At its 2014 meeting in Detroit, Michigan, the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) overwhelmingly approved an amendment to Part 2 of the denomination's constitution, the Book of Order, that added language to the Directory for Worship which opened up the traditional definition of marriage. The proposed amendment describes marriage as “a unique relationship between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” Such proposed amendments, however, must then be voted on and approved by the appropriate majority of presbyteries across the nation in order to become ratified as church law. In the months since, people across our denomination have been engaged in conversation, discernment, and prayer on the matter.
On March 17, 2015, a majority of the 171 presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) had approved an amendment to the church’s Book of Order with the final tally showing affirmative votes from over 70% of our presbyteries.The PC(USA) becomes the largest Protestant group to formally allow for same-sex marriage churchwide. The change will become effective at the June 21, 2015, General Assembly.
I believe the change points our denomination in the same direction the Christian Church was headed when it was fresh and new. The Book of Acts tells the remarkable story of the Apostle Peter receiving a fresh new vision that distinguishes between what he had been taught about what is or isn't acceptable in God's sight and the new truth God revealed to him - a truth he later proclaimed by saying: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34). With those words, the growing spiritual movement that had sprung up around the person and teachings of Rabbi Jesus began to accept gentiles into their fellowship, and the wheel of history was forever and dramatically changed.
But this change in our constitution also marks a kind of New Beginning in the denomination, one where we can cease our divisive and resource-draining bickering over one issue on which the Bible has very little to say and focus on the scripture's frequent attention to the ills and evils that plague humanity, such as poverty, inhospitality, and greed.