At the heart of this debate is the "fidelity and chastity" amendment to the Book of Order, G -6.0106b. It says:
Those who are called to this 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 of 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.
I believe that what most proponents of a rule that "the Book of Order standards are essential tenets" want is contained in the first, "fidelity and chastity" sentence. However, what they have not fully reckoned with is that such a rule would also make the second sentence equally binding and universal.
Is any presbytery seriously ready to examine every potential officer of the church on "any practice the Confessions call sin?" Is any presbytery even ready to examine every potential officer on whether they have read and understood every practice the Confessions call sin? Is there any examination committee that is willing to have that same standard applied to itself?
Now, I have long argued that the Book of Confessions was a mistake. Adopting it meant that we have no confession, because we take none of them as a constitutional rule of the church. That is why we only fight over the Book of Order – it is the only really constitutional part of the constitution. The overture under discussion is part of that same shift to treating the BOO as the only really binding part of the constitution. The proposers of the overture, though, have not looked carefully enough at what is in the Book of Order. Declaring the BOO standards "essential tenets" will open more than a can of worms – more like a barrel.