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Covenant Networks plans to go around back if they can’t redefine marriage directly

A slide from Saperstein's presentation at the Covenant Network Regional Conference. (http://prezi.com/czftmvflrhvf/marriage-equality-in-the-pcusa/)

A slide from Saperstein’s presentation at the Covenant Network Regional Conference. (http://prezi.com/czftmvflrhvf/marriage-equality-in-the-pcusa/)

Introducing another backdoor approach for Presbyterians to perform gay marriages.

Everyone expects to see and contend with efforts at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in 2014 to redefine marriage.  So, proponents plan to insure their victory by back door means.

Its political strategy 101: If the opposition is watching the front door, go around to the back. Apparently advocates of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) agenda fear that efforts at an honest, straight-forward redefinition  of marriage in the PCUSA Constitution through amending the confessions and Directory for Worship may fail at GA. So, they’ve announced plans to go around back.

The language is that of “creating a space” which is another way of saying they intend to create a loophole which officers of the PCUSA could perform same-sex marriages in PCUSA churches.

Pay attention because you won’t actually hear the word marriage in what is proposed.

The amendment to the constitution would read, “Teaching elders, and ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service, shall have the freedom to exercise discretion regarding the conduct of worship as pastoral care except where explicitly proscribed in this constitution.”

Would that kind of language pass as an overture at General Assembly and be forwarded to the presbyteries for a vote? Most likely yes. And would it pass in your presbytery and a majority of others, again the answer is likely yes.

It sounds like it’s about pastoral care but it’s really about same-sex marriage. Read the quote in its context and the speech it came from:

“Do not seek to amend W-4.9001 on the definition of marriage. Rather amend W-1.4005a on rights of the pastor as worship leader by adding the following (or similar) provision:

“Teaching elders, and ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service, shall have the freedom to exercise discretion regarding the conduct of worship as pastoral care except where explicitly proscribed in this Constitution. The exercise of this freedom may not infringe on the session’s responsibility to control the use of church facilities and to authorize the celebration of the sacraments, or the presbytery’s responsibility to validate and oversee the ministry of the Word and sacrament.”

“Do you see the words ‘same-sex’ or even ‘marriage’ in this overture? No. It is not about that, although it would create a space in most presbyteries to allow same-sex marriages to be performed under the protections it guarantees. There is careful language that I have vetted with some of my colleagues that would overturn existing AIs from 1991 and after. It does preserve the right of a session to refuse to allow its facilities to be used for purposes with which it disagrees, but that is properly their right anyway. It also preserves the rights of presbyteries that want to be obstructive to address the conduct of individual ministers under their jurisdiction, but it would take an enormous investment of time and money to try multiple cases. The overture means that obstruction can only happen on a case-by-case basis or by adopting specific amendments to take away pastoral freedoms, which will be a hard sell in my opinion.”

Quote from “Marriage equality in the PCUSA,” by the Rev. Dr. Daniel M. Saperstein, Covenant Network Regional Conference

It would seem that the Covenant Network which was organized for the sole purpose of stripping the “fidelity and chastity” standard historically known as G-6.0106b from the Constitution now has the redefinition of marriage by any means necessary planned for the the 2014 PCUSA General Assembly.

Below is the Prezi  presentation from Daniel Saperstein’s “Marriage equality in the PCUSA: Biblical, theological and constitutional perspectives,” given at the Covenant Network Regional Conference.

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Carmen Fowler LaBerge