In the Line of Fire, by Michael Brown

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It's Time to Leave the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Presbyterians and gay marriage
This week, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved its pastors to officiate gay marriages in states that have legalized the practice. (Flickr/Ludovic Bertron)

If you are a Jesus-loving, Bible-based member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), unless God has called you to stand as a prophetic voice of rebuke to the denomination, or unless your ministry commitments to individuals make it impossible for you to leave, now is the time to make your exit.

The PCUSA has made its rejection of the Word of God official.

According to the denomination's statement, on Thursday, June 19th "the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved a recommendation from its Civil Union and Marriage Issues Committee allowing for pastoral discretion to perform 'any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls then to perform,' where legal by state law."

In other words, regardless of what the Scriptures plainly say, as a PCUSA minister, if you feel called to violate God's Word and perform a same-sex "marriage," follow your conscience, not the Bible.

This is a recipe for disaster and is nothing less than rebellion against the authority of the Word.

The statement continues, "They also approved a recommendation to change language in the Book of Order to indicate that 'marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.'"

Not only is this completely unbiblical, since marriage in the Bible and throughout history requires a man and a woman rather than "two people," it is also completely illogical, opening a Pandora's Box of new possibilities.

After all, if marriage is not the union of a man and a woman, why does it require two people? Who not one or three or five? What is so special about "two"? (For a debate with a college professor where I repeatedly raised this question without receiving an answer, go here.)

Remarkably, the original language of the proposal only stated that "marriage involves a unique commitment between two people." The words "traditionally a man and a woman" were added as a concession to conservatives and in order to secure their vote.

To address this plainly, any "conservative" who voted to approve this amendment based on the addition of the phrase "traditionally a man and a woman" needs to do some deep soul-searching and some serious repenting.

But none of these developments surprise me in the least, since the PCUSA had already capitulated on two other issues, first abortion and then true justice in the Middle East. And as a general rule, any group that compromises on one of these areas, going the way of the spirit of the age, normally compromises on the other two as well.

This is not an absolute rule, but with consistency, you'll see that as a church group gets more liberal, they become pro-abortion, pro-gay activism, and pro-Palestinian (at the expense of Israel).

In keeping with this, the PCUSA has called for the divestment of funds from US companies (like Hewlett Packard) that work with Israel's army, also calling for "a boycott of all Israeli products produced illegally in the Palestinian Territories" (meaning, produced by Israel in one of its settlements in Judea and Samaria), "the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories," "the relocation by Israel of the Separation Barrier to the 1967 border," "the withholding of US government aid to the State of Israel as long as Israel persists in creating new West Bank settlements," and more.

And so, while affirming Israel's right to exist within secure borders and while renouncing anti-Semitism, the PCUSA calls for all kinds of actions against Israel and virtually none against the Palestinians (other than renouncing violence on either side).

In the same way, the PCUSA has long embraced a very liberal abortion policy. Their stated position has been that "the considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision." And their sexuality curriculum teaches that abortion "can be an act of faithfulness before God to intervene in the natural process of pregnancy and terminate it."

Note also that the "PCUSA actively supports and endorses the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (formerly the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, RCAR) and Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO)." Both organizations have been featured on the PCUSA website.

And despite opposing late-term abortions where the baby could survive outside the womb, the PCUSA's medical plan "pays for abortion without restriction."

Is it any wonder that this same denomination has cast off the Word and chosen to redefine marriage?

In their official statement, they wrote that their decision was "the result of deep discernment to hear God's voice and discern God's will."

In reality, it was not deep discernment but deep deception.

These are just some of the reasons the PCUSA is in such decline, with membership now down to 1.8 million from a high of 4.25 million members in 1965.

And now those numbers will likely drop even further, as many PCUSA churches, leaders, and individual members will make the difficult but necessary decision to leave the denomination entirely, either joining together to forge a new group, joining an already existing group, or serving independently.

Already the Presbyterian Lay Committee has stated that it "mourns these actions and calls on all Presbyterians to resist and protest them." The committee wrote, "You should refuse to fund the General Assembly, your synod, your presbytery and even your local church if those bodies have not explicitly and publicly repudiated these unbiblical actions."

And they added, "God will not be mocked, and those who substitute their own felt desires for God's unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God."

Given the fact, though, that the vote to redefine marriage was three-to-one in favor, it appears that the only viable protest is to make a complete exodus.

The sad truth is that these faithful Presbyterians are not so much leaving their church as their church has left them.

(To watch Dr. Brown's video message to the PCUSA, click here.)


Michael Brown is author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

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