Presbyterians Today (PT) is openly advocating that people look for love in all the wrong places.
The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s premiere periodical sent out its first issue of the year on “love” — timed for Valentine’s Day.
The new editor, Patrick David Heery (formerly the managing editor of the denomination’s social witness advocacy magazine, Unbound), announces in his column that PT is going to feature more “marginalized voices” — including notably LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people. Notably, he did not mention intentional efforts to include conservatives.
The collection of “love stories” featured in the magazine includes a same-sex relationship. The young woman remembers how terrible it was growing up as the daughter of a mega-church pastor. As she realized that lesbianism was her identity, she hated God and thought God hated her. But she discovered true love (human and divine) in a same-sex relationship.
There’s another same-sex couple featured in the article on adoption. For a magazine whose statement of purpose includes upholding “the mission of the Presbyterian Church (USA),” illuminating “the faith and heritage that bind Presbyterians together,” challenging “readers to grow in their commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord,” and providing “a Christian perspective on contemporary issues,” these overt celebrations of same-sex relationships is disheartening.
Although the magazine does accurately chronicle various social trends relating to marriage (cohabitation soaring, children born out of wedlock skyrocketing) there is no attempt to apply any Biblical criteria to evaluating these trends. At the end of the piece, it simply says that Presbyterians are going to have to sort it all out — as if the mind of Christ and the church of Christ can be divided on this issue and somehow also retain a unified witness and existence.
In another place, PT mentions that the PCUSA is dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM) and presbyteries are voting on the amendment. Former General Assembly Moderator and Executive Presbyter Susan Andrews is quoted at length about how SSM is the greatest thing that has happened to the church in a long time. Nobody is quoted saying that this might not be a good idea. Again, for a magazine that is supposed to “report in a fair, accurate and balanced way on the activities of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and of its members, leaders and mission partners,” failure to positively articulate the denomination’s theology of marriage as articulated in the confessions and supported by many people in the pews is disappointing.
One passage mentions the increasing popularity of cohabitation among young people. It says they believe that having cohabited first will prepare them better for marriage. A current seminarian is quoted as saying that she could not conceive of marrying someone without first seeing how they did living together. Nobody is quoted expressing any Biblical, moral or practical qualms about cohabitation. There is no mention of the purity to which God calls His people. There is no mention of holiness or the sanctity of the marriage bed. Nor is there any mention of the documented negative effects of cohabitation and multiple sexual partners.
There’s also a piece in which two church-affiliated young people try out online dating as an experiment. One is a gay man who samples various sites for gay Christian men to meet one another. The second is an (apparently) heterosexual young woman who self-identifies as liberal. She doesn’t like the Christian sites because all the men there are too patriarchal and conservative. She prefers the broader selection she finds on Match.com. She wouldn’t rule out marrying someone of a different faith. Nothing in this piece attempts to bring any Biblical perspective to bear upon the dating process, online dating or the nature of Christian courtship and marriage.
While its appropriate for a church periodical to have an issue on the subject of love, this issue of PT leads people to look for love in all the wrong places.
Many valid points. I think the real question is: Will the leadership at the magazine or within PCUSA care about those points? They give lip service to inclusion and diversity, but they appear by their consistent actions not to want diversity of opinion.
“PT mentions that the PCUSA is dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM) and presbyteries are voting on the amendment. Former General Assembly Moderator and Executive Presbyter Susan Andrews is quoted at length about how SSM is the greatest thing that has happened to the church in a long time.”
SSM, S&M, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, WOW when louisville gets on board with a cause, they go whole hog!!
A celebration of love? Geez, who else spoke of love besides the Beatles? Love God above all else, love your neighbor, love your enemies…
If being LBGTQ or XYZ really is an abomination to God, don’t you think that God can deal with that? I’m supposing that we may all be an abomination to God? At very least a terrible dissapointment on most days but not for being human and loving. Perhaps we all should stop trying to do God’s thinking and decision making, it seems to be getting very tangled and confused with our own. Love.-RB
Thanks. Now that song is stuck in my head.
WOW. As far as the coment about we should let God do his thinking about this subject HE has. It’s called the Bible.
It’s not your fault, I’m grateful to hear about the PT article, but I felt spiritually defiled reading about the Presbyterians Today focus as an expression of the mission of the PCUSA. We’ve left our first Love, Jesus and somehow I was terribly undone by reading this (and you did the right thing!). Social justice issues are now the idol to which we bow down as our first Love is ignored.
How do I get out of an article to read others. My “back” button did not light up.
Keep up the good work. JDM
The PCUSA has become a social experiment and has lost it’s way as a religious denomination.
It should come as no surprise, or even worthy of mention, that the article did not include references to Conservatives.
It’s a shame that the former moderator voiced an opinion. I know she would be free to do so. Once cannot help but wonder, however, if as moderator, she allowed her feelings to me known and thus provided direction over what was being moderated.
It is clear from her comments that she has no concern over what is happening to our denomination and certainly no concern over the individual members. The denomination today has chosen to focus on an extremely small percentage of our population at the expense of larger percentages where problems are affecting much larger bodies.
As PCUSA is today, the congregations and individual members are poorly represented. The clergy along with commissioners do necessarily vote as the congregations that sent them might have them vote. Frankly, it seems that the clergy will vote IN SPITE of the congregations.
It’s such a shame that these folks are so gleefully creating a world to address the marginalized while, at the same time, creating a larger group of outsiders.
PCUSA commissioners are not representatives of their congregation–that is why they are not called representatives; ministers (teaching elders) are not members of their congregation–they are members of the presbytery. Commissioners are called to seek the will of God as they make their decisions–not the will of the congregation. So are ministers.
To quote (in regards to cohabitation) a rather well-known theologians whom Theological Liberals incongruously claim as one of their own:
“As the law under which man was created was not to lead a life of solitude, but enjoy a help-meet for him—and ever since he fell under the curse the necessity for this mode of life is increased—the Lord made the requisite provision for us in this respect by the institution of marriage, which, entered into under his authority, he has also sanctified with his blessing. Hence, it is evident, that any mode of cohabitation different from marriage is cursed in his sight, and that the conjugal relation was ordained as a necessary means of preventing us from giving way to unbridled lust. Let us beware, therefore, of yielding to indulgence, seeing we are assured that the curse of God lies on every man and woman cohabiting without marriage.”
–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion ii.8.41
As you said, being LGBTXYZ is not an abomination to God. Acting upon those desires, is an abomination, and one that was stated in both the Old & New Testament.
Here’s a quote from a Christianity Today article:
“Even scholars who defend homosexual practice by Christians today (like Dan O. Via, John McNeill, and Walter Wink) agree that wherever the Bible refers to homosexual practice, it condemns it as contrary to God’s will.”
I’m hoping that this, along with the voting on the marriage amendment will cause some sitting on the fence to wake up. However, those with their heads in the sand, will soon realize that the sand has blown away, and they’re stuck in a mess of their own making.
Governing in spite of the majority is one effective way to blow up a denomination. It’s working well.
Thank you for sharing this quote from the Institutes. When I read this article in Presbyterians Today (despite being more ‘progressive’ than many of The Layman’s readers) I was struck, even as a progressive, about how openly condoning it seemed to be about living together outside of the covenant relationship that is marriage and some other things as well. While I do not identify as a conservative myself, I do find it very disheartening that our denominations magazine isn’t trying to include ALL voices – including conservative voices.
And one can also wonder how many other former moderators could have been quoted from a different perspective…. While I myself am someone who supports marriage equality, I am also someone who is grieved by the ostracizing of our conservative brothers and sisters. Even if I don’t agree with a conservative view point on an issue, we are ALL in a covenant relationship together under Christ and it pains me that a conservative voice wasn’t included as well. I hope my like-minded progressive brothers and sisters aren’t becoming the “bullies” we’ve long said some conservaives have been to us…. Why can’t we focus on the GOSPEL and the many things that unite us?
I think you have a very good point, Bob. Regardless of where we fall on ‘social issues,’ our primary focus should ALWAYS be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think that’s something that progressives like myself and (seemingly) conservatives like you could agree on strongly.
Even as a progressive this article went a bit overboard for me to one side (even though it’s “my side”), and I think it’s important that we give equal time or paper to all sides of an issue (if we’re going to write about an issue)—- but what would be best is to move away from a focus on these ‘social issues’ and get re-focused on the Gospel!