Last week, the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) officially amended its constitution to expand marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” The decades-long battle inside the largest Presbyterian denomination to allow homosexual marriage may have received “amens!” from gay marriage advocates outside the church and wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who warn the move is contrary to the faith. In either case, the significant shift from what was once one of the most influential mainline denominations should hardly draw yawns of indifference.
Of the remaining faithful inside the PCUSA, and yes there are a few, the conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee stated: “The General Assembly has committed an express repudiation of the Bible, the mutually agreed upon Confessions of the PCUSA, thousands of years of faithfulness to God’s clear commands and the denominational ordination vows of each concurring commissioner.”
So what are the implications of a once orthodox church caving to prevailing culture trends? And why should anyone care?
Christianity’s premise is that there is a God who created all things, including a moral framework by which human conduct is bound. Rejection of the boundary and moral framework brought sin and pain and suffering into the world and necessitated a Savior to rescue people and set things right again. This great Act of Mercy and Love is something Christendom will soon celebrate. It’s called Easter.
Many are all too willing to accept the Christian ideals of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness but quickly reject ideals of moral absolutes, righteousness, and judgment. Gentle Jesus meek and mild is in. Not so much the God of Judgment and owning up to our own offense against a Holy God. That theology doesn’t sell well in our 21st century consumer-based marketplace of spirituality. Offended by the teaching at one church? There’s another one down the road that will accommodate you. Such is the path to diminishing influence and a church’s ultimate irrelevancy may be marked by the degree in which it rejects orthodoxy.
Yet, Christianity has left an indelible mark on our nation and Christian symbolism is deeply imbedded in the public square. Deeper still are the principles undergirding our conduct and relationships—including marriage. Our forbears made great deposits into our society in the realm of law, government, education, arts and sciences. The Golden Rule was once embraced. And Micah’s admonition to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God, practiced.
If our post-Christian society is drawing on the moral and ethical deposits made since colonial times, then the PCUSA’s move to bless relationships forbidden in Scripture is the equivalence of a bounced a check.
The PCUSA denomination, headquartered in Louisville, has lost 37 percent of its members since the mid-90’s, largely because of rejection of Biblical standards. It is expected to see another exodus, not to some kind of promised land of greater influence for righteousness sake, but to a footnote in history relegated to churches that cave to cultural fancies instead of promoting timeless principles.