Friday, November 17, 2006

"Examining" Candidates II

The Covenant Network’s “Guidelines for Examination of Church Officers” paper (GECO) employs certain assumptions regarding the meaning of the PCUSA constitution. Regardless of the fact that the Network came into being to fight the clear meaning of the PCUSA constitution on ordination of practicing, unrepentant GLBTs, it claims now to have historic information undermining such meaning.

The paper claims that, although the GA Permanent Judicial Committee ruled that the 1978 Authoritative Interpretation of the PCUSA constitution is binding, the “General Assembly [that wrote the interpretation] believed it was delivering non-binding ‘guidance.’” (p 49) I happened to be one of the thousands of observers at that General Assembly and clearly remember everyone’s reaction—the guidance was meant to be binding. Assertions otherwise don’t change history.

The GECO paper focuses more closely on the paragraph in the PCUSA constitution that prohibits the ordination of practicing, unrepentant GLBTs. As a reminder, the text of the controversial paragraph in the PCUSA context is as follows:
G-6.0106b. Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
The GECO paper goes on to say that the “wording of G-6.0106b is clear evidence that the whole church was not prepared to adopt the more categorical and exclusionary language of the ‘pre-B’ statements.” (p 49) Their point, I think, is that G-6.0106b fails to use the words “homosexual” or “GLBT,” so it is not particularly relevant regarding such candidates. Once again, this is an assertion without substance. In fact, the clarity of the “more categorical and exclusionary language” undermines their above statements about the 1978 Authoritative Interpretation. It is from this interpretation that, since 1978, the PCUSA has firmly stated that GLBT ordination is unconstitutional.

The whole controversy over the G-6.0106b paragraph—and the fact that pro-GLBT forces have consistently fought to have it removed—is proof of the clarity of its meaning: those in a sexual relationship outside of heterosexual marriage shall not be ordained.

In the next blog I’ll consider the use (or misuse) of specific words that the GECO paper employs.

Keep praying--keep the faith,

1 comment:

Chris said...

The GECO is truly the epitome of casuistry. Keep unraveling it for all to see, Tom.