Sunday, September 20, 2009

Civil Union Commission Rejects Civil Unions, Wimps Out On the Hard Part

The Special Committee to Study Civil Unions and Issues of Marriage of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has just issued its draft report. They spend 30 pages reviewing the issues of marriage and homosexuality familiar to anyone who has been involved with this issue.

In the end, they come to two conclusions:

First, we should stay in covenant relationship with one another in the church despite our disagreements [my paraphrase]. Second, quoting the report,

We find that the compromise suggestion of civil unions/domestic partnerships offers no true solution to the struggle around same-gendered partnerships. Civil unions/domestic partnerships provide neither the state-sanctioned benefits nor the societal acceptance that marriage (expanded or not) offers.
The review of the debate that the committee offers is not bad. The conclusion that we should stay and work with one another, rather than call each other names and leave, is worth saying again. The conclusion that civil unions will not work is a substantive conclusion.

BUT what the committee leaves the church with is this:
You have two hard painful options.
We reject the compromise that is on the table.
We do not choose either option.
We offer no other compromises.
Good luck.


heersit said...

I's a committee. That's how they roll.
Maybe you guys need a pope. At least you would have some clarity.

Walter L. Taylor said...

Given the assumption of the committee, that the denomination must stay together and not divide over this issue, then there is really not much more that the committee could say. For many this is a church dividing issue.

Rebecca said...

I'm confused. Does this mean that individual churches will be able to decide? Or is this just a stalemate?

I've gone on over to the PCA, but hate to see all of this turmoil and indecision in the PCUSA.

Clay Allard said...

So, Beau--
What's your solution?

Nav said...

I believe Walter Taylor is right---if you start off with "the denomination must stay together" then you will reach the conclusion they did as it is an issue that would very likely lead to a division. If you start at a different point, you would end up with a different conclusion.

Matt Ferguson
Hillsboro, IL

Rev. Margaret Aymer, Ph. D said...

Dear all,

Both Clay and I are members of the committee. For the record, we have intentionally left the initial report without recommendations so that the church can read and comment on the report (and not just rush to the recommendations). We would welcome suggestions of specific recommendations that keep in mind both the covenant and the place of disagreement.

We are opening the report for suggestions not because we have no ideas ourselves but because we want to hear from the church.

We will meet to discuss recommendations and to finalize the report in January.

Meanwhile, it would be particularly helpful if the Gruntled Center would comment on the descriptive parts of the report, and the recommendations they seem to present to the denomination. The period for comment ends on November 15.

Rev. Margaret Aymer, Ph. D said...

Comments to the committee may be made to

Michael Bush said...

It seems to me that the PC(USA) has pretty much got the impasse we deserve in this situation.

Walter L. Taylor said...

Michael, you're right about the "impasse we deserve." In fact, I would call it the "1 Kings 18:21 Impasse."

"And Elijah came near to all the people and said, 'How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.' And the people did not answer him a word."

Dave Moody said...

Given the a priori parameters, Walter, Nav, Michael B. seem accurate. This is the only logical posture to adopt. I think Gruntled center has it about right in his 'executive' summary.

I like the Elijah impasse analogy.