Presbyterians Today (PT) is openly advocating that people look for love in all the wrong places.
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.