Frequently Asked Questions: Civil Union and Marriage

  • Are congregations and/or pastors required to participate in/host such weddings?
  • Can a pastor in a state where it is not permitted perform a wedding in a state where it is?
  • Will sessions have the authority to permit (or not) same-gender marriage services in the church?
  • If a pastor is willing to preside at the marriage of a same-gender couple, can the session prohibit the pastor from doing so?
  • Can the session make a categorical prohibition of same-gender weddings in its building?
  • What process did the General Assembly use to make this happen?
  • What is an authoritative interpretation (AI)?
  • What is permitted according to the AI at the adjournment of the assembly?
  • What is an amendment to the Constitution?
  • What if the presbyteries refuse to vote on the amendment?
  • If the presbyteries do not approve changes to the Constitution, what is the effect on the authoritative interpretation (“AI”)?
  • What is the timeline?
  • What is the actual language of the authoritative interpretation?
  • What is the actual language of the proposed amendment?


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  1. "Scripture alone" we say and conscious decisions and actions should be based on the consistency of the "Word" as it appears in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Tell me what Scripture or Scriptures show God or Jesus approval of same sex marriage. Love (agape) has no sexual inclusions or descriptions in it's meaning . No procreation takes place in same sex unions. We, as Christians are called to be in the world but not of the world (not culturally defined, politically correct, inclusive or other such terminology) . Tolerance has taken on a new meaning (total acceptance) , with this decision by the GA. What's next to be considered by the GA? Please I say again show me the Scripture reference upon which this is based, and please don't reference those including love for fellow men. As for me, 1st. Cor. 6:9-20 does not single out permissible acts or sins of the individual . We Presbyterians are constantly being reformed by discernment through prayer given through the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that either I or the GA will be reformed through prayer.

    by John E. Morris

    July 5, 2014

  2. The beauty of our Holy Scriptures is that their meaning and relevance transcend all circumstance. In order to do so, they are necessarily ambiguous. Few answers are concrete and easily defined in black and white. This is a benefit because it forces one to think, consider things from many points of view, to pray, and search for meaning. Superficial answers make for a superficial faith. Martin Luther came of age when the hierarchy of the Catholic Church dictated the meaning which all Christians should take from scripture. He honestly believed that when the church leadership read the same scripture he was reading that they would come to the same conclusion to which he came. That is the mistake that we are all too likely to make. Because of the ambiguity and mystery of scripture--divinely inspired as it is--two thoughtful, earnest and prayerful people can read the very same scriptures and come to different conclusions. This has happened since the beginning of time and will continue to be the case with every controversial issue that faces the church. Indeed, it is the case in the discussion of homosexual marriage. The greatest mistake that we can make is to assume that people on the other side of the issue are less informed or less prayerful. There are earnest Christians on both side of this issue within the PCUSA, within ERPC, and even within our own session. The integrity of our churches and denomination depends on our willingness to “be one, as [Christ and the Father] are one. (John 17:11) We can and should be a Christ-centered church if we recognize that what we have in common, namely that we confess with our mouths “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, is far more important than our opinion on an issue with multiple legitimate viewpoints. (Romans 10:9) I submit that we focus our efforts on knowing Christ and making Christ known regardless of how the person in the pew next to us or the Presbytery or the General Assembly might see things differently.

    by Monica McCarroll

    July 2, 2014

  3. I must agree with statements above by Harris, Ward, and Totten. I seem to remember specific language spoken by pastors during Presbyterian wedding ceremonies with words like 'bringing together a man and a woman' . Our beliefs are becoming diluted. For what do Presbyterians stand? Tolerance and nothing more? Let's call it a union or a partnership, but marriage needs to stay Biblical. A man and a woman are to be joined as one. While I am totally in favor of acknowledging the love that may exist between two of the same sex, and recognizing that same sex couples need the very same compassion, guidance, and prayer that heterosexual couples need, a marriage is different, is Biblical in it's definition and should remain that way.

    by Elder Craig Brown

    June 30, 2014

  4. Way to go, PCUSA! You have modeled for the United Methodists a way of embracing the value of people as they are created, upholding the gospel of Jesus Christ, and listening to the wealth of information and research we have from the scientific and mental health community. Perhaps now you can get down to the business of creating healing and wholeness within our broken and hurting world.

    by Eric Conklin

    June 30, 2014

  5. I read today that your denomination decided to divest from three companies that provide supplies to Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank. I believe your decision was based more on feelings and not facts or prayer. Just remember what Genesis 12:3 says.

    by Mark Armstrong

    June 23, 2014

  6. I feel that a minority of members, through action groups are selling us a bill of goods through appeals to our Christian tenants of love and tolerance. They are marginalizing our values by trying to make us feel guilty for having values which seem to be intolerant. I do not support the path we are on relating to redefining marriage.

    by Elder Leslie L Totten

    June 23, 2014

  7. No. The denomination has strayed from the Lord Jesus Christ in an effort to win political and cultural praise. (Did anyone research Romans 1 during the deliberation?) By doing so, she has also seriously distorted the gospel message. What a shame! Those who supported this amendment put reconciliation out of reach because they refuse to repent of their lack of will to acknowledge Scripture and deal with sinners as defined in them--that is, to love them, but not placate them with false assurances regarding their sins (telling them it's "okay" when God disagrees). Again, what a shame!

    by Scott Ward

    June 23, 2014

  8. Do not agree with the 221 GA approval to allow teaching elders pastoral discretion to perform "any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform where legal by state law."

    by Elder William Madison Harris

    June 22, 2014

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