Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PCUSA Marriage Committee Finishes Its Work

The Committee on Civil Unions and Christian Marriage has finished its work. The Presbyterian Outlook reports:
The committee did not recommend any change in the definition of Christian marriage currently in the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). That definition – that Christian marriage is between a man and a woman – was off-limits to the committee, according to its mandate from the 2008 General Assembly.
This made the committee's work pretty much worthless from the outset. What we need is action. Thanks to Baltimore Presbytery for leading the way. Also thanks to Hudson River for endorsing a similar action recently. Back to the committee...
Nevertheless, three evangelical members of the committee voted against the committee’s recommendations, expressing concern they might lead to some form of local option, and insisting that the church needs to speak a strong message that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong.
At least something in the report had enough substance to alienate the busybodies. What was that something?
Among the recommendations it did approve were to:

- Ask the 2010 General Assembly to encourage presbyteries and sessions to develop resources that are consonant with the PC(USA) constitution, regarding how church facilities can be used for marriages and same-gender union ceremonies, and for clergy participation in marriages or same-gender ceremonies.
That is a start. It is more of a recognition that the wind is blowing. As a recommendation it is rather useless. Sessions already make up their own rules for the use of our facilities. I really don't know why the fundies were fussing over that one.

I did not like the following recommendation:

- Ask the assembly to direct the denomination’s Office of Theology and Worship and the Constitutional Services section of the Office of the General Assembly to provide guidelines and resources addressing the difference between a ceremony of Christian marriage and a same-gender union ceremony.
That language is condescending. It assumes that same-gender marriages are not even Christian! Sorry gay and lesbian couples. Your relationships are simply second-class. Not even Jesus approves.

There you have it. Thanks to the committee members for their work and thanks to the progressives on the committee for doing the best they could do.

What I find pitiful, groveling, and bordering on masochistic is the insistence that the denomination stays together. "We must stay at the table," I hear again and again.

The problem is that the gays aren't at the table! The only way the busybodies will stay "at the table" is if they can keep the gays from it. We have to admit that at some point and move on.

The committee didn't help much, but hopefully it didn't hurt. This is what needs to be done and these types of actions need be taken at the upcoming General Assembly:
1. Allow clergy in the six states (and in any future states) that have legalized same-gender marriage to sign marriage licenses and solemnize these marriages in the church.

2. Affirm that clergy may consecrate marriages (in the eyes of the church) for same-gender couples even in those states that have yet to legalize same-gender marriage.

3. Change the definition of marriage from one man and one woman to two people in all relevant documents.

4. Modify the Directory for Worship to create marriage rites suitable for same-gender couples.

5. Advocate for marriage equality throughout the United States.
The full report from the committee will be on the PCUSA website soon.