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!

Monday, February 01, 2010

PCUSA Committee on Marriage

The Special Committee to Study Issues on Civil Union and Christian Marriage has released its final report. Go to the Office of the General Assembly then to the report in pdf. After 900 lines of report, here are the recommendations:
1. The Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010):

a. commend the committee’s report to sessions and presbyteries, and urge them to engage in study of the issues presented in the report; and

b. commend to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) the covenant “Those Whom God Has Joined Together, Let No One Separate” as a guide by which we broken and hurting people, seeking to be faithful, might come together to discuss issues about which we disagree.

2. The Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010):

a. affirm the church’s call to extend Christ’s compassion to all; and

b. encourage presbyteries and sessions to be diligent in their exercise of care in all the transitions of life, confessing our common brokenness and our unique individual expressions of that brokenness (W–6.3009, 6.3010).

3. The Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010):

a. encourage all presbyteries and sessions to provide resources consonant with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) regarding use of church facilities administered by said governing bodies for marriages and blessing ceremonies; and

b. encourage all presbyteries to provide resources consonant with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) regarding clergy participation in marriages and/or same-sex union ceremonies. Such resources should include guidance on fulfilling the requirements for solemnizing of marriages within the civil jurisdiction or jurisdictions within which the presbytery is located.

4. The Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010) direct the General Assembly Mission Council, through its Office of Theology Worship and Education, and the Office of the General Assembly’s Department of Constitutional Services, to provide updated guidelines and resources addressing the difference between a ceremony of Christian marriage and a same-sex union ceremony.

5. The Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010):

a. encourage all sessions to engage in study of issues of biblical interpretation using the General Assembly papers, “Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture” and “Biblical Authority and Interpretation”;

b. direct the General Assembly Mission Council, through its Office of Theology Worship and Education, to develop and distribute a study guide for use with the General Assembly papers, “Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture” and “Biblical Authority and Interpretation” that will help sessions engage in issues of civil unions and Christian marriage in light of the principles contained within those papers; and

c. commend to sessions the use of additional resources related to biblical interpretation, specifically the video segment “Biblical Authority and Interpretation,” with its accompanying study guide, that was developed by the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Three of the committee members thought this report was too liberal (I guess is the word) and will make their own minority report. It will likely contain a ton of superstition with the final declaration that Mr. Deity only allows heterosexuals to do the nasty and that is after they have been married by an Elvis Impersonator in Vegas.

Presbyterian clergy do not need this committee's approval nor the approval of the General Assembly to officiate at gay weddings.

We have had victories for marriage in the court system (Rev. Jane Spahr, Rev. Janet Edwards, and most recently, Rev. Jean Southard). We don't want to go backwards.

So what do you think? Did this committee send us back or move us ahead?

Frankly, I think it sent us backward.
  • Recommendations 1 and 2 really don't do anything.
  • Recommendation 3 could be a disaster for liberals in conservative presbyteries especially if there is any authority tied to these "resources." This recommendation should have left the presbyteries out of it and simply reaffirmed freedom of conscience for clergy and sessions.
  • Recommendation 4 begins with the assumption that there is a difference between a Christian marriage and a same-sex union ceremony. That recommendation is bad news.
  • Recommendation 5 calls for more study and superstition. No harm though.
Remember, we already can officiate at Same-Gender Presbyterian Christian Weddings.

I trust that commissioners to the 2010 General Assembly will thank the committee for the report without approval and instead affirm one of the overtures from Baltimore or New York City to change the Directory of Worship and affirm marriage justice.

16 comments:

  1. ...the difference between a ceremony of Christian marriage and a same-sex union ceremony...
    To me, that's the answer to your question. Backwards? Yes. Harder and harder to figure out, much less explain, why I am still holding on to this Presbyterian church? Yes and yes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The report really doesn't matter. We have a number of overtures to the GA and that is where the action is! Even more than that there are local congregations of Presbyterians who get it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't think this report does anything. The recommendations only take us backward if we bother to listen to them. Why would we? I'm already married and anyone else can be too. The only issue is that it is slightly more work for us to find a minister who will preside than for straight folks who pick their church based on which one has the prettiest stained glass windows and nicest pipe organ (which, by the way, is also allowed. No need for any sort of actual pastoral relationship with the couple. That's old-fashioned.)

    This report will be as ineffective and ignored as the proposed "minority report", which is why I hope the liberals on the committee don't waste their time preparing their own minority report. They've surely got better things to do than write a report that will similarly be ignored. Why dignify this "process" with more work? (Not to mention that it would just give the other side more airtime. Nothing would tick off the busybodies, tattletales and fusspots more than simply ignoring them. Their narcissism can't handle that. Witness the busybodies who can't go 3 days without blogging about John in order to boost their blog hits and sense of self-importance.)

    Unfortunately what this does do is provide an "out" for GA if it decides to get weak in the knees. That is, I'd lay a bet that they'll answer the marriage overtures with approval of this report. (There's no way they'll approve a minority report since the whole point of this silly exercise was to look "fair and balanced.")

    However, if anyone wants advice on what the right-wing minority report should contain, allow me to commend to you a law recently proposed in Oklahoma which would make it illegal for any minister to "solemnize" a same sex marriage. Or those statements by some bigwig at the American Family Association who stated last week that LGBT people should be thrown in prison like drug dealers. Dear members of the minority: Please have the guts to actually stand for your convictions and make this easy on all of us. Write a report that says clearly and simply what you really believe in one sentence: "LGBT people should have no rights whatsoever. Heterosexual people should have the right to second marriages, third marriages, fourth marriages, arranged marriages, Las Vegas weddings, and mail-order Russian brides."

    But no, in case you're thinking it, this isn't about their hatred of LGBT people. Of course it isn't.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just got a chance to skim the report and I see they end with:

    "Those whom God has joined together, let no one separate."

    Are they fraking kidding me with this?! Just how insulting were they trying to be? To end such a report on such a topic with a statement specifically said at the end of a ceremony they're saying we can't be part of?

    This report deserves to be ignored, not only because it does nothing, but because the authors were clearly intent on just being jerks. I don't know how anyone could write that last statement after writing the other 900 lines of drivel and not see how insulting and patronizing and clearly clueless it is.

    Yes, by all mean's let's be "pastoral" toward the poor queers and then intentionally mock them with the last line of the report.

    Gah.

    Move on. Ignore it and it'll go away like every other report like this. It doesn't deserve the electrons I'm using up to rant about it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I thought a second minority report by the progressives might show that this main report was NOT progressive in any way.

    However, they aren't going to do that anyway, and it could influence commissioners to pick the main report as a middle way.

    We have some good overtures that will actually do something coming to this GA.

    What I found amusing was the recommendation to read the Bible. Good Lord, haven't we read that book enough yet?

    Bless their hearts, the progressives really do think they can compromise with the busybodies.

    It isn't a matter of being nice. It isn't a matter of getting along. It isn't a matter of reading the Bible together.

    The BFTSs want gays silenced and unseen (imprisoned, dead, closeted--whatever). Out of sight out of mind, thus sayeth their Lord.

    That is it. It is a matter of heaven and hell for these people. Read the LayMAN. Do we think they are kidding? Do we not think "the Millstone" means what she says?

    They are non-compromising because it is for them the Gospel. Their Gospel does not include the gay. Period. End of story.

    So, liberals, please, stop trying to compromise for the sake of BS unity that excludes justice.

    All you do is give away what we have already gained.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The BFTSs want gays silenced and unseen (imprisoned, dead, closeted--whatever). Out of sight out of mind, thus sayeth their Lord.

    Don't they understand that the best way to do that is to admit them equally into all aspects of civil life?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Speaking of where the action is the new More Light Presbyterians Blog has added new equality overtures from Western Reserve and Boston!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, the beat goes on. Gates is recommending that "don't ask don't tell" be studied for yet another year.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's too bad they don't, John - 'cause it's also the best way to get rid of the FTBS movement, as well! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. It took thousands of years for most of humanity to finally declare slavery wrong. I hope we can shorten the process immensely when it comes to welcoming GLBT people into our holy communion and celebrate their marriages. Thanks for all you are doing to promote justice and love.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well, since homosexuality and the discrimination of homosexuals has been around at least as long as slavery, I'd say the green light is far past due, Abundance!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, since you asked my opinion...

    Report says:
    Peace > Justice = holiness

    I say:
    Peace > Justice = grand lie on a cosmic scale

    ReplyDelete
  13. Does the report actually *say* anything? I'm having a lot of difficulty teasing anything out of it at all. It's bureaucratic nothingness.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @irreverence

    I think you have an accurate set of equations there!

    ReplyDelete