The Church Orders and Ministry Committee of the PCUSA’s General Assembly has approved (36-16-1) a proposal to subject presbyteries to their fourth vote in a decade in an effort to lift the ban on ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians. A whole collection of other items, including Beaver-Butler Presbytery’s attempt to give “broader but specific scope” to the ordination standard of G-6.0106b, were set aside in order to pass this on to the full Assembly:
b. Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) 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 (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.
That would take the place of this:
b. Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
The Advisory Committee on the Constitution rather drolly notes that we’ve seen this before:
The proposed language is clear and not inconsistent with any other provision of the Book of Order. The Advisory Committee on the Constitution notes, however, that the language has some similarity, and a similar intent, to the amendment submitted by the 218th General Assembly (2008) to the presbyteries and rejected by a majority of the presbyteries.
I fully expect this to be passed by the General Assembly. Whether it will be passed by the presbyteries I don’t know, but there’s one thing that I think is absolutely certain–if it doesn’t pass, it will be brought back again in 2012, and if it doesn’t pass then, it will be brought back again in 2014, and so forth. Folks who like to complain that the continuing debate over sexuality within the PCUSA is a distraction from mission are, in many instances, the same people who are willing to bring this back as many times as they have to to get what they want.