Guest / Limited Access /

On Tuesday May 10, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined a group of mainline churches that has opened the door to gay ordination. The new PC(USA) constitutional change, which has now received the necessary votes, will officially take effect in July and is widely interpreted to allow for gay ordination. The amendment will remove constitutional language that had required clergy to live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." It appears that regional presbyteries will now have the local option of ordaining practicing homosexuals to Christian ministry. Anticipating this day, 120 PC(USA) congregations have over the last four years departed and affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. After Tuesday more Presbyterian congregations are likely to separate. And so the story of Protestant schism continues.

It didn't happen overnight. The new schism over gay ordination is the culmination of three decades of evangelicals battling the progressive tide, arguing that biblical authority is on the line. In the 1970s, Northern Presbyterians (United Presbyterian Church USA) adopted a statement that "self-affirming, practicing homosexuals" are not eligible for ordination to church office. The Southern Presbyterians (Presbyterian Church in the US) adopted a similar policy the next year. These two denominations united in 1983 to form the current PC(USA). After ongoing debates in the '80s on human sexuality, including homosexuality, in 1993 the weary Presbyterians decided to call a three year voting moratorium on issues related to the ordination of gay and lesbian members to church office.

In 1997, conservatives were able to garner enough ecclesiastical strength to push through ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueGleanings: December 2016
Subscriber Access Only Gleanings: December 2016
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our December issue).
RecommendedGlennon Doyle Melton's Gospel of Self-Fulfillment
Glennon Doyle Melton's Gospel of Self-Fulfillment
Why living your truth bravely isn't enough.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickA Journey as Old as Humanity Itself
A Journey as Old as Humanity Itself
What’s behind our timeless fascination with religious pilgrimage?
Christianity Today
The Road to Gay Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

May 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.