About the Presbyterian Church (USA) & homosexuality
Statements about homosexuality: 2000 to now.
"Involvement in the issues of our day and church, including
meeting with those with whom we disagree, has never been, nor is it now,
about our way, or their way, or some other third way which might be mutually
satisfying. Rather it is about Christ's way. Alone. Therefore, we have not,
and we will not, engage in any search for an alternative to Scripture's
clear and plain teaching." 3
The last agreement, in essence, is a
form of a local option, allowing bodies in different areas of the
country to ordain candidates who are involved in same-sex committed
They did note in Section IV that:
"Recent debates about sexuality, ordination, Christology, and other controversial topics have been especially contentious, but the dilemma these issues pose is not unique. Most of the debates that have threatened to break the church apart in the past have followed a similar pattern:
- A range of possible positions exist on the issue at hand, but pressure to make decisions, especially about eligibility for church office, forces the choice into a binary format that divides governing bodies into two parties.
- Each party, often substantial in size, struggles long and hard for control of the policy of the whole church. The result is a church both preoccupied with and weary of conflict." 4
2012-OCT: Poll of PCUSA members and pastors shows increasing support for same-sex marriage (SSM):
This essay primarily deals with church statements, not polls. However, perhaps a poll of the beliefs of the PCUSA membership and clergy can be considered to be a type of church statement.
A poll conducted in 2012 by Presbyterian Research Services showed that changing the Church's definition of marriage from "a man and a woman" to "two people" was supported by:
34% of the membership; an increase from 23% in 2005.
- 49% of the clergy; an increase from 35% in 2005. 5
Support for SSM is increasing by 1.6 percentage points per year for the general membership, and 2.0 percentage points per year for the clergy. These rates of increase are similar to that shown by national surveys of American adults. However, support by the general membership lags national figures by more than 20 percentage points.
These data compare to the 48% support by delegates to the denomination's 220th General Assembly that was held during 2012-Summer. They narrowly voted to reject a motion to change the Church's definition of marriage. Support by the Assembly delegates appears to match that of their clergy. However, the delegates are much more progressive than the general membership.
Perhaps the most meaningful prediction of future support is a comment by Jack Marcum, who is coordinator of Research Services at Presbyterian Mission Agency. He said:
"This result indicates a broad-based shift in opinions across the church in only a few years. Longer term, the effect of generational change will be felt: 75 percent of young adult advisory delegates at the General Assembly supported the redefinition of marriage."
"Hence, the next effort to change the marriage definition might well succeed. Indeed, it's possible that this year's effort would have succeeded, save for arguments that such a radical redefinition was too much change in the denomination, too soon."
Dr. Paul E. Detterman is the executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal -- a conservative group within the denomination. He said:
"There is a substantial number of conservative individuals and congregations ... who have disengaged from these debates within the PC(USA) or who are now in the process of departure [from the denomination].
This survey is probably quite accurate in reflecting the views of people responding in the PC(USA) in 2005 and people responding in the PC(USA) in 2012. As different from the U.S. demographic analysis, however, these are not people who have changed their views. These are simply not the same people.
Sadly, I am confident that every effort will be made by the proponents of this change to see to it that 'marriage' is re-defined in the PC(USA)'s constitution at the next General Assembly [in 2014].
The great deception is that this change in the church's core theological identity is an act of love and acceptance toward the LGBT community. Ultimately, and at many levels, nothing could be further from the truth." 5
He did not elaborate in the Christian Post article on how making the definition of marriage more inclusive would be an act of hatred and rejection.
Some members of the PC(USA) appear to have switched membership to the Presbyterian Church in America, a conservative Christian denomination which broke away from the PC(USA) decades ago during the battle which led to female ordination.
Webmaster's note: I wonder if future decades will see the denomination tackle acceptance of transgender persons and transsexuals, and cause more members to transfer to the Presbyterian Church in America, or other conservative denomination.
- "113 Presbytery executives call for a way out of sexuality debates,"
PCUSA News, 2000-DEC-21. It is available online at: http://www.covenantnetwork.org/
- "Covenant Network welcomes Executive Presbyters' call to the
church," at: http://www.covenantnetwork.org/
- Jerry L. Van Marter, "Vote on same-sex union amendment will be
close, early returns indicate. Presbytery executives' 'third way'
proposal gets mixed reaction," 2001-JAN-23, at:
- "A Season of Discernment: The Final Report of the Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church," http://apps.pcusa.org/
- Michael Gryboski, "Poll: PCUSA Members Increasingly Favoring Same-Sex Marriage," Christian Post, 2012-OCT-04, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
Copyright © 1996 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update 2012-OCT-14
Author: B.A. Robinson