Plenary
2012 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly in Pittsburgh, PA.
Photo credit: More Light Presbyterians

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly is meeting in Detriot, MI this week.   They voted today to affirm the marriages between same sex couples.  The constitutional amendment won by more than 70% of the vote and will update the language about marriage in the denominations constitution from a “man and a woman” to “two persons.”  The change will only become church law if it is approved by a majority of 172 presbyteries.

The assembly also voted to allow their pastors to preside over marriages between people of the same sex where it is considered legal while the constitutional amendment is considered by the presbyteries. These changes were attempted in 2012, they had passed out of the Civil Union and Marriage committee, but ultimately failed to receive the majority votes the measures needed to be ratified.

In 2010 they voted to remove a clause that required pastors to avoid extramarital and premarital sex.  As you would expect this caused an exodus of those who hold to orthodox Biblical teaching on sex and relationships.

Their website ironically today has Romans 6:11 displayed, “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God.”  With this denomination the list of what is considered a sin keeps shrinking.

pcusa.org screenshot

According to The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has mirrored the decline of other mainline Protestant denominations.  They note that the latest membership statistics show a loss of 89,296 members in 2013, which was preceded by a loss of 102,721 in 2012.  The entire membership of the denomination is down to 1,760,200.  IRD notes that if the membership decline continues at its current rate it will have no members in 20 years.

“By overturning natural marriage the PCUSA is only accelerating its already fast-paced demise. It will become even smaller, whiter and older,” said Mark Tooley who is President of IRD.  “Only declining denominations reject historic Christian standards and in nearly every case that rejection reinforces the decline. Who respects a church that only echoes the secular world? Many faithful have already quit the PCUSA and many more now will. But some faithful will remain. May the Holy Spirit bless their witness and lay the groundwork for the PCUSA’s return some day to the teachings of the global church.”

Activists within the denomination celebrated the vote.

“The Church affirmed all its faithful members today. This vote is an answer to many prayers for the Church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples,” said Alex McNeill, Executive Director, More Light Presbyterians. “We will keep praying that the majority of our 172 presbyteries will confirm that all loving couples can turn to their churches when they are ready to be married.”

Approximately half of the pastors within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) serve where same-sex couples are allowed to marry.  Currently 19 states and the District of Columbia have allowed marriage between same-sex couples either through legislative action or a judicial decision.

This vote was held on the same day as the March for Marriage in Washington, DC.

9 comments
  1. To say that Presbyterians are “redefining” marriage is ridiculous … unless you’re suggesting that the marriage equality movement was some sinister plot to make homosexuality compulsory for EVERYONE. I hope that’s not what you think.

    For people who are Straight (i.e. heterosexual), absolutely NOTHING is changing about marriage. Nothing is being “redefined.” Straight couples will continue to date, get engaged, marry, and build lives and families together as they always have. None of that will be remotely affected whether (or not) Gay couples are allowed to do the same.

    Conversely, allowing Gay couples to marry will have ZERO impact on the number of Straight couples who divorce, have children out of wedlock, or give up unwanted children for adoption.

    By the way, I’m a member of the Charleston Gay Men’s Chorale (in Charleston, West Virginia), and we rehearse and perform at Kanawha United Presbyterian Church. It’s a very welcoming congregation. They have been absolutely wonderful to us, even inviting us to sing Aaron Copeland’s “Zion’s Walls” during their Pentecost service on June 8th.

      1. Shane, it may be argued that the Bible provides us a moral and ethical framework within which we may conduct our lives with greater kindness, decency, and humility. But the Bible is not a science textbook. Our understanding of matters of sexual orientation is vastly more enlightened than it was thousands of years ago. “One man and one woman” is fine if you’re Straight. It’s irrelevant to anyone who is Gay. If you don’t consider that “orthodox,” stick to a church that is more supportive of your views. Many of other churches are becoming more inclusive and welcoming of Gay individuals and couples.

      2. Darwin said one male, one female. Reproduction is what biology is all about.
        In the Bible, we don’t have to get very far into Genesis before we read marriage is being between one man and one woman.

  2. The Bible is full of immorality when it comes to marriage. And btw, marriage was around long before the Bible.
    A woman has to marry her rapist. A widow must marry her husband’s brother if they did not have a son yet (whether the man is already married or not). If the bride is not a virgin, she must be stoned to death. In the Bible it seems as if it is just one man and one woman per marriage, but it doesn’t say one man can’t have multiple marriages, i.e. multiple wives.
    Thankfully we live in a country where one small group’s religious beliefs don’t get forced onto everyone else.

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