In the wake of the passage of Amendment 10-A in the PCUSA, there has been a lot of talk about what kind of response should be undertaken. According to Presbyterian Voices for Justice (more on them in a moment), one Pennsylvania presbytery has stepped up and said a firm “no” to the New Orthodoxy regarding the ordination of sexually active gays:
Northumberland Presbytery (in north central Pennsylvania) took two actions on July 16, 2011 in response to Ordination Amendment 10-A, which has now become G-2.0104 in the Book of Order. First they reinstated the old G-6.0106b (the “fidelity and chastity” requirement) as the policy of the presbytery, and then the majority also passed a motion allowing individual churches to withhold per capita from GA as protest against 10-A passing. The Presbytery will not be permitted to send the missing per capita payments to GA.
Good for Northumberland. Here’s what the specific action the presbytery approves says:
a. Whereas each Presbytery is now called to establish its own standards for ordination, we move that Northumberland Presbytery adopt as ordination and/or installation policy the 2011 Book of Order section G60106.b as a requirement for ordination and installation within this Presbytery.
If it had been me, I wouldn’t have mentioned g60106.b, I would have just said that any ordinand would have to be faithful in marriage and chaste in singleness, but that’s just me. Certainly if their specific use of the now repealed section is challenged, they should simply revert to fidelity/chastity language.
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 ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
I especially like that last sentence, the substance of which should have been emphasized all along. At every point in the debate, two things should be stressed: 1) the standard of conduct is not just about sexuality, but sin, whatever form it takes; and 2) the burden of proof is on those who wish to change the standards to demonstrate that the sexual conduct they want approved is not sin. Instead, liberals changed the terms of the debate to “justice,” “love,” “inclusion,” “equality,” etc., all of which is both besides the point and deeply disingenuous. Again, kudos to Northumberland for taking this approach.
PJV, on the other hand, demonstrates that it wants to rush headlong into an affirmation of Neuhaus’ Law (“where orthodoxy is optional, it shall soon be proscribed”):
This indicates that the struggle for justice and inclusion in the PC(USA) will continue, as fears of change and “the other” and “impurity” continue among many Presbyterians.
Yes, the “struggle” for the New Orthodoxy continues. It will continue until the day that the bigots and homophobes have been run out of town, dissent from the New Orthodoxy is absolutely forbidden, and no one but fundamentalist adherents to the Religion of Inclusion™ are allowed to enter the doors of the (now largely empty) churches–and not a minute before.