PC(USA) Stated Clerk issues statement on Supreme Court’s action on marriage

June 26, 2015


The 221st General Assembly (2014) and the presbyteries ratified the following definition of marriage:

Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community. …

If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. ... (Book of Order, W-4.9000)

Today’s Supreme Court’s decision granting equal protection under  the law for same-gender, loving people and allowing their marriages to be recognized in all 50 states is welcomed by many within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Actions of the Supreme Court also allow for religious bodies to continue to teach and practice their faith consistent with their belief system. We recognize that within the PC(USA), there are teaching elders and sessions whose understanding of Scripture and the Will of God will prohibit them from performing or hosting wedding ceremonies between same-gender, loving couples. Neither the actions of the 221st General Assembly (2014), nor today’s Supreme Court decision will require them to do so.

For members within the PC(USA) and the wider society who have prayed and fought for this day both within society and our church, we join you in giving thanks to God for this historic action. We continue to work for the full inclusion of all God’s people in the church and in society and relationships marked by genuine love, commitment, and justice.

The Office of Constitutional Interpretation has prepared a helpful set of FAQs for pastors, sessions, and mid councils to use in response to the decision of the Supreme Court.

FAQs: Same Gender Marriage after Supreme Court: Obergefell v. Hodges

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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  1. As a heterosexual married man, if I were to commit adultery by having a homosexual affair, which sin is worse? Is the adultery considered the only sin?

    by James Harrison

    July 6, 2015

  2. I think God is smiling down on the Presbyterian Church. We must move on and not become divided.

    by Betty Baldwin

    July 2, 2015

  3. The federal government has never been in the business of interfering with contracts between two people. Ever since 1776 and before, if two people wrote out a contract that stated, "We will own this house together, we will work at our job(s) and have one joint bank account, all investments made by each will be considered the benefit and obligation of both, and the terms under which we will dissolve this agreement are thus and so, including alienation of affection," the government would not and has never interfered with private contracts between two people. I do not care what anyone else does in their private affairs. It seems to me, however, that the principal motivation is 1. spousal benefits for social security and insurance and 2. a desire through government decree that everyone must be in agreement that it is wonderful. If couples of any orientation really loved one another they would be working hard to get the government to allow them to opt out of social security because it will be broke before I collect on it.

    by William Strinden

    July 1, 2015

  4. Does the Presbyterian church believe that the Bible is to be followed? I think it's accurate to say that most Presbyterian members are loving, caring folks in regard to both straights and gays and that the abilities and values and gifts that each group brings to the church is thought to be extremely valuable both in uplifting one another and in leading each other. Both groups, straights and gays, are humans and therefore, as human, have the capacity to love and yet, are sinful. A few years ago, the thought that I often heard expressed about gays was 'hate the sin but love the sinner'. That seems to have changed to 'It's ok to sin and we'll even endorse that sin by welcoming and applauding your marriage'. Some have cited, yikes!, the Bible starting with Romans 1:24-28: 24, and including Leviticus 20:13: 13. So maybe what the Bible says, does matter? Or not?

    by Craig Brown

    June 30, 2015

  5. Its unfortunate that a church that claims to uphold the scriptures will endorse or celebrate a decision that contradicts the faith handed down from the ages. Paul himself warned the church in Galatia, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse! Gal 1: 6. The scriptures cannot be broken. Jesus continues to remind us that the road that leads to eternal life is narrow and only few they are that finds it. We can try to make it broader to accommodate as many as we want to . However, Gods standard of holiness cannot be compromised. Many are called but few are chosen. Proud to be Presbyterian? So am I too. But I do hope God is also proud to own us as His. That's really what counts.

    by aluu nnali

    June 30, 2015

  6. Hi, Love homosexuals, Yes, agree, NO. Romans 1-27 is very clear about the issue. Romans 2-1 is where the controversy begins. If you judge from yourself, you are doing the same thing. If it is God's judgment, it is not yours. Wow

    by Dennis Cobb

    June 30, 2015

  7. Politics: A detailed explanation of why Christians don't accept gay marriage With that said, let's start by establishing a basic point about the Bible. The Christian (present company included) believes that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God. That's why, when we cite the Bible, we treat it as authoritative. starting with Romans 1:24-28: 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. This passage clearly establishes that God intended a natural order for how we would receive and engage in the gift of sexual activity, and it likewise establishes that homosexual sex is outside that established order. It also establishes that there is a penalty for this. Loving Christian people want to see gay people spared of the pain of that penalty. 5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Next, let's look at Leviticus 20:13: 13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their bloodshall be upon them. 14 I understand why some Christians struggle with this. They know a gay person, or maybe have a gay family member, and they want that person to be happy. It's enticing to accept the "love is love" argument and to believe that surely God wants that gay person to be in a loving relationship. But that argument wrongly conflates love with sex. There are a lot of different kinds of love. Hopefully you love a lot of people, but you only have sex with one person - the one to whom you're married. If you want a gay person to know love in a romantic/sexual relationship, good, so do I. So I will pray that this person is delivered from those urges through the blood of Jesus so that he or she can find the mate of the opposite sex that God always intended for them to come together with.

    by Richard Morrissett

    June 29, 2015

  8. Holding true to the traditional definition of marriage does not make us full of hate and violence. All are welcome and all are sinners, but the church should not endorse the sin. If we are honest, who among us can say that we have always kept the Sabbath holy, always honored our parents and never coveted anything. How long before the PCUSA decides to edit the ten commandments?

    by Bill Mathews

    June 29, 2015

  9. I am proud to be in an inclusive church that recognizes the Lord of All in everyone. Violence and hatred hold no place in the christian life.

    by Rev. Susan E. Duker, Honorably Retired

    June 29, 2015

  10. God's love is pure...as we evolve through our Christian journey, just as the Bible itself evolved through time, Jesus lived and demonstrated his love for all that accept his message...Grace Alone! All Brothers and Sisters are welcome to a full life here and everlasting! Peace and Grace to us all.

    by Barry G Brooks

    June 28, 2015

  11. Jesus is about love as this decision was about love.

    by Donna Reed

    June 28, 2015

  12. I am ashamed to be called Presbyterian. Going against the Word of God is wrong.People going by their so called "rights and feelings" is blatant rebellion toward God. Sin is sin and doesn't change over time. READ your Bibles with an open heart and mind. I pray Come Lord Jesus Come.

    by Doris Garner

    June 28, 2015

  13. Love wins!

    by Kate Wilkinson

    June 27, 2015

  14. I am grateful to have served for the last quarter century as a teaching elder in this great church.

    by Chris Neufeld-Erdman

    June 27, 2015

  15. I weep for the US. What standards will we destroy next?

    by Anne Benson

    June 27, 2015

  16. I am a Presbyterian and a mother of two gay children. I am very proud of both at this moment and proud to be an American. Thank you for your stand on this issue.

    by Charlene Lakin

    June 27, 2015

  17. I am pleased that the Presbyterian Church USA today has upheld the United States Supreme Court's ruling. The General Assembly of PC US A voted, and the many individual Presbyterian Presbyterian ratified that decision. No longer shall equal rights for all of God's people be denied.

    by Joel P Lynn

    June 26, 2015

  18. I have never been so proud to be a Presbyterian

    by Paul Urian

    June 26, 2015

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