In honor of the 14f campaign, More Light Presbyterians shares the following testimony from Rev. Wally Landrum — Missouri Union Presbytery.
Since 1788 our Presbyterian historic principals read: “we also believe that there are truths and forms with respect to which ‘men’ of good characters and principles may differ. And in all these we think it the duty both of private Christians and societies to exercise mutual forbearance toward each other.”
In 1865 as we neared the end of 600,000 deaths partly over how we differed about what the Bible says about American slavery, Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”
We here of good character differ about what is God’s will. We all read and love the same Bible and we pray to the same God; both of our prayers could not be answered; neither has been answered fully.
Some have held consistent Biblical views on each side for 30 years. Some, like my friend Mark Achtemeier, have repented.
In 1996 Dr. Achtemeier was brought into this presbytery to speak against practicing homosexuals being ordained in the church. In 2014 he wrote an inspiring book entitled: “The Bible’s YES to same-sex marriage – an evangelical’s change of heart.” I know of many who have changed their minds and hearts from exclusion to inclusion; I know of no one who has moved the other way. (I guess I just live a sheltered life).
For those of you who believe this is a moral issue and the church must take a stand to support six fragments of the Bible interpreted in a specific way, voting yes will not limit the freedom you have as teaching or ruling elders to not participate in a same-gender marriage of disciples of Jesus. You do not have to be afraid; you are free to stay traditional.
For those of you, who believe this is a love and justice issue and seek to follow over 1000 Biblical verses on love and justice, voting yes allows you to follow your understanding of scripture, your experience, and your faith in what God is calling you to believe and do.
While giving freedom of conscience for some to not participate in a same-gender marriage, your yes vote will give freedom to people of good character who disagree with them, to remain faithful to their ordination vows while they follow God’s Spirit that calls many of us to bless a legal marriage for a Christian couple’s fidelity, commitment, and love.
Rev. Dr. Wallis Landrum
Missouri Union Presbytery
Feb. 10, 2015