Press Release: Presbyterians Vote to Remove “Fidelity and Chastity” Standards for Clergy

on July 11, 2008

James Berkley, Director of Presbyterian Action, and Alan Wisdom, Vice President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, have signed a joint declaration by the leaders of Presbyterian renewal groups in response to the actions taken by the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly on June 27, 2008. The effect of these actions would be to cast aside biblical morality and Christian practice in order to allow persons who are unrepentant in practicing sexual immorality—including homosexual practice—to be ordained to the offices of deacon, elder, and minister. Presbyterian Action stands beside its renewal colleagues—and indeed the majority of Presbyterians—in rejecting this action, which rejects God’s Word and sovereign will.


San Jose—Today the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lies gravely wounded, by the hand of its own General Assembly. This Assembly has struck multiple blows, threatening to sever the sinews that hold us together as a Christian body and as a part of the larger body of Christ. This is a day for grieving.

The General Assembly today, by majority vote, has conveyed to our congregations and to the world that it rejects the Bible’s teaching and our Reformed confessions’ affirmation that homosexual behavior does not comport with Christian faith.

The Assembly also is asking our presbyteries to remove by their vote the constitutional requirement of “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” as a standard for officers in this denomination.

Moreover, this Assembly has adopted a constitutional interpretation that is intended to strip the church of its ability to set any binding standards for the behavior of its officers.

These decisions place the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in spiritual jeopardy. They threaten to cut us off from God’s ancient law, given for our good, by which God prohibited adultery and all other sexual relations outside the marriage of man and woman. They threaten to cut us off from the apostolic Church, which laid only a few behavioral requirements on the new Gentile believers—among them that they “abstain from sexual immorality.” These actions threaten to cut us off from the PCUSA’s birthright in the Reformation, with its insistence that all matters of faith and practice be decided on the basis of “Scripture alone.” They threaten to cut us off from the vast majority of the global Church today, which holds firmly to the orthodox faith that this Assembly so lightly casts aside. These actions threaten to cut us off from our own denomination’s members and congregations, which also by large majorities affirm the biblical teachings on these matters.

We grieve for the Assembly’s terrible loss of faith. We grieve for the thousands of churches in our denomination who receive this news with shock and dismay. And we grieve for all those who are encouraged by this action to engage in sinful behaviors that God does not bless. The Church’s calling is to hold out to them the Gospel message of forgiveness and redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As pastors and members of this denomination’s 11,000 churches, it is our turn to recall the response of Nehemiah, and weep over the news of this destruction of God’s house. It is our turn to say that we have sinned. It is our turn to come together to repent and to rebuild.

This is not a day without hope. We join the hundreds of thousands of faithful Presbyterians in looking to the Church’s Savior in this hour. We reaffirm our love for the Savior and his Church. We invite Presbyterians to join us in seeking God’s help to turn back this effort to lead the Church to a place where it is in danger of becoming no Church. None of the damage done by this Assembly is final or irreversible.


Marie Bowen
Moderator, Presbyterian Renewal Network
Executive Director
Presbyterians Pro-Life
Gabrielle Avedian
Executive Director
Presbyterian Forum
Jim Berkley
Presbyterian Action for Faith & Freedom
Alan Wisdom
Institute on Religion and Democracy
Presbyterian Action
Terry Schlossberg
Executive Director
Presbyterian Coalition
Sid Rice
Executive Director
Literacy & Evangelism, Int’l
Charles Burge
Executive Director
Presbyterian Lay Committee
Bill Young
Executive Director
Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship
Sue Cyre
Executive Director
Presbyterians for Faith, Family, and Ministry
Sylvia Dooling
Voices of Orthodox Women
Paul Detterman
Executive Director
Presbyterians for Renewal
Renee Guth
Executive Coordinator
New Wineskins Association of Churches
Bradley Long
Executive Director
Presbyterian Renewal Ministries, Int’l
Tim Meredith
Constitutional Presbyterians
Robert Pitman
John Snyder
Knox Fellowship



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