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.