I always appreciate the thoughtfulness and thoroughness which Alan Wisdom brings to his analyses. His analysis of the marriage study paper is no exception. However, I wonder if he missed one thing.
That one thing is found in the introduction to this study which lays the groundwork and approach to the study for the churches who choose to use this. It’s found at page ix and says:
… the PCUSA now has no constitutional stance regarding the sinfulness of faithfulness of sexual relationship between persons of the same gender.
Therefore, as the PCUSA now considers same-gender marriage, we do so in the absence of any official guidance concerning our understanding of God’s will for the committed relationships of persons who are gay or lesbian. [My emphasis.]
Apparently the authors do not consider the confessions to be constitutional. And they are willing to ignore the Book of Order description of the authority of Scripture. This is in concert with the advice given to the last GA by Paul Hooker of the ACC and accepted by the stated clerk, the moderator and the GA itself.
Is it, therefore, really a surprise that the conclusions never get to any point? Those without any “official guidance concerning our understanding of God’s will” make the church pointless.
James R. Tony
PS: Here are some Form of Government references nullified by the above interpretation:
F-2.01 The Presbyterian Church (USA) states its faith and bears witness to God’s grace in Jesus Christ in the creeds and confessions in The Book of Confessions. In these statements the church declares to its members and to the world who and what it is, what it believes, and what it resolves to do.
F-2.02 While confessional standards are subordinate to the Scriptures, they are, nonetheless, standards. They are not lightly drawn up or subscribed to, nor may they be ignored or dismissed.
F-3.0104 And that no opinion can either be more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man’s opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.
G-2.0105 It is to be recognized, however, that in entering the ordered ministries of the Presbyterian Church (USA), one chooses to exercise freedom of conscience within certain bounds. His or her conscience is captive to the Word of God as interpreted in the standards of the church so long as he or she continues to seek, or serve in, ordered ministry.