By Marcia Segelstein, Salvo Magazine.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1993 and for eighteen years served as a pastor in Texas, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Following actions by the church’s General Assembly in 2010, she asked to be removed from the ministry. She now serves as President of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, and chairs the ecumenical leadership network Common Ground Christian Network. LaBerge spoke with Salvo about her reasons for leaving the ordained ministry, her thoughts on how Christians must seize the opportunity to influence the culture, and on engaging the next generation of Christians.
Let’s talk about your personal story. Why did you set aside your ordination in 2011?
The General Assembly determined in 2010 to revise the standards of ordination to allow the ordination of people who did not restrict their sexual expression to either marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness. The stripping away of that ordination standard from the constitution sent shockwaves through the denomination. I didn’t feel called to leave the denomination per se, but it did feel like the time had come for me to no longer be credentialed as an ordained pastor. I could not in good conscience have participated in the ordination process, certainly not in the act of the whole church ordaining a person who was making those kinds of lifestyle choices. So I asked my presbytery to remove me from the ordered ministry, as the language reads, and they agreed to do that.
Now, that doesn’t mean that in the future, should PCUSA repent of its actions and restore that standard of ordination—fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman and chastity in singleness—that I couldn’t return to the ordained ranks. However, I don’t anticipate the denomination returning to a faithful standard, nor do I anticipate the Lord calling me to do ordained ministry.
So Carmen thinks being gay is a choice and then sets her ordination aside in protest. Basically she is a bigot and a homophobe. Guess we are glad she is gone, we don’t need that type of view. Now just go away and leave us alone.
Posting your advice to Carmen on The Layman web site shows an amazing lack of self-awareness on your part.
One becomes a homosexual when one engages in homosexual intercourse, and one ceases to be a homosexual when one repents of it and does it no more. Being afflicted with unwanted homosexual desires no more makes one a homosexual than being afflicted with unwanted heterosexual desires makes one an adulterer or a fornicator. We are obligated to struggle against sinful desires; we by no means are permitted to give into them, inwardly or outwardly, for such is the warp and woof of sin against God.
That said, being homosexual is a choice, for no one is coercing those who practice homosexuality to do so.
Your use of derogatory labels is most unbecoming of civil discourse. I suggest you refrain from using them and instead use reasoned arguments.
Also, you might want to rethink your approbation of the screen name, “A Calvinist”, considering your views of homosexuality. Have you read Calvin’s commentaries on the passages of Scripture normally cited for the sinfulness of homosexuality?
Loren, your attitude is incredibly ignorant and a sign of bigotry and intolerance. The problem with the Layman and with Carmen is that she and her organization are intent on hurting the church. It even has resources posted on the website to aid and abet that destruction.
I doubt any serious person thinks being gay is a choice. The evidence is counter to that. To persist in that point of view is cruel and nasty.
An aside- most churches these days do have elders and deacons who are single and heterosexual. And in many, many cases these persons are either living with a partner or in a relationship. This has been the case for years. And yet I know of no case where this clear violation of B ever was enforced or even mentioned by the Layman.
O and I am very much a Calvinist in every sense of the meaning.
To one and all concerning “Calvinist”
Wow! You are really quick to judge!
“I doubt any serious person thinks being gay is a choice” is a very condescending statement; and you have the audacity to call me arrogant?
And please do forgive me if I believe the Bible rather than the world when it comes to instruction regarding human nature. And if I seem to you to be “cruel and nasty” when I say that homosexuality is sin, when the Bible says as much (Gen. 19.4-9, Lev. 18.22, 20.13, Dt. 23.17-18, Judg. 19.22-25, Rom. 1.24-27, I Cor. 6.9-11, I Tim. 1.9-10, Jude 7), how will you seem to those who commit it, whom you have told it is not a sin, when they stand before God’s Judgment Seat and He condemns them for it?
And as for the Presbyterian Lay Committee “intent on hurting the church”, do you honestly think that they somehow derive pleasure in causing angst in the heart of those who hate them? Does it not occur to you that for the last fifty years the PLC has been striving (largely in vain) to persuade the moribund PCUSA to turn from its obsession with conforming itself to the world’s way of thinking (when Scripture tells us that we ought not do that; Rom. 12.2, I Cor. 1.21, I Pet. 1.14, I Jn. 2.15-17), and that pain is often a result, especially among those who are perishing (II Cor. 2.15-16)?
And finally, a few quotes from Calvin:
Commentary on Leviticus 18.22-30:
“We learn from these passages that the people were not only prohibited from adultery, but also from all sins which are repugnant to the modesty of nature itself. In order that all impurity may be the more detestable, He enumerates two species of unnatural lust (i.e., male homosexuality & bestiality), from whence it is evident that when men indulge themselves in this respect, they are carried away by an impulse, which is more than beastly, to defile themselves with shameful wickedness. The beasts are satisfied with natural connexion; it is therefore a gross enormity that this distinction should be confounded by man endowed with reason; for what is the use of our judgment and intelligent faculties if it be not that greater self-restraint should exist in us than in the brute animals? It is plain, therefore, that they must be blinded in a horrible manner who so shamefully defile themselves, as Paul says (Rom. 1.28). The madness of lust has, however, invented several monstrous vices, whose names it would be better to bury, if God had not chosen that these shameful monuments should exist, to inspire us with fear and horror.”
Commentary on Romans 1.24-32:
“26. God therefore gave them up, &c.After having introduced as it were an intervening clause, he returns to what he had before stated respecting the judgment of God: and he brings, as the first example, the dreadful crime of unnatural lust; and it hence appears that they not only abandoned themselves to beastly lusts, but became degraded beyond the beasts, since they reversed the whole order of nature. He then enumerates a long catalogue of vices which had existed in all ages, and then prevailed everywhere without any restraint.
It is not to the purpose to say, that every one was not laden with so great a mass of vices; for in arraigning the common baseness of men, it is proof enough if all to a man are constrained to acknowledge some faults. So then we must consider, that Paul here records those abominations which had been common in all ages, and were at that time especially prevalent everywhere; for it is marvellous how common then was that filthiness which even brute beasts abhor; and some of these vices were even popular. And he recites a catalogue of vices, in some of which the whole race of man were involved; for though all were not murderers, or thieves, or adulterers, yet there were none who were not found polluted by some vice or another. He calls those disgraceful passions, which are shameful even in the estimation of men, and redound to the dishonouring of God.
“27. Such a reward for their error as was meet. They indeed deserved to be blinded, so as to forget themselves, and not to see any thing befitting them, who, through their own malignity, closed their eyes against the light offered them by God, that they might not behold his glory: in short, they who were not ashamed to extinguish, as much as they could, the glory of God, which alone gives us light, deserved to become blind at noonday.”
Thanks for standing up for LGBT youth and families and for your straightforward and no-nonsense argument. It’s a dangerous thing when people put more stock in recorded scripture than the words God is speaking to our hearts today.