By Becca Habegger, WBIR.com (Tennessee)
One national Christian denomination is taking up the issue of same-sex marriage.
The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination – the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or PC(USA) – is asking representatives from each of its more than 170 presbyteries to vote on the matter.
The proposed change comes in the form of an amendment to the denomination’s constitution.
Currently, the PC(USA)’s constitution defines marriage as “a civil contract between a woman and a man.”
The proposed amendment would change the wording to say, “Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.”
The Presbytery of Middle Tennessee voted this past weekend in favor of the amendment. The state’s northeastern most presbytery — Holston Presbytery in Kingsport — voted against the amendment. The state’s other two presbyteries — Memphis and East Tennessee — have not yet voted.
The Presbytery of East Tennessee will vote on the amendment at its Feb. 21 meeting in Chattanooga.
The Rev. Dr. Emily Anderson is senior pastor at New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville. While talking with WBIR on Wednesday evening, Anderson declined to share her personal view on the matter but said she sees opinions on both sides of the issue within her church of some 1,200 parishioners.
“I think, basically, it comes down to: how do you interpret scripture,” Anderson said.
“Folks who are opposed to same-sex marriage will point to particular scriptures and say, ‘Look, here, this says man and woman,'” Anderson said. “Folks who are supportive of same-sex marriage would look at the whole witness of scripture and, particularly, at the life of Jesus, who didn’t put any boundaries or restrictions on anyone.”
The Rev. Dr. Holton Siegling Jr. is pastor at Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church in West Knoxville. He said he is against the proposed amendment.
“In the case of marriage, God’s Word is simply not ambiguous; Christ himself affirms marriage as that most blessed union which exists between a man and a woman,” Siegling wrote in an email response to WBIR. He was not available Wednesday evening for an in-person interview but responded to questions about the issue.