Before I start, I should probably tell you a little bit about my own faith tradition so that you know where I'm coming from. I come from a Reformed tradition theologically. I was raised in a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church. I joined this church as a teenager and have attended PCA churches my entire life until very recently. I now live in a town with no PCA church, and am actively seeking fellowship. I am primarily familiar with the PCUSA through research and speaking with friends and family members who are/have been members (in many cases, very concerned members) of PCUSA churches.
I was very sad to read in the news today that the Presbyterian Church (USA) is removing its celibacy requirement for unmarried clergy. This is being done primarily to open the way for ordination of gay clergy, but that is far from the only problem I have with this move.
First of all, the Bible clearly speaks against the homosexual lifestyle. This begins with the command in Genesis 2:24 that, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife..."(emphsis added). The Bible is clear here. Men are to become one flesh with their wives, not with some other man.
In case that wasn't clear enough, the law makes it even clearer in Leviticus. At Leviticus 18:22, it is commanded, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." And in Leviticus 20:13, the statement of law is expounded upon even further as the Jews are instructed that, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them." This doesn't seem terribly ambivalent when I read it, but apparently the PCUSA reads the Bible a little differently.
To my astonishment, I heard a radio commentator say that the New Testament does not speak to homosexuality at all. I've heard this misconception before, but it's very plainly laid out otherwise in Paul's letters, which are very much a part of the Bible. In Romans 1:26-27, Paul speaks of homosexual relations with condemnation and in 1 Corinthians 6:9 he states, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders..."
Given what Scripture has to say on the subject, I think that homosexual relationships are sinful. When the PCUSA waters down its church constitution, it is bowing to the dictates of worldly culture rather than standing up for the faith and for the teachings contained in Scripture.
However, the consequences of the new language in the Presbyterian Church (USA) constitution go beyond same-sex relationships. As the article reports, the ordination prerequisites for clergy require that they live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." Now they will only have to, "submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life." Um...squishy and vague just a bit here? Taking out this language not only paves the way for ordination of clergy who are homosexual and not chaste, but also for ordination of those who are engaged in intimate relationships outside of marriage which may involve premarital sex or adultery. These are also clearly contrary to Biblical teaching, and I find it sad that this denomination is bowing to the ways of the world rather than upholding the ways of God.
I know that this is a move that has caused great upheaval in the PCUSA church and I feel moved to pray for believers in that church. I pray that the PCUSA would examine Scripture prayerfully and turn away from what they are doing here, and I pray also that others would not be moved to stumble in their faith from seeing this example placed before them. This is a very sad day.