By Charles B. “Chip” Hardwick, director of the PCUSA’s Theology, Worship and Education. Comings and Goings blog.
Yesterday (11/15/15) I had the chance to preach and teach at Southminster Presbyterian Church in my hometown of Dayton, OH. I was glad to spend some time with family between events at the church. (See picture below, left, of the creek in my dad’s yard…there is no place like home!) I preached about stewardship on Thank Offering Sunday, which supports ministry partners of the national Presbyterian Women organization.
What I want to write about today, though, is the presentation I gave in the afternoon to a group who have been spending six weeks covering issues of sexual integrity, in particular in respect to the LGBT community. They invited me to talk about gay marriage and ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). It gave me a chance to revisit an important paper that two of my colleagues from the Office of Theology and Worship (Charles Wiley and Barry Ensign-George) wrote after the denomination changed its standards on marriage from “a man and a woman” to “a couple, traditionally a man and a woman.” Click here to read this paper, called “Our Challenging Way.”
People often think about the PCUSA as an affirming denomination in terms of LBGT issues. In actuality, it is more complicated than that. What Charles and Barry talk about in the paper, and what we in the class discussed, is that as a denomination we have chosen to take out any condemnation of same gender relationships in our Book of Order and its authoritative interpretations, but we have not replaced them with affirmative statements.
That means that within the Presbyterian Church, it is a completely faithful position to believe that God calls same gender sexual relationships sinful. It is also a completely faithful position to believe that God blesses these relationships. Both are equally legitimate, …
[Editor’s note: The Presbyterian Lay Committee continues to adhere to, uphold and advocate the Christian worldview that fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman and chastity in singleness is God’s best for human beings. Our posting of articles and blogs containing different beliefs is a part of our ongoing effort to inform and equip Christians to understand and engage meaningfully in the issues of the day. Journalistic coverage should not be misunderstood as agreement with the views expressed herein.]