After narrowly rejecting an attempt to redefine marriage as two persons instead of man and woman this afternoon, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly this evening further declined an “authoritative interpretation” allowing clergy to perform same sex marriage where legal. Instead the assembly voted by 75 percent for further study. Earlier this week the church’s newly appointed vice moderator resigned after controversy over her having conducted a same sex wedding in Washington, DC. The assembly, meeting in Pittsburgh, adjourns tomorrow. As the governing body of the 1.9 million member denomination it meets every two years.
Meanwhile, concerned Presbyterians have released a “Pittsburgh Declaration” affirming their denomination’s official biblical stance.
Here is news release from Theology Matters, headed by IRD board member Sue Cyre, and whose fellow, Alan Wisdom, is also an IRD fellow:
Contact: Alan Wisdom, Fellow
Phone: 703-300-5223 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.theologymatters.com THEOLOGY MATTERS
Presbyterians Grateful that Marriage Definition Retained
July 6, 2012
“The revisionists’ victory, it turns out, is not the inevitability that they boasted.”
– Alan Wisdom, Fellow at Theology Matters
Pittsburgh, PA—Today the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) turned back attempts to revise the denomination’s definition of marriage. The assembly rejected an “authoritative interpretation” of the PCUSA constitution that would have allowed ministers to marry same-sex couples holding a civil marriage license. It also refused amendments to the denomination’s Book of Order that would have struck all references to “a man and a woman” marrying and replaced them with language about “two people” marrying.
The result is that the PCUSA Book of Order still declares, “For Christians, marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship.” Likewise, the PCUSA Book of Confessions still defines Christian marriage as a “spiritual and physical union [of] one man and one woman.”
Theology Matters has released today a declaration responding to the General Assembly decision. Presbyterians are adding their names to this Pittsburgh Declaration on Marriage on the Theology Matters website at http://www.theologymatters.com.
Theology Matters fellow Alan Wisdom commented:
“We are grateful for faithful commissioners in Pittsburgh who spoke and voted to uphold the marriage of man and woman. Once again, the PCUSA General Assembly has stepped back from the precipice of redefining marriage. The revisionists’ victory, it turns out, is not the inevitability that they boasted.
“Yet the closeness of the vote warns us against complacency. The debate on marriage is far from over. There will be study, dialogue, and new overtures in local churches and presbyteries over the next two years. We know we will face the same debate in 2014 and beyond. Faithful Presbyterians must be ready to engage that debate, with truth and grace, over the long haul.
“In adopting this Pittsburgh Declaration, we vow to resist the ongoing attempt to redefine Christian marriage. We commit ourselves to a new Marriage Initiative to restore a biblical understanding of marriage in our church and culture, so that men, women, and children may flourish.”
Pittsburgh Declaration on Marriage July 6, 2012
The following is a declaration issued by concerned Presbyterians at the close of the General Assembly in Pittsburgh. They are responding to the Assembly’s refusal to usurp God’s authority and redefine marriage from a man and a woman to any two people who have a marriage license. Fellow Presbyterians are invited to add their endorsements and send them to the postal or email address below.
The definition of marriage remains unchanged. No General Assembly has the power to redefine marriage. No government has the power to redefine marriage. No public opinion poll can alter the nature of marriage. God is the author of marriage, and God alone has the authority to define marriage. We will obey God.
Jesus told us what marriage is. Answering a question from the Pharisees, he pointed back to God’s design in creation: “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-6a) We have no Lord but Jesus.
The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) still upholds this biblical understanding of marriage. The Westminster Confession teaches, “Christian marriage is an institution ordained of God, blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ, established and sanctified for the happiness and welfare of mankind, into which spiritual and physical union one man and one woman enter” (6.133). The church can bless only the relationships that God blesses. It has no authority to bless that which God does not bless.
The Book of Order still says, “For Christians, marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship” (W-4.9001).
Whatever others may do, our consciences are “captive to the Word of God as interpreted in the standards of the church” (G-2.0105). We will continue to resist any efforts to depart from the biblical, confessional teaching on the marriage of man and woman.
In the face of our culture’s devaluing of marriage, we will offer a Christian counter- witness in our congregations, communities, and families. We commit ourselves to teach, practice, and celebrate the “great mystery” of marriage: God’s gracious gift by which the two created sexes, male and female, “become one flesh” with a love that images the love between Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5:31-32). To God be the glory!
Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry/ Theology Matters