Fidelity and Chastity

The 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is going on this week.

One particular issue that many of us are watching closely is a phrase that is in its Book of Order, in regards to ordination. Currently, the policy is that the PC(USA) only supports ordination for those who practice either fidelity to their marriage or chastity. Of course, many of us will immediately notice that this excludes openly homosexual persons from ordination.

It has been proposed to change the words “fidelity” and “chastity” with the following language:

“Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.” The governing body responsible for ordaining or installing a candidate “shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office,” and determine the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill the requirements presented in the constitutional questions for those being ordained and installed.

To be completely honest, I think this is a bad move. What this reflects is complete cultural accommodation. While I have been criticized before as being someone who has accommodated to culture, the beliefs I hold are rooted in my interpretation of scripture. That is why I believe that this is a bad move for the PC(USA) to make.

If the Presbyterians believe that they ought to ordain homosexuals, they should be honest and say that. Instead, what we have here is throwing out the baby with the bath water. In the interest of being inclusive, we have lowered the bar for ministry too low.

While it could be argued that homosexuality is/isn’t ok according to scripture, what equivocally cannot be argued from scripture is that it is ok to not have fidelity to one’s spouse. The scripture does not seem to be neutral about sexual love outside a covenantal  relationship.

If the PC(USA) wants to extend covenantal relationships to include homosexual union/marriage, then own that and make THAT proposal. Please reserve the sacredness of marriage and the blessings of sex within it instead of equating homosexual ordination with a lack of standards.

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0 thoughts on “Fidelity and Chastity

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Fidelity and Chastity | Political Jesus: Journeys in Non-Resistant Love --

  2. Tusk M

    Surely, there are other requirement for ordination, as it stands currently. I don’t know much of anything about the presby scene, and maybe you can clarify for me. But if fidelity or chastity are the requirements, any 13 year old could be ordained. This already looks like a really low bar. I don’t see how ordaining homosexuals lowers the bar any more. And aren’t homosexuals just as capable of practicing fidelity or chastity, in the context of theirr elationships…or lack thereof, respectively?

    1. Optimistic Chad

      you are, of course, correct, Tusk. The ordination process within the PC(USA) is one of the most arduous around. More than a year’s membership in a PC(USA) congregation, meetings with the session for their approval, MDiv, Bible content exam, 4 intimidating ordination exams, Greek, Hebrew, CPE, submission to a committee that gets all up in your personal kool-aid, classes in Presbyterian polity, as well as Reformed theology, and tons of paperwork. And even without the fidelity and chastity clauses, the potential candidate would have to stand before their governing body to have themselves and their lives examined and approved. What I was getting at is that fidelity and chastity are good ideals in and of themselves, and should not be jettisoned so that we can allow homosexuals ordination simply by leaving the door open. I would rather have us take a stand one way or the other.
      As to your last point, yes. Of course homosexuals are capable of fidelity and chastity. In fact, a chaste homosexual can be ordained now within the PC(USA). However, we Presbos at the moment do not recognize civil unions as marriage and thus non-chaste homosexuals, not having what is considered a “marriage” within our ranks, are thus barred from ordination.


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