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Same Gender Marriage

Same Gender Marriage

Christianity and Same-Sex Marriage Reflection Process

In 2015 our church undertook a deliberate time of reflection and discernment leading to a Sessional decision in September of that year. Here is the record of that process.

A four-week class was held in the spring of 2015 as Ruling Elders explored same-sex marriage and homosexuality in the Christian/Reformed Tradition.

April 12 — Why now? — The current context
What is and isn’t at stake?
Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture
Leaders: Rev. Dr. Steve Eason and Rev. Dr. Millie Snyder
Video recording of presentation
Handout: Overview of Current Context
Handout: What the Bible says about Slavery, Divorce, Adultery, and the Role of Women
Handout: Five Positions on Biblical Inspiration
Handout: Seven Guidelines for Interpreting Scripture

April 19 — Interpreting eight biblical passages on homosexuality
Leaders: Rev. Dr. Von Clemans & Rev. Michelle Thomas-Bush
Video recording of presentation
Handout: Eight Bible passages / Seven Guidelines for interpreting Scripture

April 26 — No Class — Farewell to Steve Eason

May 3 — Christian marriage in biblical and social context
Leaders: Rev. Julie Hester & Rev. Derek Macleod
Video recording of presentation
Marriage Matters–video presentation on same gender marriage by Rev. Chip Hardwick

May 10 — Conversations — an exercise in listening to one another as we seek the will of God together
Leader: Rev. Dr. Deborah Conner

September 15Same-Sex Testimony video (~90 minutes)
Two Presbyterian ministers share their their testimony, their journey and conclusions, regarding same-sex marriage. Rev. Dr. Sid Batts, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC, and Rev. Dr. Brad Smith, pastor of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC, are presenters for this evening hosted by Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

September 28 — The Session voted to adopt changes to the church’s wedding policy allowing same-sex couples to be married on our premises, subject to the same requirements as traditional couples. A letter was mailed to the congregation explaining the changes.

On March 17, 2015, a majority of Presbyteries approved an amendment to the PC(U.S.A.) constitution. The Amendment took effect on June 21, 2015. The change to W-4.9000 states the Church’s understanding of marriage:

…Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives…

and sets forth the circumstances and conditions under which a teaching elder (minister) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would be authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording of the marriage contract if the couple wishing to marry meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction. The session has the authority to permit or deny the use of the church property for a marriage service.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling stating that “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.”

Our Session undertook a process of study and decided to change our church wedding policy to allow same-gender marriages.

For those interested in exploring this matter, here are some useful links (key resources are * starred):

Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement — how do we seek God’s unity in the midst of discord?

* Myers Park Presbyterian Church context for same-sex marriage discusion (revised June 26, 2015)

Denomination Resources on Marriage
* Sexuality and Same-Gender Relationships (July ’15 overview of denominational position)
PCUSA statement (FAQ) Supreme Court ruling: Obergefell v.Hodges
* Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage — final report of 2008 PC(USA) study; includes historical, biblical, and theological overview, and a minority report
* Minority Report (only) from Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage
Christian Marriage in the Presbyterian Church — six session study
Christian Marriage in the Presbyterian Church — two session study
FAQ on Same Gender Marriage
Our Challenging Way: Faithfulness, Sex, Ordination, and Marriage — why this approach?

Presbyterian related news outlets and resources
Presbyterian Layman — Opposes same-sex marriage
Presbyterian Outlook — Balanced analysis and reporting across the Church
Covenant Network — Advocates for same-sex marriage
Fellowship Community — evangelical focus while remaining in the PC(USA)

PC(USA) Constitutional Amendments
Marriage Amendment full text

Same-sex marriage in North Carolina
Wikipedia entry with historical overview

Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court ruling (summary) on same-sex marriages 6/26/15

Other Resources
Website of Dr. Robert Gagnon, (opponent) Associate Professor of New Testament Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Website of Dr. Jack Rogers, (proponent) Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001)
Jack Rogers, Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, Revised and Expanded Edition, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009)