The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has amended its constitution to recognize same-sex marriage. Although the change in the definition of marriage sees it as being “between man and woman” to “two people, traditionally man and woman,” individual churches still hold the authority to refuse performing same-sex marriages if they deem it inappropriate.
The approval of this amendment had been made in the Book of Order by the General Assembly of the PC (U.S.A.) last year, but it further required the consent of its 171 regional bodies, or presbyteries. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is amongst the country’s most significant Protestant denominations, its headquarters in Louisville, Ky.
According to the New York Times, the vote count until Tuesday saw 87 presbyteries in favor of same sex marriages, while 41 were against and one tied.
NBC News quoted Rev. Gradye Parsons, the church’s stated clerk or top ecclesiastical official, saying, “There is nothing in the amendment to compel any teaching elder to conduct a wedding against his or her judgment.”
The decision to vote in favor of same-sex marriages comes from the departure of orthodox and active Presbyterians along with massive cultural acceptance.
Notwithstanding the amendment, the discretion of conducting same-sex marriages remains with ministers.
According to the New York Times, several moderates and conservatives “will stay within The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).” Paul Detterman, national director of The Fellowship Community, said, “Our objection to the passage of the marriage amendment is in no way, shape or form anti-gay. It is in no way intended as anything but concern that the church is capitulating to the culture and is misrepresenting the message of Scripture.
“We definitely will see another wave, a sizable wave, of conservative folks leaving.” He and the other members of the Fellowship Community are staying because “this conversation is dreadfully important to be a part of.”
Palisades Presbytery, Rochelle Park, New Jersey, was the 86th local body to pass the amendment.