The Kiskiminetas Presbytery approved an overture seeking to change the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s definition of marriage to once again reflect that marriage is between “one man and one woman.” That definition was changed March 17 of this year when a majority of PCUSA presbyteries ratified the vote of the 221st General Assembly (2014) to change the definition of marriage to be between two people. The new definition went into effect on June 21, 2015. The overture – approved by a 49-37 vote at the presbytery’s Sept. 8 meeting – reads:
Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between one man and one woman to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The couple is called to live out the sacrificial love modeled for us by Jesus Christ as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community. In civil law, marriage is a contract that recognizes the rights and obligations of the married couple in society. In the Reformed tradition, marriage is also a covenant in which God has an active part and which the community of faith publicly witnesses and acknowledges … Read the entire overture here.
Before it can be considered by the 222nd General Assembly, however, another PCUSA presbytery must also vote to approve – or concur – with the overture. The deadline for a concurrence is February 19, 2016, 120 days prior to the General Assembly which will meet June 18-25, 2016 in Portland, Ore.
The overture was sent to Kiskiminetas Presbytery by nine churches: Bethel Presbyterian Church, Blairsville United Presbyterian Church, Clymer Presbyterian Church, Harmony United Presbyterian Church, Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church of Plumville, Rochester Mills Presbyterian Church, St. Benedict Presbyterian Church and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.
The overture’s rationale states, “When we fail to seek Christ’s direction we are subject to the direction of the culture in which we reside and therefore can make errors in our judgment failing to glorify Jesus Christ in whom we seek to serve first and foremost.”
When the PCUSA voted to amend the definition of marriage found at W-4.9000 in the denomination’s Book of Order, “there was no Biblical background given for its consideration and then its passing.
The rationale offered for the most recent revision to the definition of marriage referred mainly to society’s views and civil legality, not what is in Scripture and the Confessions,” states the overture’s rationale.
The rationale continues that Scripture not only calls the act of homosexuality a sin, it also “consistently describes marriage as between a man and a woman, from Genesis 1:26-31 to Mark 10:6-9, where Jesus Himself describes marriage. No place does it define it any other way other than the relationship between Christ and His Church.”
“While we understand and acknowledge that all are sinners and laws like those for divorce are permitted to deal with sin they certainly are not celebrated within our congregations. So must it be with homosexual behavior. While we as humans may feel compassion to those who are treated differently based on their sexual orientation, we are called to follow the instructions from Scripture and the teachings of Christ in those Scriptures. Therefore, while we all sin, we are called to repent as we seek to become more Christ-like. We are also called not to judge the behavior of others as we are all sinners and all sin is equally wrong in the eyes of God. So we seek to include all people, regardless of sexual orientation, but continue to teach the Word of God that all may be saved and called to a life obedient in Christ.”
The rationale also addresses today’s society and culture, saying that while it “continues to expand acceptance of same-sex marriage, Christ’s Church is called to follow His teachings.”