Presbyterian Church (USA) comes out in support of same-sex marriage

Last week the Presbyterian Church (USA) became the largest Protestant group to formally support same-sex marriage. The denomination altered their description of marriage in their constitution (Book of Order) as a result. On Tuesday, March 17, the Palisades Presbytery in New Jersey became the crucial 86th of the denomination’s 171 region districts to to vote in favor of amending PC(USA)’s Book of Order to reflect their new position on same-sex marriage.

This new amendment has been in the works since June 2014 when PC(USA) voted by an overwhelming majority to allow pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal. Shortly after this vote passed, PC(USA) began the process to change their articulation of marriage in their Book of Order and set in place a year-long vote for the denomination’s presbyteries to approve this action.

Now, nine months later, the PC(USA)’s Book of Order defines marriage as “a gift God has given to all humankind for the wellbeing of the entire human family … a unique commitment between two people.” The statement acknowledges that marriage includes “traditionally a man and a woman” but does not limit it to that arrangement.

This differs greatly from its previous phrasing, which emphasized the “lifelong commitment … made by a woman and a man to each other.”

The PC(USA), because of this new formal change, has joined the ranks of the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and several other religious groups in support of same-sex marriage.

The debate of whether to support same-sex marriage or not has been long and controversial for many of these religious groups, especially since many of the largest religious institutions have remained strongly against the support of same-sex marriage, including the Roman Catholic Church and United Methodist Church.

The Christian Reformed Church (CRC) is another religious organization that has remained opposed to same-sex marriage. The CRC’s position is that marriage “is a covenant relationship established by mutual vows between a man and a woman united by God.”

Even though the CRC does not support same-sex marriage as the PC(USA) does, it believes, along with many other religious organizations that are against same-sex marriage, that homosexual Christians should still be wholeheartedly received and welcomed by the church and have every opportunity to serve in the offices of the church.