexual orientation and not a "way of life."
Most LGBs, religious liberals, secularists, human sexality researchers, therapists, etc. believe that a homosexual orientation is discovered by an individual rather than being chosen. Most believe that it is unchangeable -- or essentially so -- in adulthood.
If these beliefs are accurate, then trying to get society to either accept or discourage homosexuality would be like trying to encourage or discourage red hair or left-handedness.
The PCA members agreed within one percentage point of the responses from members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Seventh-day Adventist denominations. Members of the larger and more liberal Presbyterian denomination: the Presbyterian Church, USA responded within two percentage points of the total number sampled.
During the interval between mid-2007 when the sample was taken and the present time, more recent national polls show that support for marriage equality for LGBs has increased about 1 to 2 percentage points a year, as the opposition has dropped by a similar amount. Change among fundamentalist and other evangelical denominations has been much slower. Recent polls might give a good indication of public attitudes towards LGBs.