I'm going to tread lightly here, because our church leadership team has not yet had a chance to make an official pronouncement or decision on this subject, so please understand that what I write I write for my own self and not on behalf of any other body I am part of. But yesterday our denomination approved an amendment that overturned a requirement of ordination of celibacy in singleness or heterosexual marriage. The CNN headline: "Presbyterian Church U.S.A. to Allow Gay and Lesbian Clergy."
You know from previous writings of mine that I am for gay marriage being allowed. What I have not yet previously written about is this issue of ordaining homosexuals. On this position, I am against the amendment, and am saddened our denomination has decided to frame this issue as one of inclusion, full utilization of those who are gifted and called into leadership who happen to have a different sexual orientation, and release to those who have felt they had to keep their sexuality a secret in order to serve.
For, fundamentally, to me this is an issue of whether or not we are willing to consider ourselves people subject to the inerrancy of Bible and the authority of Jesus. There has been other discussion within this denomination along these lines, to weaken the primacy of Scripture and of the uniqueness of Jesus in our faith understanding. This particular amendment is about sexuality, and homosexuality in particular, but it is along the same lines. And if we can't uphold a certain standard for our leaders, then I fear other non-negotiables are sure to fall.
Some, both on the inside and the outside of the church, will argue that my position is hopelessly outdated, mean-spirited, and insensitive. I am sensitive to that, and wish we as a church were more empathetic to gays, as we unfortunately of all people have probably been the most vilifying and thoughtless. But even as we ought to redouble our efforts to accommodate and include people of all sexual persuasions in our ministries, relationships, and prayers, we must be able to uphold certain standards in our expectations of leaders.
I do not condemn those who voted for the amendment, or those who lobbied for its passage. I still consider us all brothers and sisters of the same faith. But, denominationally, this is an issue of basic disagreement, not just on whether homosexuals can be ordained but on what basis essential decisions are to be made. I am saddened by these differences of opinion, and of what they portend in terms of representing the Christian faith in our communities and in this country.