By Jeff Gissing.
I was unable to attend this weeks presbytery meeting due to illness. I had prepared remarks for the floor discussion of the marriage redefinition amendment. They are included below.
I rise to speak against the amendment offered which would redefine marriage in the Book of Order. I do so in the knowledge that the amendment has surpassed the number of presbytery affirmations required to be adopted and will become the practice of our denomination. My reason for speaking against this amendment, and in full knowledge the futility of so doing, is not simply to register my conviction regarding the nature of Christian marriage as between a man and a woman. On a larger level, it is to register my belief that–at a fundamental level–the work of pastoring and indeed the work of this presbytery is theological task. For that very reason it is important that this conversation be engaged in Lehigh Presbytery regardless of the outcome of the legitimate political process that has caused this amendment to be adopted.
When the church gathers in its council it does so in full knowledge that a variety of opinions and convictions are represented and, as a result, we have each of us, pledged to practice mutual forebearence, a pledge that I hope will extend to my comments here.
I recognize that in passing this amendment our church has attempted to preserve unity in the face of strongly opposing views. I further acknowledge that the amendment that is before us is, on a practical level, just about the only thing our church could do in order to attempt to achieve that goal. I disagree, however, on the primacy of unity over against other factors like truth.
Ultimately, this intent will not be realized.
When the church speaks of something as deep seated as our sexuality, it doesn’t do well to affirm a contradiction, or worse, to assert that we cannot agree and therefore will “decide not to decide” as Barry Ensign-George and Charles Wiley argue in their paper, “Our Challenging Way: Faithfulness, Sex, Ordination, and Marriage”.