Gulfstream Presbytery Overtures PCA General Assembly to Amend Westminster Confession 24 by Adding Two Scripture Proofs

The overture requests adding two Scripture proofs to clarify that the Westminster Confession of Faith 24.4 excludes same-sex marriage.

The Gulfstream Presbytery approved an overture at its October 2016 Stated Meeting, asking that Westminster Confession of Faith 24.4 be amended by the addition of two Scripture proofs that would explicitly exclude homosexual marriage. The overture will be considered by the 45th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. The PCA General Assembly will be meeting 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 amend and strengthen the proof-texts of Westminster Confession of Faith, 24:4 [h], by the addition of Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27 to the current proof texts.” In the reasons provided with the overture Gulfstream states, “While the Presbyterian Church in America has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the Biblical Position on homosexuality, the proof-texts found in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 24, Of Marriage and Divorce, currently do not include those Scriptures which distinctly prohibit same-sex relationships.” And further, “The addition of these verses makes clear the inclusion of same-sex marriages as being among those relationships forbidden by the Word of God.”

 

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

Whereas the Bible affirms that marriage is to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6), and

Whereas the Bible states that when there is a conflict between God’s Law and human law, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), and

Whereas the Westminster Confession of Faith states, “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman” (WCF 24:1), and

Whereas the Westminster Confession of Faith states, “Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word.  Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as husband and wife” (WCF 24:4), and

Whereas the Westminster Confession of Faith includes the following proof-texts for WCF 24:4 [h]  Lev. 18:6-17, 24-30; Lev. 20:19; 1 Corinthians 5; Amos 2:7, and

Whereas the Westminster Confession of Faith 24:4 [h] does not include proof texts explicitly prohibiting same-sex marriages, and

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States in its decision regarding Obergefell v. Hodges approved same-sex marriages.

Therefore, the Gulfstream Presbytery overtures the General Assembly to amend and strengthen the proof-texts of Westminster Confession of Faith, 24:4 [h], by the addition of Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27 to the current proof texts.

Lev. 18:22. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind:  it is abomination.  Romans 1:26-27.  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Note:  Leviticus 18:22 has been omitted from the series of verses Leviticus 18:6-17, 24-30, and by its absence may be construed by some as being intentionally excluded from or considered irrelevant to the doctrine under consideration.

**[The New Proof-texts would include Lev. 18:22 and Rom. 1:26-27 with Leviticus 18:22 being included thus: Lev. 18:6-17, 22, 24-30, and Romans 1:26-27 following Amos 2:7]

Grounds:  While the Presbyterian Church in America has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the Biblical Position on homosexuality (see attached overview from The Aquila Report of July 2, 2015), the proof-texts found in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 24, Of Marriage and Divorce, currently do not include those Scriptures which distinctly prohibit same-sex relationships.  Their omission, and particularly the omission of a verse (Leviticus 18:22) that is in seriatim with verses that proceed (Leviticus 18:16-17) and follow (Leviticus 18:24-30), may be construed by some to indicate that the relationship defined in that verse is not included in the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word.

The addition of these verses makes clear the inclusion of same-sex marriages as being among those relationships forbidden by the Word of God.

The overture included a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith 24, the suggested inclusion of proof texts in a footnote under 24.4

 

The Confession of Faith
Chapter 24 Of Marriage and Divorce

 

  1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.(a)

(a)  Gen. 2:24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  Matt. 19:4–6. And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  Rom. 7:3. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.  Prov. 2:17. … which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.

  1. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife,(b) for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the church with an holy seed;c and for preventing of uncleanness.d

(b)  Gen. 2:18. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  Eph. 5:28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  1 Pet. 3:7. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

(c)  Gen. 1:28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.  Gen. 9:1. And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.  Mal. 2:15. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

  1. 1 Cor. 7:2, 9. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.… But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
  2. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent.(e) Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord.(f) And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.(g)

(e)  Heb. 13:4. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.  1 Tim. 4:3. … forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  1 Cor. 7:36–38. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.  Gen. 24:57–58. And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.

(f)  1 Cor. 7:39. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

(g)  Gen. 34:14. And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us. Ex. 34:16. And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.  2 Cor. 6:14. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  See Deut. 7:3–4; 1 Kings 11:4; Neh. 13:25–27; Mal. 2:11–12.

  1. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word.(h) Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.(i)
  2. Lev. 18:6–17, 24–30. None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.… Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God. Lev. 20:19. And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, nor of thy father’s sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.  1 Cor. 5:1. It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.  Amos 2:7.  … that pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name.

**[Note, in our Confessions, Leviticus 18:10-17, though included in the proof text references, they are not printed out, Leviticus 18:24-29, though included in the proof text references, they are not printed out.  These verses are covered by the ellipsis (. . . )]

**[The New Proof-texts would include Lev. 18:22 and Rom. 1:26-27 with Leviticus 18:22 being included in the Lev. 18:6-17, 22, 24-30,) and Romans 1:26-27 following Amos 2:7]

  1. Mark 6:18. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. Lev. 18:24–28. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you.…
  2. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.(k) In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce(l) and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.(m)

(k)  Matt. 1:18–20. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  See Deut. 22:23–24.

(l) Matt. 5:31-32.   It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

(m) Matt. 19:9.  And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Romans 7:2-3. For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

  1. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage: (n) wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their

own case.(o)

(n) Matt. 19:8-9. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 1 Cor 7:15.   But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: : but God hath called us to peace. Mat 19:6. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

(o) Deut 24:1-4. When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.