Friday, August 27, 2010

You're guilty, but we're sorry you are !!??!!

In a decision that follows the letter of the PCUSA Constitution, but not the Spirit of the Constitution; the PJC of the Redwoods Presbytery has convicted Rev. Jane Spahr of representing a same sex wedding as a ceremony of Christian Marriage, and signing the Certificate of Marriage as the person solemnizing the marriage. This during the period such weddings were legal in California.

However, these ceremonies were in violation of the GAPJC decision that exonerated her a few years ago that stated “…officers of the PCUSA authorized to perform marriages shall not state, imply, or represent that a same sex ceremony is a marriage. Under W4.9001, a same sex ceremony is not and cannot be a marriage."

They also convicted Rev Spahr of performing no fewer than 15 additional Marriages in violation of that same Book of Order paragraph.

Finally, they convicted her as failing to be governed by the polity of the PCUSA , in violation of her ordination vows.

They did not sustain the charge of failing to sustain the peace, unity and purity of the church.

After all that, this PJC gives a full page to why they're sorry they had to do this , but that the Book of Order was wrong, that the laws of the State of California at the time were correct, and that Rev Spahr was acting with faithful compassion in accord with the BOO paragraph W-7.3004.

Trouble is, they overlooked what the BOO says in W-7.3001, A Ministry of Compassion: God sends the church in the power of the Holy Spirit to exercise compassion in the world,

1. feeding the hungry,
2. comforting the grieving,
3. caring for the sick,
4. visiting the prisoners,
5. freeing the captives,
6. sheltering the homeless,
7. befriending the lonely

No where in that list do I see, violate the PCUSA Constitution in doing this.

Now maybe I'm reading this wrong, after all, six Ministers and Elders must know more than this member in the pew, right??

They go on to say that they ...commend Dr. Spahr and give thanks for her prophetic ministry that for 35 years has extended support to “people who seek the dignity, freedom and respect that they have been denied” (W7.4002c), and has sought to redress “wrongs against individuals, groups, and peoples in the church, in this nation, and in the world” (W7.4002h).

They complain that they had to follow the Constitution because the GAPJC decision is authoritative and should be followed until modified, which reading between the lines probably meant that it should have been this past GA and the only reason we're convicting now is because those areas were not addressed.

They then complain that the BOO paragraph W-4.9001 " ... we have inclusive
and broad descriptive language about marriage, “Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well being of the entire human family.” This sentence is followed immediately by “Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man.”

I wonder why they left out this part: For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a lifelong commitment is made by a woman and a man to each other, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith. I guess that language is somewhat inconvenient in the context of the "slap on the wrist" they were giving.

But that paragraph goes on: "The language of the second statement draws on our cultural understanding today of marriage that is rooted in equality. But it is not faithful to the Biblical witness in which marriage was a case of property transfer because women were property. Nor does it specifically address same gender marriage."

"Biblical witness in which marriage was a case of property transfer because women were property." I seem to recall this Biblical witness:

Genesis 2:23-24 - The man said,"This is now bone of my bonesand flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Matthew 19:3-12 - Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

Finally, they did not convict on the last charge of violating the peace, unity and purity of the church because they "..we commend Dr. Spahr for helping us realize that peace without justice is no peace."

Wait a sec, in affirming that which the Confessions STILL call sin, this is supporting the purity and unity of the church ?? After 20 or more years of calling those who will not affirm sin, bigots, homophobes, and worse, this is upholding the peace, unity and purity of the church ?? After church upon church, voting with their feet to leave the PCUSA because of the drift to apostasy being pushed by those who see nothing wrong with sin, but everything wrong with faithfully following the Bible, this is upholding the peace, unity and purity of the church??

I don't know, but then again, I'm just a member in the pew, I'm not supposed to understand all this. As someone told me when commenting on a previous blogpost, trust the system.

Seems to me that we conservative Evangelical Presbyterians should rise up and overthrow the system.

... and so it goes!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Anonymity Redux!

My last post dealt with why I maintain my identity behind my pseudonym. Then I was asked by Church and World if they could link to that post. I was surprised, and flattered that something I wrote would actually have made that compilation of Presbyterian news and opinion.

What I wasn't surprised about was that only two people actually commented on that post. It appears that either people don't care, or just don't believe that there could be discrimination against conservatives in the PCUSA. Yet there is a first person account written by the Rev. Hector Reynoso, who along with being a Commissioner to the GA, was also running as a Vice-Moderator candidate.

I quote:
The time of the plenary came and one by one pretty much all items supported by the GLBT community were approved: continuing with an inclusive translation of the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belhar Confession, new form of Government, the removal of the famous Amendment B, redefining marriage (this one did not pass), Board of Pensions (BoP) benefits for same-sex couples, etc. I was witnessing the church of Christ losing all votes by a landslide. I was compelled to speak at the plenary during the debate for ordination standards for I could no longer remain silent. Speaking at plenary immediately made me receive the cold shoulder from many, but also the love and support of a few Biblically-faithful, Christ-centered Presbyterians.

He goes on to state that during the next plenary session, he twice rose to speak, and both times someone called the question. Was there a coordinated effort to stifle debate, to block conservative speakers from stating their views ??

Amidst all the talk of proper representation on committees and commissions, the one commissioner overture that would require proper theological representation was not even debated (as far as I can tell).

Could this be the newest elephant in the room, that the vaunted social justice machine of the PCUSA, will not even give justice to those who want to point out that the church was given the task to conform the world to the Word, not the other way around ??

... and so it goes !!