After 33 years of debate, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to change its constitution and allow openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.
The outcome is a reversal from only two years ago, when a majority of the church’s regions, known as presbyteries, voted against ordaining openly gay candidates.
This time, 19 of the church’s 173 presbyteries switched their votes from no to yes in recent months. The Twin Cities presbytery, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul, cast the deciding vote at its meeting on Tuesday. The vote was 205 to 56, with 3 abstentions.
Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the church’s General Assembly, its highest legislative body, said in a phone interview from Minneapolis after the vote: “Everyone was civil. There was no applause, no cheering. It was just reflective of the fact that we are moving forward one other step.”
Although by the time the vote was taken in Minneapolis the outcome was expected, Presbyterian church officials said that even a few months ago they would not have predicted that the church was ready to change its policy.
“All of us are surprised,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the church’s stated clerk, its highest elected official. He attributed the turnabout in the votes to both the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the larger culture, and to church members simply wearying of the conflict.
“We’ve been having this conversation for 33 years, and some people are ready to get to the other side of this decision,” he said. “Some people are going to celebrate this day because they’ve worked for it for a long time, and some people will mourn this day because they think it’s a totally different understanding of Scripture than they have.”
This last statement is kind of appalling in light of the fact that homosexuality is condemned as a sin equal with murder and lying in the Bible. Being a faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ involves calling people to repentance to sin. The apostle Paul writes:
“I hope that going forward we can stay together and be faithful witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Paul is basically saying that some of the Christians used to live like this, but had been washed and sanctified by the Blood of Christ. Some of them were homosexuals. The Times does state: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)
The change approved on Tuesday does not mean that presbyteries must ordain gay candidates — only that they may. The wording leaves the decision open to local presbyteries, according to church officials. It says that governing bodies that consider candidates “shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”However, the PCUSA has basically opened the door to anyone who can claim to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, yet deny the authority of Scripture. Language was removed from the constitution which referred to the sanctity of marrage and the confession of sin. What's next? Pedophile clergy? Serial murderers being ordained? As long as they claim to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, I guess it's okay, according to the PCUSA's new constitutional language. If one looks at the churches that are now allowing homosexual clergy, nearly all started with the ordination of women. Churches that do not allow the ordination of women according to the clear commands of Scripture in Titus and 1 Timothy, do not seem to have this issue. I suppose apostasy has to start somewhere. Compromise in one area, and the rest will follow. May we be so bold as to continue to stick to the clear commands of Scripture. That is, repent from sin and follow Christ in faith.
Related: Following Jesus While Rejecting the Bible? Yet Another Tragedy in Mainline Protestantism by Dr. Albert Mohler