Friday, June 27, 2008


About 10 years ago a friend of mine said he hated when General Assembly came around because he always ended up having to answer questions from outraged members. Well this year is going to be a biggy. I can't wait until my members find out what happened at GA.

Let's see, the GA voted to:

1. Reverse the Authoritative Interpretation of 1978-79 that said homosexual sexual behavior was sinful;

2. Approve an Authoritative Interpretation that overturns the GAPJC ruling to basically say that if a presbytery decides that sinful behavior is not a bar to ordination then no one can overrule the presbytery;

3. Ask presbyteries to amend the constitution to remove section G-6.0106b from the constitution which requires those being ordained to be faithful in marriage or chaste in singleness; and

4. I'm told that I got item # 4 wrong. I'll post another blog on it when I find out what the real facts are

The PCUSA and its former denominations have been fighting about homosexuality since before I was ordained in 1979. That's 33 years, friends. I'm tired of the conversation, to say nothing of the rancor, accusations of homophobia and refusal to obey the Scriptures. Sometimes I think those leaving have the right idea. I would be so glad to be in a denomination that didn't have these fights.

But. I believe in the doctrine of the covenant. God put me in the PCUSA and I am part of the covenant. The covenant has not been broken. I still can preach the true gospel. No one prevents me from doing that. In fact I believe that in most PCUSA congregations around the country the true gospel is still being preached. Some pastors may be wrong on some issues like homosexuality, (I'm right, of course), but the true gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ who died and rose for our sins, the true gospel of Jesus the divine/human Son of the Father is preached almost everywhere.

Further, so far no one is trying to force me to do something that goes against my conscience. My suspicious side says that if the presbyteries vote to approve the amendment that deletes G-6.0106b sooner or later there will be another amendment that says I am required to ordain people who have sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman. When that day comes I will have to leave. Maybe I'll be fortunate and it will happen after I retire.

Now, a little something to tick off those who disagree with me. If this amendment passes does this mean I can ordain someone who is heterosexual and and lives with and has a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex? How about someone who commits adultery? Or someone who has 10 wives like those people on that ranch down in Texas? I know, those who disagree with me don't like to talk about this. The message is that we are only talking about homosexual couples who make lifelong commitments. But the truth in America and in the Christian community is that the discussion has gone beyond homosexual couples. Those who live in polygamous relationships are asking why is homosexual behavior fine but their behavior isn't? And seminary professors are saying that fidelity is for the heterosexual community, not the homosexual community, (some professor in Bangor Seminary). Yes, I'm using the slippery slope argument. But the slope is there.

So this coming January I will stand up in Philadelphia Presbytery and argue that G-6.0106b is based on the Bible. I will argue that homosexual sexual behavior is wrong according to the Bible as is heterosexual sexual behavior outside of marriage. I will not hate the people who disagree with me. As a matter of fact some of them are my best friends! And I do not hate those who have sex outside of heterosexual marriage. After all, some of my beloved relatives do this. Saying you are wrong is not hateful. It is, in fact, loving if said in a loving manner.

But tonight I grieve for my beloved PCUSA. Here we go again. I think a verse from "The Church's One Foundation says it best:

        Though with a scornful wonder
we see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

May the morn of song come soon because tonight
is a night of weeping.

Pastor Bob

P.S. The Church fought for over 150 years about the doctrine
of the Trinity which is
much more important than this. I won't live
150 years but I will fight while I


robert austell said...

strike #4... several sources provided wrong information... an amendment changed the motion

robert austell said...

I didn't mean to pass over your discouragement... I share it.. but am trying to correct that point before it gets spread around too much.

Pastor Bob said...

Interesting. I don't remember if I got that info from the Outlook or the GA News. Will change the blog.

Reyes-Chow said...

I just stumbled upon this blog. What was #4? Inquiring minds and all that. And bob, thanks for some very thoughtful posts. - Bruce