Last night, a majority vote was reached in the PC(USA) for the adoption of Amendment 10A, which removes the definition of marriage as between man and woman and lifted the ordination standard of 'fidelity in marriage and chastity in singleness,' thereby allowing for homosexuals to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons in the denomination.
I have mixed thoughts on the issue, many of which I will share in the coming days. But in the meantime, and in keeping with the recent trend of posting quotes on Wednesdays, I thought I would share with you this portion of an opinion on the matter shared by Dr. John B. (Mike) Loudon in a webinar hosted by the denomination. I should note that I am a fairly new member of the PC(USA), that the main reason I joined was so that I would be able to serve in voluntary administrative/leadership capacities at the church where my husband serves as Associate Pastor, and while I tend to be more conservative than the average Presbyterian, especially on issues related to sex and morality, I don't consider myself an Evangelical.
Emphasis below is mine. To read Dr. Loudon's full statements, or the text of a full point-counterpoint, click here. You'll find it about halfway down.
"Most progressives view the issue of gay and lesbian ordination as a justice issue – a civil rights issue. They see it in the context of other social stigmas addressed in scripture. My friend, Jack Rogers, in his bookJesus, the Bible, and Homosexualitywrites that most people in the church have changed their minds on subjects such as race, the role of women, and the issue of divorce and remarriage, and therefore they should be able to change their minds on the issue of homosexuality. "Most conservative evangelicals, on the other hand, some of whom are also very strong advocates of justice and civil rights, cannot get around the biblical texts that address the subject of homosexuality. They view the Bible as God’s divinely inspired word, and therefore believe they are compelled to trust it and live by it. "The texts about homosexuality are not numerous, but they are of one mind on the subject. "So the biblical witness against homosexual practice is of a single voice, it is morally wrong, and this is the reason that evangelicals do not view gay ordination as simply a justice and a civil rights issue. Evangelicals believe that homosexuality differs significantly from matters such as slavery or the subordination of women, concerning which the Bible contains internal tensions and a counter-posed witness. Therefore, deep divisions have arisen over the last few decades between progressives and evangelicals on this issue, and not just in the Presbyterian Church, but in many Christian denominations. We seem to be able to talk through our differences on most social, political, and theological divisions, but not on the subject of gay and lesbian ordination, or gay marriage for that matter.
"The new overture from General Assembly states, 'Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation. Governing bodies shall be guided by scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.'
"Most of us have no argument with what that says. The amendment is well thought out. Submitting to Jesus Christ brings joy. My liberal and progressive friends have done their homework well. I think it’s the best attempt yet to overturn the Fidelity and Chastity Amendment. But the problem is what this amendment does not say. It does not say, 'Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.' Therein lies the rub. Those of us who are evangelicals believe that the new amendment removes an important constitutional standard on sexual purity and morality, a standard based on scripture that is extremely important to us, and such action is therefore unacceptable. If that standard is removed, many evangelicals and conservatives may come to the conclusion that the denomination has crossed an important boundary and abandoned moral truth and biblical principles."