The proposed amendments give clear constitutional authority for Side B Christians (gay but celibate) to be office holders in the PCA. The present BCO without these changes does not give this position any constitutional status…My Presbytery (Westminster) has stated clearly in a statement on “Conflict Resolution” that Side B Christians are not eligible to hold office in our Presbytery.
I’ve already received from the Stated Clerk of my Presbytery the proposed changes to the Book of Church Order (BCO) approved at the 48th PCA General Assembly. We meet in a few days as a Presbytery, but probably will set another time for their consideration.
When I first read the proposed amendments on homosexuality and office holding, shortly after the General Assembly, I was ready to argue on the floor of Presbytery for their passage. However, since that time, I have had a change of mind.
I still hold to the position that even though such men are welcome in the church as members, they should not serve as officers because they are not “above reproach.” With all due compassion for the plight of my brothers in Christ, I must not be so moved by my sympathy that in effect I will contradict the Word of God. Although my position seems to be harsh to many others in the PCA, in the long-run I am convinced that the approval of these changes will only harm the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ because it contradicts God’s will.
These proposed changes will amend the BCO in order to allow men in the PCA who identify as homosexuals (gay or SSA) Christians to hold office or be ordained as elders and deacons. The language provides much caution about the approach of each Presbytery or Session, but in the end, it makes the ordination of such men constitutional in the PCA. The proposed changes say that the identity of such men “must not undermine or contradict(s) their identity as new creations in Christ.” He must be known by the work of the Holy Spirit more than “his reputation or his self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness.”
If the officer or candidate believes that his homosexual desires are just like blindness, something he was born with and can do nothing about, then I would think the qualifying statements in the proposed amendments would disallow such a person from office. However, with a change of phraseology to meet the demands of the new amendments, I don’t think either elders or deacons (or candidates) will have a problem with this one rather clear restriction.
Thus, I am conscience bound, as a PCA teaching elder, to oppose the proposed amendments. Consider also the follow.
- The proposed amendments give clear constitutional authority for Side B Christians (gay but celibate) to be office holders in the PCA. The present BCO without these changes does not give this position any constitutional status.
- My Presbytery (Westminster) has stated clearly in a statement on “Conflict Resolution” that Side B Christians are not eligible to hold office in our Presbytery.
- If these changes are adopted, then my Presbytery could face judicial charges because we will be out of accord with the Constitution of the PCA.
- That the intent of the proposed changes to allow Side B Christians to serve as officers should not be doubted. The language was crafted specifically for this purpose.
- The Chairman of the Overtures Committee made this clear during his report at the General Assembly when he stated that these proposed changes “is not to exclude Christians who are gay but remain celibate.” This parallels the “Report of the Ad-interim Committee on Human Sexuality” under “Biblical Perspective for Pastoral Care – Discipleship, Identity and Terminology” and subsection “Singleness, Friendship, and Community,” on page 31, which says that, “Insofar as such persons display the requisite Christian maturity, we do not consider this sin struggle to automatically disqualify someone from leadership in the church.”
- In an article on The Aquila Report (July 26, 2021) titled “The Definitive Meaning of Overture 23 Approved by the PCA GA,” (where the writer called his own title a joke), the author argues for the same conclusion. However, he concludes that if the language is vague, then it is probably better to vote against it. I personally do not consider the language vague. The problem is that the language is too clear.
- I have heard much praise for the Human Sexuality Report, but I have yet to hear one respected leader (even on what some call the conservative or confessional side) in the PCA publicly oppose the ordination of Side B Christians. Maybe they are out there, but I have not heard them.
- This is a not a sin-struggle issue. It is an ordination issue.
- This explicitly changes the original intent of Constitution of the PCA as conceived by the founders of our Church. They would have been appalled even by this discussion. These changes add poison to the water. Let’s leave the BCO alone rather than add these amendments. Better a fish bowl with water only, than one with a dead fish in it.
If the amendments do not pass, then at least I can fall back on the present BCO which does not sanction Side B Christians as officers. Further, the General Assembly will have another opportunity to consider and approve wording that would clearly exclude any Side B inferences. If they do pass, then the result will be to make it clearly constitutional that these men can serve as officers in the PCA. I prefer the former to the latter. I cannot vote for these changes.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.