Presbyterians May Change Definition Of Marriage From ‘A Man And A Woman’ To ‘Two People’

172547451_ffc4d9cfdaChange.org’s Michael Jones notes that the Presbyterian Church may soon become the largest U.S. Christian denomination to permit same-sex marriage. Church leaders meeting for their national convention in Minneapolis this week are preparing to vote to change the definition of “marriage” in their “Directory for Worship” from between “a man and a woman” to between “two people.”

The vote comes after the Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage issued a report recognizing that civil unions are not equivalent to marriage and expressed concern for the children of gay families, despite marital status. The full Committee of the General Assembly voted 47-8-2 to change the definition and it will come before the full General Assembly at around 7:30pm today.

Below are some of the proposed changes:

“Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man. For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman two people are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a lifelong commitment is made by a woman and a man the couple to each other, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith.”

The document also argues that “to exclude an entire population of the church, namely same-gender couples, from the privilege of Christian marriage denies these persons the pastoral care they desire for fulfilling their service to God“:

While it has always been the case that persons authorized to conduct services of Christian marriage may not be required to marry a couple against their conscience and better judgment (Book of Order, W-4.9002b), to bind the conscience of ministers and commissioned lay pastors by forbidding them to conduct a legal marriage that they have prayerfully considered would be an unjustified interference in the exercise of pastoral care. Excluding same-gender couples from the privilege of Christian marriage where it is legally authorized undermines the peace, unity, and purity of the church. Section W-4.9000 was written and adopted before any state created the possibility of marriage between two persons of the same gender. The call of the prophets and the Word of God summon us to declare the holiness of the gift of marriage for all faithful couples, regardless of gender.

If the change is approved by the General Assembly, it will then go to the 173 regional chapters, which will consider the question over the next year. Once a majority vote in favor of the new definition, it will become part of the Presbyterian constitution. Currently, only the Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Christ, and some Quaker churches recognize same-sex marriages.