The Word Became Irrelevant (2 of 2)

I will here argue that the recent debate regarding same-gender marriage has ushered in a new stage of Biblical unfaithfulness that is so radical that it couldn’t be predicted by even the most perceptive of observers in the very recent past.

In 2008 the Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts posted the following paragraph on his blog.

For more than thirty years, I have been involved in discussions of homosexuality and ordination. In the early years of this conversation, there was lots of debate about the meaning of biblical texts that deal with homosexual behavior. There seemed to be a common assumption among the debaters that biblical teaching, if rightly understood, should be binding on the church. But, in the last decade, as folks who oppose gay ordination have kept talking about specific biblical texts, those on the other side have mostly stopped this conversation. I haven’t heard one proponent of gay ordination say: “If it can be shown that the Bible truly regards all homosexual behavior as sinful, then I will change my mind and oppose it.” Rather, I have heard many say, in effect, “Whatever the Bible might teach about homosexuality, I am convinced that homosexuality is not always wrong. So, given this conviction, the biblical call to love and justice means that I will support gay ordination, no matter what the Bible might actually say about homosexuality.” Notice that this position is still based, to an extent, on Scripture and its authority. But the individual interpreter assumes the freedom to decide which portions of the Bible are inspired and which are not.

And so, a mere six years later, we find the Rev. Roberts description of Scripture’s use by supporters of same-gender marriage to be hopelessly out of date. For, it’s no longer the case that Scripture is interpreted with “the freedom to decide which portions of the Bible are inspired and which are not.” No, based on the Rationale record provided by Presbyteries in support of same-gender marriage, Scripture itself is found to be utterly irrelevant to their deliberations.

Let’s review the facts:

  • Less than half (46.7%) of Presbytery Rationales in support of same-gender marriage even once mentioned the Bible or Scripture
  • Across the entire 24,000 word Rationale record I can find only three direct references to Scripture (i.e., text with chapter and verse)
    • Two references to Hosea 2:14–23 (Presbytery of Albany and Presbytery of National Capital), both in virtually identically worded statements
    • The above discussed quote of Gal. 3:27–29 by the Presbytery of New York City, in which they attributed a Scriptural statement by the Apostle Paul to Jesus Christ
  • If Scripture is only quoted with reference three times, then what is the common nature of Rationale text in which Bible or Scripture is used? It is the authors telling us what they believe Scripture to teach, often in the most general and/or selective terms, without the slightest attempt at demonstration other than an occasional claim of guidance by the Holy Spirit.

That this represents the product of a serious study of Scripture strains my credulity beyond its breaking point.

I conclude that what we have in the same-gender marriage Rationale record is nothing less than a postmodern Christian declaration of independence from Scripture. That is, having finally achieved a clear majority in PCUSA governance, they have, by a clear and complete disregard for Scripture, declared their independence from its testimony and authority. What stands in Scripture’s place is now whatever they decide to believe and conclude can be pushed through the PCUSA’s polity.

It’s often difficult to accept conclusions such as the above because they fall so far beyond what are assumed to be the boundaries of the possible. However, if we review again the beliefs of postmodern Christians (see “Postmodernism and Christianity,” HONORING CHRIST IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS) it becomes clear that the boundaries of the possible have been extended to where this conclusion is entirely credible.

  • “The traditional coherent presentation of the orthodox system of belief, developed through the centuries, based on deductive reasoning and the interaction of the Bible, have to give way to relativistic theology (Guarino 1993: 37-40). Relativistic theology appears to be the theology of liberation and numerous socio-political systems. The core Christian message is no longer normative; instead, truth is subjective and relevant only to the culture and society of the day (Grenz 2001: 40).”
  • “Foundationalism seems to be replaced by nihilism (Nietzsche 1968:1). Christian foundation such as scripture, creeds and confessions, and ecclesiastical traditions appear to be no longer meaningful. Biblical text cannot be understood with certainty since the “postmodern condition” concerning the theory and practice of interpretation is “incredulity towards meaning” (Lyotard1984: xxiii).”
  • “The concept of truth, including biblical truth, seems to have no correspondence to objective reality (Moreland 2004: np). Hence, the search for truth appears to be a vain exercise and the reader should be content with individual/personal interpretation. Systematic theology should be replaced by “edifying” theology, which aims at a continuing conversation between the reader and scriptures, rather than discovering truth.”

Perhaps those in this position of presumed power consider themselves to be at the cutting edge of religious thought, elite carriers of a new and marvelous idea. If so, they would be wrong. I conclude this section with the words of John Calvin from his Institutes of the Christian Religion, written five centuries ago.

“Furthermore, those who, having forsaken Scripture, imagine some way or other of reaching God, ought to be thought of as not so much gripped by error as carried away with frenzy. For of late, certain giddy men have arisen who, with great haughtiness exalting the teaching office of the Spirit, despise all reading and laugh at the simplicity of those who, as they express it, still follow the dead and killing letter.”

The Word Became Irrelevant (1 of 2)

The interpretation of Scripture has been an issue of controversy ever since the Biblical canon was formed. The church found itself rocked by a myriad of interpretations, often directly contradictory to one another. Major instances of this issue include the Arian controversy (fourth century), St. Augustine’s conflict with Pelagianism (fifth century), the Reformation (sixteenth century) and the fundamentalist–modernist controversy (twentieth century).

The various strands of Christianity have dealt with this problem in different ways. For example, the Catholic Church reserved for itself the responsibility of Scriptural interpretation. The Reformation, with its focus on Sola scriptura and the accessibility of Scripture, encouraged personal study and application of the Bible. However, this openness to personal study of Scripture caused a major problem, that being how to create and maintain a common standard for Biblical interpretation. The primary answer for this problem in the Reformed tradition was the adoption of Confessional standards.

The Book of Confessions, which is the first part of the PCUSA’s constitution (the second part is the Book of Order), defines a confession as follows.

…a confession of faith is an officially adopted statement that spells out a church’s understanding of the meaning and implications of the one basic confession of the lordship of Christ.

The Book of Confessions goes on to enumerate the primary purposes of the confessions, those being.

  1. Worship. Like the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, some creeds and confessions have been used as acts of worship in the church’s liturgy. This use is a reminder of the fact that the church’s confessions are first of all acts of praise, thanksgiving, and commitment in the presence of God.

  2. Defense of orthodoxy. Most confessions have been intended as polemical defense of true Christian faith and life against perversion from within as well as from attacks from outside the church. They are the church’s means of preserving the authenticity and purity of its faith.

  3. Instruction. The confessions have been used for the education of leaders and members of the church in the right interpretation of Scripture and church tradition and to guard against the danger of individuals or groups selecting from the Bible or church tradition only that which confirms their personal opinions and desires. Confessions written in question-and-answer form (like the Heidelberg and Westminster Catechisms) were written to prepare children and adult converts for baptism and participation in the fellowship of believers.

  4. Rallying-point in times of danger and persecution. Confessions have often prepared and strengthened Christians to stand together in faithfulness to the gospel when they have been tempted to surrender to powerful forces of political, racial, social, or economic injustice.

  5. Church order and discipline. Some churches, like the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), have sought to preserve the purity and unity of the church by requiring its ministers and church officers to accept the teachings of its confessions in order to be ordained. The government of these churches is also determined by their confessions of faith.

Not surprisingly, there is tension between the existence of doctrinal standards that are subordinate to God’s Word and the possibility (likelihood) of evolving understanding. The Book of Confessions discusses this issue directly.

Those who choose confessional authority over personal freedom make impossible the continual reformation of the church called for by Reformed confessions themselves. They run the risk of idolatrously giving to the church the ultimate authority that belongs alone to the living God we come to know in Jesus Christ through the Bible. On the other hand, those who choose personal freedom over the confessional consensus of the church destroy the church’s unity, cut themselves off from the guidance of the church as they interpret Scripture, and run the risk of serving not biblical truth but the personal biases they read into Scripture.

For the last century the Confessions have been is a state of steady decline. In today’s PCUSA they exist as mere relics of a time long past, unused, unknown and utterly irrelevant to the vast majority of members and elders. There is thus not the slightest possibility that the PCUSA will fall prey to “those who choose confessional authority over personal freedom” in the foreseeable future.

The PCUSA has clearly fallen prey to “those who choose personal freedom over the confessional consensus of the church.” This precisely describes the process that has enabled the PCUSA’s current appalling situation.

Counting Equality with God a Thing to be Grasped (2 of 2)

This belief also manifests itself in the currently popular PCUSA leadership idea in that we are “co-creators” with God. This concept is casually discussed on the PCUSA’s official web site The article is titled “What’s next? NEXT Church gathering explores what PC(USA) is becoming,” March 4, 2013.

Following Tate’s sermon, conference participants heard from the Rev. Paul Roberts, president-dean of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary.

The idea that we are called to create what’s next for the church presumes that we are co-creators with God, Roberts said.

Is there such a thing as passive Christianity? he asked. Is it OK to sit around and wait for gifts from God?

Views like this ignore the more challenging aspects of our faith, Roberts said.

“We are so much more than passive recipients of the goodness of our creator,” he said.

But of what exactly are we co-creators? We must proceed with thoughtful caution, listening and being aware of economics, peace, justice and inclusivity, he said.

“Let’s not listen like we’re chillin’ in a rocking chair,” Roberts said. “Let’s listen like we’re on the edge of the seat.”

The Rev. Roberts contends that it is “we” who “are called to create what’s next for the church,” and that this belief “presumes that we are co-creators with God.” But when the Rev. Roberts explains “exactly” what it means to be “co-creators” it is once again only those concepts that align with twenty-first century elite thought, those being “economics, peace, justice and inclusivity.” The Scriptures and Confessions are absent. One is left wondering to just what these Christians are listening to obtain their information from this “co-creator God.”

Listening to the entire 45 minute talk on the Next Church website did not provide any mitigating information. – .VDqGPb49V0B

Near the talk’s end the Rev. Roberts put up this slide.

Co-Creator with God

Co-Creator with God

Although one definition for the phrase “not unlike” is “possessing no great dissimilarity from, but not necessarily possessing similarity to,” others simply say that it means “like.” Regardless of the intended meaning, this statement implies an understanding of both God and humanity that is utterly at odds with orthodox Christian doctrine.

Presuming yourself to be a co-creator with God implies that God has been brought down to your level or that you are elevated to God’s level, or some of both. I suspect that it’s some of both, since there’s a clear implication that not all humans have achieved this exalted state, thus implying the rising up of an elite group. However, even the wildest imaginings of these individuals can’t possibly presume attainment of the characteristics described in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Thus, for these elite Christians and God to meet as co-creators, God must necessarily descend and they ascend.

So, were a Christian with an orthodox understanding of God to engage with another Christian who believes that equality with God is something that they have grasped; can they possibly be speaking about the same entity? Were the orthodox Christian to “split the difference,” with the other Christian, could God be anything but diminished to a finite existence, at best measurably above humankind?

Can a denominational leadership that trumpets “co-creator” status with God on its official web site maintain an allegiance to God, let alone to His Word? Can individuals, who view themselves as free of Scripture’s actual words, from that cloud of witnesses who have gone before them and the vast majority of Christians who continue to believe other than they, be trusted to “co-create” that which is truly in God’s will?

I am extremely skeptical that any of this can be so. We err dangerously when we quietly assent to teaching unbound to anything other than the assertion of raw human will.

If this appraisal is correct, then there should be no mystery as to why so many people continue to exit the PCUSA. For, if god is simply what the dominant social group asserts it to be on any given day, then why bother with the pretense of “god” at all? Rather, let’s get on with the direct exercise of raw human power undiluted by wasteful pretension. Or, let’s go to a Christian community that still believes in God as an objective reality. Or, perhaps most commonly, what’s the point of Christianity at all?

Counting Equality with God a Thing to be Grasped (1 of 2)

I am about to argue that there is within postmodern Christianity an understanding of God that is fundamentally different from Reformed orthodoxy. Thus, we must first review the orthodox Reformed viewpoint. The Westminster Confession of Faith has the most comprehensive statement on this topic that I have found. The following excerpt (6.011 and 6.012, Scripture citations removed, of which there are 31) is long, but bears careful study prior to proceeding.

Of God, and of the Holy Trinity

There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty; most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: he is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.

The God defined above is in no way something with which we can claim the most infinitesimal degree of equality. Yet, I contend that postmodern Christians view God as an entity who is to some degree under their influence, if not their outright control. We see this mindset in the repeated listing of God’s (or Jesus Christ’s) attributes that, though technically and narrowly true, are a highly selective subset of the whole. The included attributes are only those that align with the twenty-first century beliefs that permeate postmodern Western culture.

We see this more clearly in writings like the Presbytery of Long Island’s, in which the nature and purpose of God are based only on their own reflections and imaginings. The implication of their utter disregard for Scripture as an authoritative source is that it is within them that the understanding God is to be found.

The Abolition of God

In spite of all that has been discussed so far I suspect that many readers will find this title to be overblown. After all, even if some, and a majority in some Presbytery Assemblies, appear to be strongly influenced by postmodernism, they also clearly identify themselves as Christian. When speaking and writing they may mention Jesus Christ, God, the Scriptures and even occasionally the Confessions. Doesn’t Christian charity and denominational peace demand that we presume common foundational concepts for our faith?

That would be a wonderful situation. However, I believe that postmodern Christians have internalized a dictionary of theological concepts that is completely different than that used by most Christians. Therefore, when members of the PCUSA engage in discussions using words such as “God,” “Scripture,” and “Christ;” there are cases in which the underlying definitions are so radically different that, though the words be the same they are actually speaking different languages.

I will argue in what follows that the ultimate end of postmodern Christianity is indeed the “abolition of God,” not in the “God is dead” sense, but rather in the “God is who I decide it is” sense. Specifically, postmodern Christianity asserts that God does not exist as an objective, external, unchanging reality that is revealed through His Word, but rather is primarily a human construct with characteristics determined by our level of knowledge, emotional states and social conditions.

Presbytery of New York City: Amending Marriage

I conclude this review of Rationale text with the most inexplicable excerpt of them all.

One part of our current Presbyterian polity specifically excludes a group of people when it comes to worship: those people in loving, committed, Christian relationships who are also of the same gender and wish to marry. However elsewhere in our polity, we hold up the words of Jesus Christ:

“… there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:27–29). … the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shall guarantee full participation and representation in its worship, governance, and emerging life to all persons or groups within its membership. … [F-1.0403]

What we have here is Rationale text, written over weeks or months, reviewed, debated and passed by a Presbytery Assembly and entered into the PCUSA General Assembly record that attributes words of the Apostle Paul to Jesus Christ. Even if we allow that, by some incredible sequence of events, no one in this Presbytery recognized that the Book of Galatians is an Epistle by the Apostle Paul, or that this passage is not Paul directly quoting Jesus; couldn’t someone have noticed that the words themselves are clearly of a person talking about Jesus?

This excerpt places a capstone on the entire same-gender marriage Rationale record, in which Jesus Christ is not allowed to speak for Himself. The possible reasons for this situation will be considered in due course. Let me simply conclude by pointing out that when, finally, one Presbytery “allowed” Jesus Christ to “speak,” they chose words that He did not actually say. Perhaps this situation is a metaphor for the entire postmodern Christian project.

Reading the entire Rationale record in support of these two Overtures provides virtually nothing to mitigate the issues that have been identified in this analysis. The fact that arguments for same-gender marriage that are this defective carried the day in our General Assembly is a resounding condemnation of the intellectual and theological state of the PCUSA.

Presbytery of Long Island: Authoritative Interpretation

The Presbytery of Long Island provides important insight into postmodern Christianity.

Out of our established commitment to peace and justice, we reflected that as Jesus taught us to fight for the oppressed, in our time there is perhaps no better example of what Jesus meant than the one before us now. It seemed to us unimaginable to think that Jesus would deny two people who seek to live their lives in union, with him and with each other, the ability to do so. Recognizing our duty as Christians to fight for justice for all of god’s people, we realized that in this case, if we do not make a change in the church, we are not only refusing to fight for the oppressed, we are in fact the oppressors.

Here we may be approaching the center of postmodern Christian thought. With the Scriptures and our Confessions easily at hand, these authors chose to draw only upon their own reflections and imaginings about Jesus and His teachings as the basis for their conclusions. Note that this Presbytery did not even once use the words Bible, Scripture(s) or Confession(s) in their Rationale. Reading the entire Rationale does nothing to change these observations.

What this window into the postmodern Christian mind reveals is truly shocking. Jesus Christ and His actual teaching, along with the entire testimony of the Scriptures, are irrelevant. What is relevant is what the authors conclude based on their internal reflection and imaginings. That is, the authoritative truth that should guide the PSUSA’s official decisions exists within these people, carriers, as they appear to believe, of a special, authoritative knowledge.

That somehow a small group of authors, likely all teaching or ruling elders, could come to write such a Rationale is difficult enough to fathom. That the majority of a Presbytery Assembly would choose to endorse such an argument beggars the imagination. We have apparently entered a “through the looking glass” world, in which the PCUSA’s policies are based on the internal authority of an elite group, utterly independent of Scripture’s teaching and our Confessions’ testimony.

Presbytery of Hudson River: Amending Marriage

While this Rationale does mention Jesus, it fails to mention the Bible and/or Scripture(s) or the Confessions even once.

It would be another seven years before the Supreme Court of the United States took up the question of whether the laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional.

The PC(USA) wasn’t content to stand by while the justices deliberated.

The 835 delegates to the UPCUSA 177th General Assembly (1965) of the then 3.3 million-member church concluded that there are “no … theological grounds for condemning or prohibiting” marriage between consenting adults merely because of racial origin (minutes, UPCUSA, 1965, part I, p. 409).

Today, when one out of every fifteen marriages is interracial, most Presbyterians embrace Jesus for his inclusivity.

Jesus, we’re the first to say, was not a racist.

And yet we don’t often consider that prohibiting the right of our fellow Christians to marry someone of the same gender is wholly analogous to prohibiting the marriages of people of different races.

What we have here is a Presbytery within the PCUSA directly accusing those who oppose same gender marriage as being “wholly analogous” to those who opposed interracial marriage, in other words, racists. I’m sure that those who composed and shepherded this language through the Hudson River Presbytery, and those Commissioners who voted in the affirmative, think themselves justified in making such an uncharitable accusation.

But then we hit the strange, fraught statement that “Jesus, we’re the first to say, was not a racist.” What could possibly have motivated such a jarring sentence? Obviously, their motivations are unknown by me. However, the most likely motivation is that they were aware of Matthew 19:4-6, in which Jesus Christ irrefutably defines marriage as between a man and a woman. In other words, Jesus Christ defined marriage in a manner that is “wholly analogous” to racism.

So, somehow, Jesus Christ is not a racist, but those who uphold His definition of marriage are. How to explain such a strange, contradictory situation?

Once again, I have no specific knowledge about these authors and Commissioners. However, I do have years of engagement with what is likely this mindset. My best guess is that their argument would go something like this.

‘Jesus Christ, though in some manner the Son of God, was yet a man trapped within the primitive, ignorant time in which he lived. Therefore, when Jesus defined marriage as between man and woman he did so in deference to this ignorance. Were Jesus able to define marriage today, he would agree with the current PCUSA elite that same gender marriage is both allowable and desirable. This is the case because Jesus is just like this elite, filled with “unconditional love and equality for all people.” So, obviously, Jesus would agree with them! However, those Christians who take seriously Christ’s teaching from the Scriptures have no such excuse. They live in this advanced, morally superior time and have the benefit of this elite’s knowledge, and yet still oppose same gender marriage. These people thus are the direct equivalent of racists, and deserve condemnation.’

If this suggested explanation is wrong, then I invite the Commissioners and leadership of the Presbytery of Hudson River to explain their actual justification for accusing their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who oppose same gender marriage, based on Christ’s teaching, of bring the equivalent of racists.

Presbytery of Maumee Valley: Authoritative Interpretation

The Rationale opens with the following paragraph.

When a couple seeks to be married in the church, rather than in a civil setting, they want the support of the people of God for their pledge of lifelong commitment. Will we continue to withhold this support, or will we welcome them fully and give a blessing to the gift of love that God has placed in their hearts? Will we encourage them to fully participate in the life of the church and to raise children in the body of Christ? There is no stated “biblical definition” of marriage. Indeed, much of what the Bible describes as marriage or intimate relationships—bigamy, polygamy, concubinage, socioeconomic bridal negotiations, levirate marriage—is no longer part of Christian matrimony. Where do we go from here, then?

Were we to simply accept this paragraph’s argument, then, absent a stated “biblical definition,” the standard for solemnizing a marriage relationship rests on the desire for “support of the people of God for their pledge of lifelong commitment” to “give a blessing to the gift of love that God has placed in their hearts.” The begged question is thus by what standard do the authors limit the involved parties to a couple? Can’t three (or four, or more) people meet this standard just as well as two?

And yet, in this presumed definition-less Christian situation, the authors list numerous types of “marriage” and “intimate relationships” that have by some mysterious means become “no longer” a “part of Christian matrimony.” We are left wondering how this situation could have possibly arisen.

Of course, there is a “biblical definition” of marriage, provided by Jesus Christ Himself and clearly stated in our Confessions.  It is the application of this standard that explains the relationships that are no longer part of Christian matrimony.  Is it really possible that no one in this Presbytery knows about Matthew 19:4-6 and the associated Confessional passages? If they did, is it really credible that they are incapable of differentiating that which is simply described in Scripture from that which is clearly stated, by Jesus Christ Himself, as the definition of marriage? If they did not, should we grant them the slightest credibility on the topic of what is or is not stated in Scripture?

Presbytery of the Cascades: Amending Marriage (2 of 2)

Part 2 of 2:

We believe that God created each of us with many differences, including sexual preferences, and that those differences are to be celebrated as part of the creative plan of God.

The reformed orthodox Christian mind boggles at this statement. It’s premise appears to be that anything at the core of our personal sense of identity must be good and must have come directly from God. There is absolutely nothing here that accounts for the defacement and distortion by sin on human beings as image bearers of God. The fact is that, regardless of sexual preference or any other dimension of personal identity, we are fundamentally estranged from God and each other due to the consequences of sin.

The only cure for this eternal disease is Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Christ has acted on our behalf to eradicate that against which we are powerless.

Yes, the Scriptures do celebrate the diversity of gifts that God creatively bestows upon His elect. However, they do not celebrate the diversity of sin. Here are the words of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul on the diversity of sin from which the elect have been saved.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15:19)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Support of marriage equality is consistent with our faith tradition. The covenant of marriage requires love and commitment; qualities that are in no way gender specific.

The covenant of marriage requires one man and one woman, which is straight from Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:4-6). This assertion appears out of thin air. Until those making this statement will demonstrate its truth based on the actual testimony of the full Scriptures, I must assume that its validity rests only on the fact that they will it to be true.

Failing to allow for marriage equality continues to have negative consequences for the Body of Christ, the church, in that it gives some of our members fewer rights than others, treating them as second-class members. This is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Well now…Jesus Christ chose the Twelve Disciples to be His primary witnesses, does this mean that all His other disciples are second-class? The PCUSA doesn’t make every member an Elder or Deacon, are all the rest second-class? What if one man and two women, all members, desire to be married in the PCUSA? Does the current limitation of “two people” make these three second-class?

After all, as numerous Rationales point out (in identical language), “the Bible reflects many patterns and forms of legal, religiously approved marital relationships.” The most common pattern “reflected” (which does not mean approval) is polygamy. Thus, by this argument, polygamous groups of people have more justification to claim second-class status than do same gender couples, since polygamy is actually “reflected” in Scripture as a form of “legal, religiously approved” marriage while same gender marriage is not.

The plain fact is that this line of argument undermines any distinction made by the church among its members. The consequences of these erroneous views will be severe.