PCUSA’s Definition of Marriage Changed: Same-Sex Marriage is Permitted

A majority of Presbyterian Church (USA) presbyteries have voted in favor of changing the denomination’s definition of marriage

Commenting on the vote, LaBerge reaffirmed the statement of protest issued by the Lay Committee following the action of the General Assembly in June 2014 to redefine marriage. She said, “The passage of the amendment is further indication of the erosion of Biblical fidelity within the PCUSA. There is nothing new to say in response. Just as we repudiated the action of the General Assembly in issuing the Authoritative Interpretation we now stand in firm opposition to the passage of this amendment to the denomination’s constitution.”

 

A majority of Presbyterian Church (USA) presbyteries have voted in favor of changing the denomination’s definition of marriage so that same-sex weddings may be conducted by PCUSA pastors and in PCUSA churches. By the end of the day Tuesday, the vote was 87-42 in favor of Amendment 14F. (Click here for Amendment 14F vote chart.)

“In terms of the PCUSA’s witness to the world, this vote demonstrates a complete accommodation to the prevailing winds of our culture,” said Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee. “Any prophetic voice that the denomination may have once had to speak truth and call people to repentance is now lost. All she can do now is echo the voices of the world for she has abandoned the clarion call to bear faithful witness to the God who has clearly spoken on this matter.”

Three of the denomination’s 171 presbyteries voted today (3/17/15), the first being Donegal Presbytery which voted in favor of changing the definition of marriage 89-73, but it was the Presbytery of Palisades that cast the deciding vote. By voice vote, the presbytery approved the amendment. Later in the evening, West Jersey Presbytery voted 71-51 in favor of it. Nevada Presbytery does not make the docket of their meeting public on the presbytery website and it is unclear when they will vote during their two day meeting.

By approving the amendment by a majority vote, PCUSA presbyteries ratified the decision of the 2014 General Assembly to change the definition of marriage from between “a man and a woman” to “between two persons, traditionally a man and a woman,” thereby expanding same-sex marriages in the PCUSA beyond what is currently allowed through the Authoritative Interpretation (AI) issued by the same assembly. That AI already allows ministers in states where same sex marriage, to officiate at weddings for same sex couples.

The amended language establishes a clear conflict between the definition of marriage in the denomination’s Book of Confessions and its Book of Order. It will go into effect on June 21, 2015.

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