Not content to let the Episcopalians, Lutherans, UCCers and Disciples jump alone, the Presbyterian Church (USA) plunged over the cliff yesterday. The Layman Online reports:
The 221st General Assembly passed two measures on Thursday afternoon to allow same-sex marriages in the Presbyterian Church (USA), one of which goes into effect immediately.
The General Assembly voted first to approve an Authoritative Interpretation (AI) of the constitution that would give Presbyterian pastors discretion to conduct same-sex ceremonies in states where the practice is legal. The vote on business item 10-03 was 61 percent (317) in favor and 39 percent (238) against. It goes into effect immediately.
Not long after, the assembly also voted to approve an amendment to theBook of Order that would change the definition of marriage from “a woman and a man” to “two people.” The vote on business item 10-02 was 429 (71percent) to 175 (29 percent).
It will now be sent to the denomination’s 172 presbyteries for ratification, and if approved by 87 of the presbyteries, it could be part of the PCUSA constitution by this time next year (2015).
The assembly did approve an amendment to the first paragraph of the proposed change to the definition of marriage so that what will be sent to the presbyteries for approval reads — “Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people (traditionally between a man and a woman) to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.”
That italicized parenthetical is so pwecious. “Bizarre as it may seem,” they seem to be saying, “we once lived in caves and thought marriage was given by God to join together men and women. Silly us!”
The prospect now is for hundreds more churches to depart PCUSA for ships that aren’t sinking. Leadership wants to do all that it can to forestall the exodus, of course:
The final piece of business from the Civil Unions and Marriage Issues committee was a request for some kind of reconciliation process.
The motion, which was overwhelmingly approved (521-31) by the General Assembly, read:
“Direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly to establish a way to bring reconciliation to the church that would involve visiting each presbytery and serving as a resource for each presbytery’s discussion of these actions in congregations and the presbytery at-large and present voices of reconciliation for the unity of the church.”
In introducing the item, Committee Chairman Jeffrey Bridgeman from the Presbytery of Santa Barbara, passionately spoke about the need for reconciliation.
“These issues have caused deep fissures and the exodus of churches and individuals,” he said, “Both the church I grew up in and the community of faith of my first call have graciously left our community in the last six months. … Far too many friends and family have broken fellowship to continue their ministries in other places … My heart is broken.”
“Our committee knew that something other than polity action needed to happen, that is why this new piece of business is before you,” he said. “As a denomination we cannot continue to take steps to be more inclusive and ignore the exclusion of others. … There must be a deliberate and concerted effort to find ways to heal this increasingly broken and fragile relationship. We need reconcilation.”
Yeah, their hearts are broken so badly that they are willing to ignore Scripture, the confessions of the church, and 2000 years of Christian tradition–not to mention the continuing objections of large swaths of the denomination’s membership–to get what they want. As for the desired “reconciliation,” color me skeptical. The way I read that is, “Gentlemen, we’ve got to keep the yokels on board or they’ll take their dollars with them and imperil our phony-baloney jobs!”
This completes the spiritual suicide begun at the last General Assembly when the decision was made to ordain gays. In its rejection of Scripture and tradition, in its declaration of independence from the Church Catholic, in its joining itself at the hip to the Zeitgeist, the PCUSA has answered Joshua’s challenge: “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.” (Joshua 24:15 ESV)
PCUSA has chosen the gods of this land.