Sunday, May 27, 2007

If You Don't Accept the Rules for Ministers, Don't Apply to Be One

Mission Presbytery, in San Antonio, TX, had accepted a woman as a candidate for ministry even though she told the presbytery she was a lesbian in a committed relationship. The presbytery declared that the well-known rule barring practicing homosexuals from the ordained ministry did not apply to candidates for ministry, and voted to accept her as a candidate, 169 - 111. On appeal, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, the church's top court, ruled that a practicing lesbian can't be a candidate for ordination, for the same reason that she can't eventually be ordained.

This is another case of those who disagree with the church's rule playing brinksmanship to see what they can get away with. It does not matter what the rule is, this is the wrong way to change the church.

5 comments:

Mark Smith said...

In defense of the presbytery, they were relying on a note in the Annotated Book of Order that indicated that the restriction did not apply to candidates.

It turns out that the note did not have the weight of judicial decisions behind it, which is what the GA PJC ruled.

This was not so much flouting the rules as hoping the rules would change before it became an issue. How would you have us push for a powerless minority to have the same rights as others - by waiting and hoping?

Gruntled said...

The presbytery did rely on a note in the Annoted Book of Order. According the GA PJC, though, the presbytery's error was not in hoping that the rule would change, but rather in not noting the crucial difference between the New Jersey case that the note was about and their own case. In the New Jersey case, the candidate was celibate, and therefore eligible for ordination.

Alan said...

"This is another case of those who disagree with the church's rule playing brinksmanship to see what they can get away with."

Actually it is my understanding that no one in that Presbytery ever had a discussion with the candidate regarding moving from inquirer to candidate and the implications due to her sexual orientation. So, perhaps assuming/critiquing the motives of the defendant here without (I'm guessing) ever having talked to her is unwarranted?

In any event, yes this is the wrong way to change the church. We should just shut up and sit in the corner until the people who can actually be ordained and can actually vote decide what's best for us. ;)

Stuart Gordon said...

Alan:

With all due respect, the comment with a wink requires response. The ordination issue isn't about "what's best for us." It's about what's best for the church.

If the wink was sincere, I'll just chuckle and be quiet.

Alan said...

Oh, I was just pointing out the convenience of Gruntled's attitude that it is appropriate to deny a voice & vote to LGBT folks and then grouse when they color outside the lines. :)

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you don't really mean that *we* aren't part of *the church*. Though I think I could be forgiven for having to ask the question, given the attitude of the PCUSA toward LGBT folks.

So, assuming we actually are part of the church, then with that correction, it should read, "In the mean time we should just shut up and sit in the corner until the people who can actually be ordained and can actually vote decide what's best for the church."

That sounds even worse and deserves an even bigger wink, given what a bang-up job you folks have done so far. ;)