October 1, 1997
It comes as no surprise to see a press release titled “Covenant Network Formed to Support Passage of Amendment A.” It comes as no surprise to see former GA moderators Robert Bohl and John Buchanan listed as the group’s co-moderators. And, unfortunately, the content of their press piece comes as no surprise either. It baldly misrepresents Amendment A and badly misreads reality.
Praising Amendment A for “requiring moral sexual behavior,” as the co-moderators do, is an astounding exercise in ecclesiastical doublespeak; it reads into the proposed amendment precisely that which its supporters are trying to read out of the existing Constitution (G-6.0106b). The current Book of Order standard requires ordained officers and candidates for ordination to “live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness.” In an abrupt about-face, Amendment A now proposes replacing that standard with an endorsement of “all relationships,” irrespective of gender, number, or kinship or blood relations, bounded only by participants’ subjective notions of “fidelity and integrity.”
Perhaps the most egregious assertion comes as Bohl and Buchanan state their belief that “Amendment A offers a real opportunity for unity and expresses the feeling of the broad middle of the church.” Reality contradicts this reverie. More than 95 percent of the commissioners to the 1991 GA voted to reject the majority report of the Human Sexuality Committee, which provides the philosophical foundations, and even the language, of Amendment A. In 1996, following three years of denomination-wide study, GA commissioners hammered out the language of G-6.0106b, which was then approved by 97 of the denomination’s 172 presbyteries. Also in 1996, a Presbyterian Panel report showed three quarters of our elders and two thirds of our members and pastors opposed to reversing the denomination’s current ordination standards.
By any measure, gay-ordination advocates occupy the radical fringe of the PCUSA. Bohl and Buchanan do no service to the denomination by openly encouraging the radical fringe that seeks to destroy our historic standards and irrevocably divide the church. They and other Amendment A proponents may establish Covenant Networks and Covenants of Dissent to their heart’s content. But “the broad middle” of our denomination has spoken clearly, repeatedly, and lovingly. It has affirmed, time and time again, that God’s covenant with Abraham, renewed at Mt. Sinai, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, is alive and well.
Those at the Presbyterian Church (USA’s) fringe may feel the need for more covenants and more light. But Presbyterians centered around Jesus Christ already have all that they need.