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Presbyterians Decide for Choice in LGBT Ordination

After more than 35 years of votes, recriminations, mud slinging, oh yes, and study and prayer, (Yes, all those things are possible at the same time within the church!), the Presbyterians (PCUSA) have ratified a voted to allow ordination for those from sexual minority communities. With a vote of 205 for and 56 against they join the US Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church as partners who now allow LGBT people full church membership and leadership. Another vote is scheduled June 28th when the last presbytery votes however, for the most part, it is time to celebrate that the exclusiveness inside the walls of the church has been removed…almost.

As we have seen with the sell-out on women’s reproductive health in Congress last fall in order to pass a national health insurance plan for the US, there were deals cut to make this victory of inclusion happen. It means that while, as a whole, the PCUSA will now allow immediate access to ordination, it does not require that local regions have to abide by it. So locales that are rigidly anti-gay will simply continue to refuse to ordain or provide any ministerial positions for sexual minorities. So it is not as if from 1974-2011 there has been a wholesale change of heart accompanied by an increased understanding of sexual orientation or that views that God uses all of us without regard for (or perhaps because of) our own unique life experiences have triumphed. It means that people who want to hold onto their exclusive ways may do so and still call themselves Presbyterians. They have simply agreed to disagree on this issue and still be brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps this is a step in the right direction and perhaps with continued dialogue and new relationships opportunities will allow for a change in people’s minds. However, Rev Mark Brewer of Bel Air Presbyterian Church said he thought that Presbyterians would, "Stay on the same ship; just live on different decks."  Now that is not a good sign.

I cannot say taht I understand why the church is still having difficulty with the topic of homosexuality given the science that increasingly supports that orientation is genetically predetermined and not a choice. However, I do know that most people are afraid of any discussion about sexuality as a rule, especially those of us sitting in the pews. And, it is not an option for LGBT folks to simply sit there quietly and not talk about this topic. They want to be seen and accepted as they are. Imagine that! Crazy thing about grace because that is exactly the meaning of the gospel story. Prodigal sons. Ostracized women at the well. Lepers. Rich men yearning for meaning. Religionists following empty rituals. All were welcomed by a Jesus who looked past the outside differences and looked on the heart.

The gospel is that the banquet is ready, the table is spread, and the invitations are inclusive to all who will come. It is not our job to screen the invitation list for those unlike ourselves but to simply show up and enjoy the feast to our heart’s content. Now, with this vote, at least, in the PCUSA, a few more invitations just went out. May there be joy as they gather at the banquet table, and, it would be nice if they stayed on the same deck together.

Danni, 05-23-11 10:01am:
Can't help it, but:

1. As an academic, I've got to demand to know what that scientific research is, and

2. As a woman who identifies happily as bisexual, I refuse to accept that the choices I made that have made my life so much fuller were predetermined by chemical compounds.

First of all, if you dig deep enough through enough data sets and control for the right combination of variables, you can find a correlation between anything and anything else.

We have found genes for pedophilia and serial assault, are we to let these people run our churches? Genetics are not the right reason. The reason that gender minorities should be allowed to run our churches the same as the mainstream is because it is the right thing to do.

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