By Heather Murphy
The Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly has, not surprisingly, been as hotly discussing the question of GLBT inclusion as we have in our happy little Methodist corner of Christendom. Where our issues of the year were church membership and "compatibility with Christian teaching" (will any of us ever be able to hear that phrase without flinching again?), the Presbyterians were talking about marriage and ordination. On marriage, the church voted to keep language that defines a marriage as existing between a man and a woman, by a thundering 77-33 percent majority. Thanks a lot, Presbyterian Church. I'm sure all the married Presbyterians who happen to be gay are drinking a toast to you as they flip through their phone books for nearby UCC congregations.
On ordination, they did a little better; they sent a recommendation to the regional presbyteries that would lift the requirement that ministers, elders, and deacons must either be celibate or married to someone of the opposite sex. Even my eternal starry-eyed optimism doesn't stretch far enough to allow me to believe that one will pass, but I'm always happy to be wrong in situations like this. Besides, that opens the door not only to married gay pastors but also to pastors who host wild orgies in the parsonage, doesn't it? I think I'm against that.
They also passed an interesting resolution which allows individual candidates to object to the requirement, which would, if I'm understanding my source correctly, open the door for local presbyteries and church councils to go ahead and ordain a gay or lesbian candidate anyway? Or maybe not? Or maybe ordain them, after which their ordination gets challenged and they get to spend the next few years debating the question in church court? Lucky them; is there any nicer way to start a career in ministry than with an ordination that comes with a built-in guarantee of public airing of your private life and a fun-filled potential defrocking in the indefinite future?
Here's a longer story at 365Gay about the Presbyterian assembly.