Calvary Presbytery Overtures the PCA 45th GA To Grant Full Constitutional Authority to BCO Chapter 59

By making BCO 59, “The Solemnization of Marriage,” fully constitutional the PCA will clearly state and affirm that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Calvary Presbytery approved an overture at its October 27, 2016 Stated Meeting, asking that the Book of Church Order (BCO) Chapter 59 dealing with the solemnization of marriage be grant full constitutional authority. The overture will be considered by the 45th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America when it meets in Greensboro, N.C., June 12-16, 2017. An overture is a means by which a Presbytery can bring a matter to the GA for consideration.

Specifically, the overture requests “the General Assembly to grant full constitutional authority to BCO 59, “The Solemnization of Marriage. Some of the reasons provided in the overture by Calvary Presbytery are:

  • “There is no statement with constitutional authority prohibiting same-sex marriage in the BCO at present;”
  • “chapter 59 of the BCO clearly states that Marriage is to be between one man and one woman, in accordance with the Word of God’ (59-3);”
  • “ministers are required to obey the civil laws of the community regarding marriage ‘to the extent that those laws do not transgress the laws of God as interpreted by the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America (59-6);”
  • chapters 56, 57 & 58 of the directory of worship already have constitutional authority;”
  • chapter 59 contains nothing touching on the conduct of worship services, or even the conduct of the marriage ceremony and its instructions regarding the nature of marriage are almost exclusively taken from the Directory for the Public Worship of God (1645);
  • “the simplest, quickest, and least expensive manner of both taking a God honoring stand on the issue of biblical marriage and protecting the PCA’s ministers and churches is to grant chapter 59 of the BCO constitutional authority”

Proposed Overture from the Calvary Presbytery
to the 45th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (2017)

Whereas, God in His Word clearly teaches that marriage is only to be between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Rom. 7:3; Prov. 2:17); and

Whereas, the nations of Canada and the United States of America, in which the vast majority of PCA congregations are located, have both taken the extraordinary and historically unprecedented step of legalizing same-sex marriage in all of their states and territories; and

Whereas, many of the nations in which PCA missionaries are active have also declared same-sex marriages to be legal; and

Whereas, the Armed Forces, in which PCA chaplains minister, have dropped their opposition to same-sex marriages and now conduct same-sex marriages on military installations and in military chapels; and

Whereas, considerable pressure is currently being exerted on churches, both socially and legally, to abandon their commitment to biblical marriage, and adopt the practice of same-sex marriage; and

Whereas, most mainline protestant denominations have already authorized the practice of same-sex marriage, and many churches, congregations, pastors and theologians who profess to be evangelical and/

or reformed have also endorsed same-sex marriage; and

Whereas, citizens and Christian organizations in the United States and Canada have already been found guilty of discrimination and subjected to considerable fines in several jurisdictions for exercising their right to refuse to take part in same-sex weddings; and

Whereas, ministers and chaplains who refuse to conduct same-sex marriages and churches that refuse to make their facilities available for these events are also likely to be subjected to lawsuits, disciplinary actions and charges of discrimination; and

Whereas, there is great need in this time of rapidly increasing sexual immorality for the church of Jesus Christ to bear prophetic witness to the teaching of the Bible regarding marriage and the right use of the good gift of human sexuality and to call the nations to repentance; and

Whereas, if we fail to take an unambiguous stand for biblical marriage at this critical point in time, it is likely that we will compromise on this issue and other issues related to human sexuality in the future; and

Whereas, our ministers, chaplains, missionaries, and churches should receive clear constitutional guidance in this matter and be able to show that the denomination that they belong to, is absolutely opposed to same-sex marriage on biblical grounds; and

Whereas, there is no statement with constitutional authority prohibiting same-sex marriage in the BCO at present; and

Whereas, chapter 59 of the BCO clearly states that “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman, in accordance with the Word of God.” (59-3) and that ministers are required to obey the civil laws of the community regarding marriage “to the extent that those laws do not transgress the laws of God as interpreted by the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America” (59-6); and

Whereas, chapters 56, 57 & 58 of the directory of worship already have constitutional authority; and

Whereas, chapter 59 contains nothing touching on the conduct of worship services, or even the conduct of the marriage ceremony and its instructions regarding the nature of marriage are almost exclusively taken from the Directory for the Public Worship of God (1645); and

Whereas, a denominational in thesi statement on the nature of marriage would be difficult, expensive, and time consuming to draft and would be of dubious value and constitutional authority; and

Whereas, the simplest, quickest, and least expensive manner of both taking a God honoring stand on the issue of biblical marriage and protecting the PCA’s ministers and churches is to grant chapter 59 of the BCO constitutional authority;

Therefore, Calvary Presbytery hereby overtures the 45th General Assembly to grant BCO Chapter 59 “The Solemnization of Marriage” full constitutional authority.