As civil marriage for same-gender couples has become a reality in a significant portion of the United States, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has been receiving overtures calling for a reconsideration of the church’s definition of marriage and for giving teaching elders permission to officiate at same-gender marriages if they so choose. Because these overtures are continuing to be considered by commissioners, both the 219th and the 220th General Assemblies have implored the whole church to engage in prayerful deliberation upon our understanding of marriage, specifically our views on marriage between same-gender couples.
The 2012 General Assembly wisely directed the Office of Worship, Theology and Education in Louisville to provide a study guide that became available in the spring of 2013. It reviews established church policy on, and practice of, marriage, helping us remember together what makes marriage such a rich, challenging, and blessed human experience.
What this four-part study guide adds is consideration of the diverse perspectives among us on the inclusion of same-gender couples in our PCUSA understanding of marriage—the specific concern that prompted the charge from the last two assemblies to study marriage. More Light Presbyterians offers this continuation of the prayerful discernment started by the Special Committee on Civil Unions and Marriage with a heart-felt prayer that it will be a blessing to the whole church.
We pray it lays out fairly and concisely differing points of view among devout Presbyterians and asks questions that will help us find our way on God’s path into the future. If we got something wrong here, please correct it and keep going. If our questions fall short, please ask the further questions that will help you pray and talk about same-gender marriage.
Our great hope is that you will use this guide in a group that includes differing ideas and conclusions about marriage between two people of the same gender. Perhaps your church has people with varying perspectives— we encourage everyone to join in. All are welcome! Perhaps there is a church near-by whose general views on this are different from your church— you may want to invite them to use this guide and study with you. This is an opportunity to reach across.
MLP yearns for this Study Guide to be a healing blessing for the whole church. You are the ones who will make it so. We are cheering you on!