On “Christian Marriage” at this year’s General Assembly

In the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Book of Confessions, the Westminster Confession of Faith (6.131) states:


“Christian marriage is an institution ordained of God, blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ, established and sanctified for the happiness and welfare of mankind, into which spiritual and physical union one man and one woman enter, cherishing a mutual esteem and love, bearing with each other’s infirmities and weaknesses, comforting each other in trouble, providing in honesty and industry for each other and for their household, praying for each other, and living together the length of their days as heirs of the grace of life.”


Next week, into the month of July, the 220th General Assembly will consider if the definition of marriage defended by Jesus in Matthew 19 and Mark 10, expressed in our Confessions, and stated in the Directory for Worship in the Book of Order, stands in the PC(USA). Four overtures are seeking to change the wording in the Directory for Worship from “man and woman” to “two people.” Six overtures are calling for authoritative interpretations that would allow for “same-sex marriages”. (An authoritative interpretation can be adopted by a simple majority of one assembly and would not require ratification from/by the presbyteries.) Three overtures have been submitted toward affirming and strengthening the current definition of marriage. (1)

For those among us who may currently express more conservative, evangelical convictions of faith, these are challenging times. In the so-called mainline denominations within the tradition(s) of western Christianity, we are being affected by an increasingly progressive postmodern cultural context that, in our continually unfolding experience, threatens the undoing of the established institutions we have grown up with and have come to appreciatively esteem through generations past. While we continue to espouse the reformation’s cry of reformata et semper reformanda—reformed and always reforming—we wonder and ask if the following qualifier “according to the Word of God” continues to be applicable as we are encouraged in our commitment to submit ourselves to always “being reformed”.

As you might imagine, in the aftermath of losing my spouse to cancer and now being a single parent of six, the issues concerning the subject of this article bear profound significance for me personally in my family’s and my own journey of faith. And as a pastor called to help empower and equip leadership in the church for the shelter, nurture and spiritual fellowship of the children of God, I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to pray with even greater zeal and fervor in the Lord for the welfare of our community.

In a recent committee meeting of your leaders, we discerned the Lord calling us to gather at the service this Sunday morning together as a congregation for a conversation regarding the current state of our denomination, sharing with one another questions and sentiments surrounding the issues before this year’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). May the Lord lead us in our continuing conversations and deliberations, for the glory of God in Christ,

Pastor Rex


Outlook Forum: Marriage: A covenant among God, a man, and a woman


TRACIE MAYES STEWART is associate pastor of Lake Murray Presbyterian Church in Chapin, S.C. BILL TENG is pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Va. LISA COOPER VAN RIPER is an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C.

~ by prayersForMelissa on June 21, 2012.

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