Yesterday the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved an amendment to its Constitution that re-defines marriage as a covenant between two people.
As a Presbyterian pastor since 1967, this debate has been a matter of long-suffering disappointment, prayer, and hope. At long last, the church opened its heart to all of its members. Questions of how to move forward in ways that do not disparage the conscience of dissenters and how to prevent further withdrawal of dissenting PC(USA) congregations provide no ready answers. Perhaps the fifth of the PC(USA)’s Historic Principles of Church Order (approved at the founding General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1789) may yet guide the church today and in days to come.
…[W]e… believe that there are truths and forms with respect to which people of good characters and principles may differ. And, in all these we think it the duty both of private Christians and societies to exercise mutual forbearance towards each other. [Book of Order, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Forbearance is an increasingly foreign attribute in the church, the nation, and the world. One prays and hopes that forbearance would prevail as we work our way through the thistles and nettles of the spiritual, ethical, national, and geopolitical issues of conscience that trouble and divide us.
– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 18, 2015