The Presbyterian Church (USA) & lesbian/gay/bisexual ordination:
Activities during 2011
Part 3: Reactions, mostly laity, to the presbyeries'
approval of the Book of Order (BOO) change.
This is a continuation from Part 2
Reactions, mostly by the Presbyterian laity:
On 2011-MAY-10, the resolution passed by the 2010 General Assembly was ratified by a majority by a majority of presbyteries. The resolution changed § G-6.0106b in the church’s Book of Order which defines who may be ordained to leadership positions (deacon, elder, and minister) in the Presbyterian Church. It will permits governing bodies to consider lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in committed relationships for ordination when the new section goes into effect on 2011-JUL-10.
Also on MAY-11, four leaders of the denomination issued a letter explaining the changes to the church as a whole. They noted that:
"Reactions to this change will span a wide spectrum. Some will rejoice, while others will weep. Those who rejoice will see the change as an action, long in coming, that makes the PC(USA) an inclusive church that recognizes and receives the gifts for ministry of all those who feel called to ordained office. Those who weep will consider this change one that compromises biblical authority and acquiesces to present culture. The feelings on both sides run deep." 1
The denomination should be commended for allowing members of the denomination to freely post their comments. Within a few hours, 75 comments on the article had been posted. Few were neutral in tone. Some were quite joyous; others were quite displeased at the change.
There is a common theme running through many of the negative postings is that the Bible's six or seven often cited "clobber" passages all strongly condemn same-gender sexual behavior. They seem to reject the possibility that any ambiguity may exist in the passages, or that any of the translations from Hebrew or Greek into English may be defective. They are either unaware of other interpretations of these same passages, or they have studied them and rejected them as invalid.
We arbitrarily selected every 5th posting to show here:
- Sarah: "I'm excited to hear this news. I know that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that I attend would not be as strong as it is without the members including some members who are homosexual. As Christians, we need to love everyone, we ALL sin and we ALL are forgiven if we accept God's grace."
- Douglas: "It is a sad day for the church of Jesus Christ. We are all sinners including me and need mercy and forgiveness. Essentially what the PCUSA is now saying is this [same-gender sexual] behavior is not a sin and it condones this behavior. As an ordained PCUSA minister, I really want to leave this denomination -- it is no longer a model I want to follow. Some think this will bring in more members but it will not -- it is a dying denomination. I predict that in the next year, there will be the largest exodus of members ever in the PCUSA."
- Wade: "I grew up in a Presbyterian Church, I also have a brother who is gay. Over the years he has been turned away from Christianity because of these types of issues in the church. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality. But how can we expect one to return to the will of God if they are afraid to even go to a worship service due to constant ridicule, funny looks and comments about the lifestyle they have chosen. I have faith he will one day return to Christ Jesus, I respect this decision."
- Lisa: "I don't understand why people are being so hateful. I understand that this decision is going to be difficult for a lot of people to deal with in a lot of different ways. But as Presbyterians, this is how we make decisions -- as a body. We believe that, as a body, we are led by the Holy Spirit. I'm sorry that this decision has caused so much contention and strife, but we are ALL still children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ. Do we need to become vicious and hateful with one another?"
- James: "I truly do not understand how this can be biblically justified. I always thought it was a sad day when the Presbyterian Church, US merged with USA and this makes it more evident."
- Meredith: "To those who are concerned about PCUSA members flooding out of the church, just think of the number of people who will now flock to PCUSA churches with the knowledge that they will be welcomed into a loving denomination."
- April: "Finally, we are an inclusive church offering full membership instead of conditional hospitality."
- Megan: "It is sad that this is so upsetting to so many folks. I mourn the schism in this church. I also find it odd that so many read this amendment as being completely permissive or instructive for presbyteries and sessions to ordain openly gay or lesbian people. After all, wasn't the language present in the BOO prior to 1996 when 'amendment B' went in more like this new language? Hasn't it always been the case that the church at large leaves the judgment up to the presbyteries? Therefore, before [§] 60106B, [gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals] (GLBT) folks were still being ordained or not dependent upon the discretion of their presbytery. Oddly, I agree with Justin: this new amendment could be interpreted by Presbyteries and Sessions that homosexuality is not following the Lordship of Christ, standards of the confessions or Biblical authority. There is much room for interpretation here.
- Sarah: "Being the 3rd generation of a Minister and Founder of the Presbyterian Church overseas, and learning about this has been incredible. I know that my grandfather, a vertical pastor would NEVER in his life would have accepted this inside his Church. Definitely, this IS NOT the Church where my kids will be raised. This is just the FIRST step of disobedience against the scripture: A NEVER CHANGING word of God. If the Church accepts this WRONG VALUE, soon we would have to accept gay marriages inside our own Church and pastors would be required to marry gay couples using the same Bible that establishes this behavior as a SIN."
- Charles: "when will the vote be taken to repeal the words in the book of order that the Word is our final authority?"
- Christopher: "We as Presbyterians have throughout our history as a denomination been proud of our "Biblically" based heritage. I cannot agree that this amendment adheres to the Bible. The one true guide to our beliefs is being usurped for the sake of modern pressures. I will continue to love all brothers and sisters in Christ; however, I am hurt that that my Church would consider the ordination of those living in sin as commensurate with the Lord's teachings. I only hope that the Holy Spirit will actively guide us through this difficult and self-imposed path. Sola Scriptura!"
- Crellis: "I don't see how the language of 'Submitting joyfully' to Christ's Lordship makes it okay to ordain a gay minister. As much as I love my gay brothers and sister in Christ, I just can't see how this is beneficial. I'm not leaving the church over it, for sure, but I find it troubling that we have essentially disregarded entire sections of the Bible to make this happen... Think on it: If it were any other sexual impropriety, it would be a problem. If ANY minister had an extra-marital affair, unrepentantly partook of flagrant premarital sex, or embraced any other sin ads a lifestyle (gambling addiction, alcoholism, etc.), he or she would be ineligible. If ALL sin is equal, why is this one suddenly not such a big deal? "
- Anette: "Today is a sad day indeed. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted not to use the bible as the foundation of their religion. I believe in the following passage from www.bible.org where Lehman Strauss explains the Christian perspective on homosexuality.
'Then there is homosexuality which likewise is condemned in Scripture. The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that homosexuality "shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9; 10). Homosexuality is an illicit lust forbidden by God. He said to His people Israel, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13). In these passages homosexuality is condemned as a prime example of sin, a sexual perversion. The Christian can neither alter God's viewpoint nor depart from it.'
My heart breaks over this decision, PCUSA has made their decision now I'll make mine."
- Paul: "I believe Jesus is among those who weep."
- Anon: "Paul, I believe Jesus weeps for the hate shown with His name on it.. No matter which side you stand on, will our generation be remembered for a vicious battle against sexual immorality, while thousands upon thousands die of preventable causes every day? Is that really what God is asking of us as followers? and to those leaving the Presbyterian Church, you have no place to talk if you're not in it for the long- run. No one is asking that you compromise on your beliefs, but imagine the healing and restoration that would take place if instead of running- you stuck it out? We are not defined by our sin, why should they be? "
- Susan: "I'm proud to be a Presbyterian today!" 1
This topic is continued in Part 4
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Gradye Parsons, et al., "Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approves change in ordination standard. 'Submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ' replaces 'fidelity and chastity',"
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2011-MAY-10, at: http://www.pcusa.org/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2011-OCT-15
Author: B.A. Robinson