The Special Committee on Civil Union and Christian Marriage Bring It On


In response to several overtures concerning marriage and families, the 2008 PCUSA General Assembly did the very Presbyterian thing: they asked the Moderator to appoint a Special Committee to study the matter. That committee was formed in the winter and began its work with a strong desire to take advantage of modern technology to involve the whole church in the conversation. The first major effort to fulfill that promise appeared last week in the form of an open request, posted on the Presbyterian News Service, for answers to this question:

What is the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community?

Responses only need to be a maximum of 1000 words and submitted by August 16, 2009 to the Office of the General Assembly, electronically to or by mail to Room 4621, 100 Witherspoon St. Louisville, KY 40202-1396.

So send your answer in! The Special Committee is offering us all an opportunity to be part of the dialogue: take it! If you need a prompt to get you thinking, see if you agree or disagree with my answer to this question and try out your thoughts by sharing your comments here.

The place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community is within the structure of marriage, understood as both a civil right conferred by the state through a marriage license and as a religious rite in which God’s blessing upon the couple is prayed for in the context of Christian worship.

The basic reason for my conviction is this: Scripture teaches me that the heart of marriage is the loving covenant between the partners. Experience has confirmed for me over and over that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples display all the qualities of relationship that we, in the church and American society, recognize as marriage.

Indeed, inclusion of GLBT loving, long-term partnerships within the structure of marriage is an affirmation of a deeply conservative understanding of the essence of marriage, the life-long covenant between two people upon which both partners can grow and a family can be built. The promises made by the couple are the defining elements of marriage and of Christian marriage, in particular, because the vows mirror the covenantal promise at the heart of our faith, God’s promise of salvation in Christ and our response in hope and love.

Experience teaches us that all married couples need all the support they can get in our present world. I urge this committee and the PCUSA to help all marriages blossom and thrive.

Reverend Janet

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