Presbyterian Church Crawling Toward Marriage Equality

  • The service having id "propeller" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
  • The service having id "buzz" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
Presbyterian Church Crawling Toward Marriage Equality

Many Presbyterians jubilantly proclaimed the Holy Spirit had unquestionably descended upon their 221st General Assembly, when Presbyterians voted to amend its constitution's (The Book of Order) definition of marriage  from “a man and a woman” to “two people.  It’s the only way their vote affirming and blessing the loving coupling for its same-sex worshippers could have happened.

With an overwhelming 61 percent in favor for the amendment and 39 percent in opposition to it (of 565 commissioners), the Holy Spirit—if indeed she's to blame for the church’s recalcitrant attitude toward its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) brethren— took a long time coming.

This recent vote is a welcoming change of heart from the church's 1991 and 2008 rulings prohibiting clergy to perform same-sex marriages.  When clergy performed these marriages, the church's retribution was both draconian and antithetical to any cleric’s vocation toward fairness and justice. These brave ministers—straight and LGBTQ—sat in the hot seat of their ecclesiastical trials as the church considered four possible censures: rebuke, rebuke with rehabilitation, temporary removal from the church, or the permanent removal from church office, meaning defrocked.

While homophobia is nothing new in the hallowed halls of most churches, the Presbyterian Church—born out of a liberal Protestant Christian tradition, descending from the branch of the Protestant Reformation begun by John Calvin—in many ways is an embarrassment to itself.

For more than three decades the Presbyterian Church has been more at holy war rather than spiritual discernment over the issue. And for some Presbyterians, because of the recent vote to amend its constitution, their heels are now dug even deeper either into the church's archaic polity or their religious imaginations of God's edict on the matter.

“My heart breaks,” the Rev. Steve Wilkins, representing the New Harmony Presbytery in South Carolina,  shared with the New York Times during the debate. “I don’t think it’s up to us to change the definition of marriage; in fact marriage has been defined by us and revealed to us in God’s word.”

Sadly, Wilkins is not the only voice still crying out against the Church's recent vote.  So, too, are many Christians across denominational lines.

Rev. Jeff S. Nelson, an ordained gay minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church, and former Seventh Day Adventist had concerns on how to console and to counsel his former minister and scoutmaster of Pathfinders