Same-Sex Unions

As you may have heard, at its 221st General Assembly last week, the PC(USA) approved same-sex marriage both by authoritative interpretation and by a proposed change to the constitution. Here’s an article from the Religion News Service, and a blog entry from More Light Presbyterians (pro) and a pastoral letter from Presbyterians for Renewal (con).*

I — Pastor Luke — am studying these measures to understand the logic behind them, but my initial impression is that the authoritative interpretation is gimmickry designed to work around the clear words of the constitution, as evidenced by the proposed changes to the constitution which accompany it.

Sadly, the PC(USA) is not alone in misusing church processes to achieve extra-constitutional ends. The UMC has reinstated Frank Schaefer after previously defrocking him for officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding. I previously posted about the UMC situation here.

As a citizen of the U.S., I believe that civil rights should be recognized equally for both straights and LGBTs. Indeed, that is (for me) a bare minimum, and I go well beyond it, as I have posted before.

The case for calling same-sex unions marriage in the theological sense is weak, however, and the Church, however, is not free to make things up.

* I won’t sport with you by pointing you to the PC(USA) website for information. There’s an article there, but it can’t be linked, only downloaded. (Seriously! in 2014!)

A Case for (Traditional) Marriage

From Ireland, a brief argument in favor of leaving the societal definition of marriage alone, while offering protections to gays and people in other loving relationships.

I’m sympathetic, but dubious about the prospects for retaining a traditional definition of marriage in a society that has become unmoored from its foundations. Essentially, society has been deconstructing itself for the past couple of generations, questioning all its institutions. I’d be very surprised if marriage is where it says, “enough.”

(The Christian institution of marriage is a separate matter, of course, and cannot be defined or redefined according to what is or is not popular, be it in society generally, or within a denomination specifically. The church is a body, not a democracy, and Christ is its only head.)

(Link via Kevin DeYoung’s Gospel Coalition blog.)

Family Structure and Inequality

In the women’s Bible study today, several people observed how common it was for families today to have nontraditional parenting arrangements: single parenthood, blended families, complicated custody arrangements, etc. Many of those families are managing well enough, but some are struggling.

In the New York Times today, Jason Deparle points to one of the reasons families so often struggle today:

An interesting pattern over the last four decades is that inequality has grown much faster for households with children than it has for households over all — an indication that changes in family structure (as opposed to wages and employment alone) have increased inequality.

Later, Deparle cites a study in the Annual Review of Sociology that observes:

A large body of research indicates that living apart from a biological parent (typically the father) is associated with a host of negative outcomes that are expected to affect children’s future life chances or ability to move up the income ladder.

“Children who grow up apart from their biological fathers score lower on standardized tests, report poorer grades, and view themselves as having less academic potential than children who grow up with both biological parents. More importantly, they are also more likely to drop out of high school, less likely to attend college, and less likely to graduate from college.

Divorce and the decreasing rate of marriages have given adults in our society more options, but for a lot of people, they haven’t made life easier. Instead, they appear to be adding to the troubles of both parents and their children.

Via TaxProf Blog.

Homosexuality and Preachers

Last week the United Methodist General Conference rejected two motions that would have relaxed the church’s teaching about homosexuality. One of the results was a decision not to vote on related motions. From the Washington Post:

The UMC’s policy remains that ministers cannot marry same-sex couples and churches cannot host same-sex weddings. Clergy in same-sex relationships are likewise banned. … About 1,200 United Methodists clergy have agreed to break church rules and marry same-sex couples, surveys show young Christians favor expanding gay rights and other mainline Protestant denominations have adopted gay-friendly policies in recent years.

But what’s with that last part?

Can clergy disobey the teaching of the church?

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