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Presbyterian Church (USA) approves same-sex marriage amendment

Hi resolution version of RNS-NJ-MARRIAGE102113a.jpg(Reuters) The Presbyterian Church (USA)  on Tuesday (March 17) approved a change in the wording of its constitution to include same-sex marriage, a move which threatens to further splinter one of the largest U.S. mainline Protestant denominations.

A majority of the 171 regional “presbyteries,” or local leadership bodies of the church, have now voted to change the wording of the constitution to define marriage as a commitment “between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”

That change in the Louisville, Ky.-based church’s constitution was recommended by its General Assembly last year and required a simple majority of 86 votes, achieved on Tuesday, the church said.

The new wording, which replaces “between a woman and a man,” takes effect June 21.

The church, also known as PCUSA, has more than 1.7 million members, but has lost more than 500,000 over the past decade. Some church leaders have expressed concern that endorsement of same-sex marriage could cause an exodus of parishioners who see it as incompatible with biblical teachings.

A gathering of elders and ministers of the church voted last June to allow clergy to perform same-sex weddings. The move gave clergy the choice of whether to preside over same-sex marriages in states where they are legal, but does not require them to do so.

“Let us pray that we can allow the Spirit to continue to create in us a common call to follow Christ while respecting each other’s convictions,” Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, said in a statement.

The Presbyterian Lay Committee, a conservative group, opposed the change in the definition.

“These are indeed difficult days for folks both within the PCUSA and other denominations that have made these same choices in the past,” said Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Lay Committee, in a conference call on Tuesday.

David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta, said that as with other denominations like the United Church of Christ that have changed policy on gay and lesbian issues, some congregants will be lost, but others will be gained.

“All across Christianity, we see the dominoes falling of abandoning the historic stigma and rejection of gay people and gay relationships,” Gushee said.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this year to take up the issue of whether states can ban gay marriage, which is now allowed in at least 36 states and the District of Columbia.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and Steve Bittenbender.)

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  • Are Presbyterians morons? Addressing the stigma of homosexuality and gay relationships has nothing to do with redefining marriage. They have cut their connection to Christianity by elevating a sinful act to a virtue. Tolerance is one thing, but speaking with forked tongues is quite another.

    Why don’t they remove the sin of adultery, of stealing, of greed and lust? Let the gays do as they please civilly, but do not imply that God is in agreement with their union.

  • PCUSA has publicly declared itself to be an unsafe place for children and families by encouraging gays to flagrantly recruit young people.

  • “biblical” definition of marriage is fiction. It includes polygamy, forced marriage of widowed in laws, women as chattel property, rape of enemy civilians in wartime, a commercial transaction, as compensation of a woman’s father for rape of a daughter…

    There are many sins of a far graver nature promulgated by various churches. Especially ones you would call Christian. Motes and planks James.

  • Bqrq, if you think people can be recruited to become gay, it tells us more about your own orientation than anything else.

  • I love how church people dress up their talk in religious lace like the statement from the clerk, who wrote “Spirit to continue to,” thereby inferring just because they did this, the Holy Spirit was leading them. It seems no matter what religious people do, they claim God led them.


  • Mary Wisniewski and Steve Bittenbender don’t you think this story line is getting a bit old? All denominations have seen horrible decline in the last 10-30 years, the Roman Catholic Church being the biggest looser in terms of total numbers. Whether you favor same sex marriage or oppose it, you loose members. It’s not a factor. I know the current rule for journalists is “if it bleeds it leads, sex is next.” But beating this dead horse is boring and tells me you are just lazy.
    To the commentators: PCUSA makes its own rules; you only have a say if you are a voting member. If you have something to say, join them.

  • Larry – it seems clear to many of us that primary purpose and mission of gay churches and the gay rights movement in general, is to recruit young people, especially handsome young men in their prime of life, to either participate in the practice or else to simply approve of the practice.

  • “PCUSA makes its own rules…”

    And that is why PCUSA is dying. When churches toss the Bible out the window and “make their own rules”, you know they’re on their last legs.

  • LOL! If you can be “recruited” to become gay, you were just looking for excuses. I know what gender my libido reacts to and it can’t be changed by any kind of arguments, no matter how compelling. Yours too. You can quit pretending by using dishonest terms like “lifestyle”.

    As for “approval”, it comes from being a human being who is not looking for socially acceptable excuses to hate people. What you do in the bedroom is none of my business or yours. As for churches, they are answerable to their congregations and leadership. Unless you are one of those, your opinion on their Christian faith are none of your business either.

    2 consenting adults, not related to each other, seeking to share their lives together is not something which can be considered immoral in any objective sense. Maybe according to your arbitrary and capricious interpretation of scripture, but nothing in any objective sense.

  • And every other Christian sect as well. Evidently many churches like to make their own rules concerning what “love thy neighbor” means or the duties of providing charity one is compelled by Jesus himself to do.

    Lets be honest for once. ALL churches toss the Bible out the window and make their own rules in one form or another. That is why you have 500+ sects all claiming to be the “real version”.

    It is why even without an outside threat to rail against, Christians love to engage in sectarian sniping at each other. You guys not only can’t agree on what the Bible’s rules are, you are willing to kill each other over the differences in interpretation. Atheists aren’t required to make Christians go at each other’s throats. They do that all by themselves.

  • Last year I watched and listened carefully to the streaming General Assembly. (Not as good as being there for between sessions discussion, but all I could manage) They struggled mightily with this controversial issue, but they did vote to to send this on for Church approval. My personal opinion: Jesus never turned anyone away who came to him. God has the responsiblity for Judgement, not individuals or assemblies of any size. The PCUSA is full of sinners of all kinds, I sit among them as often as I can.
    When I served as pastor, I occasionaly had the obligation to minister to gay persons who were deeply wounded by the words and actions of those around. I wept and prayed more for those who did the wounding I think.
    In the end the Assembly offered local option for churches on whether or not to allow their fellowship would allow the blessing of marriage there. But never did it give us the right to judge our brothers and sisters

  • “You guys not only can’t agree on what the Bible’s rules are, you are willing to kill each other over the differences in interpretation.”

    Well, at last count, there are over a dozen (actually closer to two dozen) Christian denominations represented in my hometown and its surrounding counties, comprising about 200 churches of various flavors..

    Again, at last count, there exists NO police, sheriff, or state trooper records — anywhere — of any of these diverse church groups “killing each other over differences in interpretation.”

    So given what you said, how do you account for this universal absence of “killing”, Larry?

    Also, at last count, every single Christian church or denomination within this extended area, ALL AGREE that atheism — your atheism — is a sin according to the Bible.

    So given what you said, how do you account for this universal agrement, Larry?

  • One reason that some gay men kiss each other on the mouth, in public and in front of children, is to influence and condition young children (especially boys) to accept the premise that it is normal to practice sodomy. Gays seek to plant their evil seed in the minds of young children and then encourage them to “experiment” with other children, and to “experiment” with adults once they reach the legal age of consent. This is just one of the many ways that gays publicly recruit our children and young people to either participate in or approve of gay sex.

  • “Why don’t they remove the sin of adultery, of stealing, of greed and lust?”

    I believe that heterosexuals in general and conservative Christians in particular have already done just that.

  • “especially handsome young men in their prime of life, to either participate in the practice…”

    And yet another antigay reveals what is going on inside of his head.

  • Funny, Bqrq. You’d be surprised how many of my heterosexual male friends kiss me hello.

    I don’t think they’re trying to make me straight, and its way too late to make me gay. Your obsessions and fixations are highly revealing.

  • Are you speaking from personal experience here? Men you have kissed on the mouth?

    Because I am failing to see why or where you would have any credible knowledge of the subject as to the motivations and actions of gay people.

    Is there something you want to share with the group?

  • And you can thank secularism and its fruit: the separation of church & state and free exercise of religion for the fact that they only attack each other online or in nasty minded rhetoric.

    Give any of those churches official political power and sectarian conflict comes naturally. As it had for centuries. It wasn’t that Christian churches got more socialized, its that people took away their power to attack others under color of law.

    “ALL AGREE that atheism — your atheism — is a sin according to the Bible.”

    They all agree that any religion and sect besides their own is a sin according to the Bible. As is being Hindu, Buddhist, Animist or any number of faiths that do not believe in montheism. Being a Hindu is a greater sin in the Bible than being atheist. How many references are there about idolators and worshipers of many gods being worthy of death or genocide? Too many for you to admit to.

  • And the “no true Christian” phallacists are out in force, as yet another denomination decides that antigay bigotry has no place in a church full of sinners, not despite what their bibles allegedly say on the subject, but because of what their bibles say on a host of other subjects.

    Perhaps the holy spirit has been leading so many denominations into an understanding that doesn’t depend on and deify an ancient, vicious, and durable prejudice. Perhaps god is saying “you guys have had it wrong for 2000 years, but you have been just too spiritually deaf, dumb, and blind to know it.”

  • Larry and Ben,

    So much to learn and so little brain room left. You both have almost maxed out…….let your pets take over your posts. Thanks.

  • ben in oakland,
    You and Larry should try and understand there are more worthy and wholesome pursuits than devoting your life to promoting and extolling sexual immorality. God is good and has much to offer. Seek God, not sodomy, and you will experience a better life.

  • Sorry, honey, but contrary to your beliefs, my life could not be much better.

    I have a wonderful husband, a huge circle of friends and family that love us, a life full of peace and joy, great health and energy, and until I retired, a very successful and fulfilling career. At 64, I still can run circles around men 20 years my junior. Since I left Christianity some 45 years ago, I’ve not had a single regret. If there is a god, he/she/it has blessed me and my family and friends tremendously.

    what do you have? Obsessions over the sex lives of others, young men and sodomy, and god.

    Thanks, but I think I’ll keep my life, and avoid yours.

  • So where does your alleged knowledge of gay people come from again? You were talking out of the posterior orifice and didn’t like being questioned about it. Gotcha.

    Does it make your little baby Jesus cry when you make stuff up?

    Your version of God is far from good, his followers are not particularly moral types, or even live particularly well. They seem to spend most of their time being hung up on what others do and PO’ed at the world around them. So interested in the lives of others that they don’t do anything worthwhile.

    You are a terrible spokesperson on behalf of God and a great motivation towards atheism.

  • Twenty years ago you had adequate residual resistance to this sort of silliness.

    It’s another indicator, in case we needed one, that congregations are social clubs for a certain sort of bourgeois. If hanging out with 58 year old women who like hymn-singing, store-bought cookies, watered-down coffee, and the bad cooking of other 58 year old women is not your hobby, congregations have little to offer. They are legacy institutions and will go the way of other trusts and foundations subject to bad management.

    As for the clergy, they ought to get normal jobs.

  • And the “no true Christian” phallacists are out in force,

    If you weren’t so steeped in your own arrogance, it might occur to you that words have meanings and those meanings imply boundary conditions. It might also occur to you that there’s a reason it never occurred to anyone prior to about 1970 that sodomy was congruent with Christian understandings of what human sexuality is and what it is for. It might also occur to you that the world doesn’t revolve around your abused ass and that your complaints about others are not very important.

  • Why don’t we just do away with all churches and declare Art Deco, “Super-Pope of all Christianity”.

    He already acts like he speaks for all of Christendom. Might as well make it official.

  • The problem is not that you are ministering to hurting people. Jesus ministered to hurting people, after all.

    The problem is that the Presbyterians have formally, nationally, collectively, and publicly, denied and contradicted that very same Jesus. This is a huge disaster by any measure. There is NO healing of hurts, no ministering to the wounded, no restoration and wholeness, no salvation and hope, in fact NO upside at all, in this mess they have made.

    Jesus made things quite clear in Matt 19:4-6 (God’s express design for marriage), and 1 Cor 6:9-11 (Jesus saving, cleansing, and delivering the ancient Corinthian homosexuals.) Jesus even mentions a historical reference to the judgment that hit Sodom in Matt. 11:23.

    Jesus was NEVER a gay marriage activist. He never tried to help hurting people via affirming their sins.

  • Art, this is why, in a very ironic and unlikely way, this has been a very good thing for the church as a whole. It neatly and easily sifts out the nominal pew-warmers who have been the bane of the church ever since Constantine made Christianity the socially correct “thing to do.” There is nothing like a little opposition from the popular culture to straighten out people’s priorities and expose some of the phonies that Jesus assured us would always be there right up until the end of the age.

  • Tom: It’s not about the numbers–although that is frightening–but about fidelity to Christ. We do know that when our Lord returns to complete the Plan of Salvation, there will be very few left who are faithful (Luke 18:8). So, sadly, the Presbyterians are only fulfilling our Lord’s prophetic Word. I believe the Presbyterians are known as the Split P’s because of all the divisions they’ve undergone. So it is likely that this will cause another split. The Protestant Reformation is showing its true fruits. How many denominations now? 40,000? And where there is division, there is chaos. That is how the devil operates.

  • Hi James Carr, well — the ad hominem attacks are pretty nasty. But just because you disagree certainly doesn’t mean God, truth or history on are your side. I guess that’s probably the scary part? I’m not a Presbyterian anymore, since I’ve become an Episcopalian, but I sure am proud of my brothers and sisters in Christ for faith!

  • What is the basis for your statement that two consenting adults must “not be related to each other” in order to be married or for their sexual relationship to not be “considered immoral in any objective sense”? Is that clearly taught in the Bible, or is there some other authority on which you base that statement?

  • As always, you are classy beyond belief.

    Of course it did. It’s called an ancient, vicious, virulent, and durable prejudice that has been given the thinnest veneer of respectability by calling it “sincere religious belief.”

    The jews have had much the same experience.

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