Presbyterian Church Passes Vote to Allow Openly Gay Clergy
On Tuesday, the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved Amendment 10-A, which allows openly gay men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy members. According to the denomination, the debate over ordination standards has been a struggle for much of the past three decades. In fact, a majority of the church’s regional bodies, or presbyteries, defeated a similar measure to allow openly gays in the clergy just two years ago.
To pave the way for openly gay clergy, the previous amendment containing “the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness” has been done away with. The revised amendment which was approved does not specifically mention gay clergy, but it removes the abovementioned requirement for fidelity between a man and a woman and the requirement for chastity for those who are single. This language has been replaced with emphasis on the “candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office.”
The recent decision of the Presbyterian Church (USA) follows that of several other Protestant denominations that have reversed their position on openly gay clergy. And I believe that over time, we will see even more Christian denominations following this trend of ordaining openly gay ministers. This I say not because we have some biblical mandate or precedent to do so because that is not the case. Rather, I believe it is because on several important fronts, the Christian church has allowed society to drive its agenda where the Scriptures should have. For the Bible teaches that the church is the light of the world (see Matthew 5:14-16), and not the reverse.
I also find it interesting that the Presbyterian Church (USA) removed the requirement for fidelity and chastity from its ordination standards. This should be a fundamental requirement for the clergy.
Of course, not all Presbyterians welcome the recent vote. In a church-released letter regarding the approval, it was acknowledged that, “Reactions to this change will span a wide spectrum. Some will rejoice, while others will weep.” Furthermore, it is anticipated that some congregations within the denomination will leave as a result of the vote. A smaller denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, does not ordain women or openly gay clergy.