On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Palisades Presbytery became the 86th of the 171 presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to approve redefining marriage in the Book of Order from the sacred union between “a man and a woman” to between “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” It points to a deeper debate for Millennials about interpretations of biblical morality.
From the Christian Science Monitor article, "For Christian Millennials, gay marriage debate produces new views on morality."
In general, American Protestantism has long been defined by its reliance on the Bible as its sole authority. And [David Gushee, an evangelical and professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta], still bases his ethical thinking on Scripture. But, he says, Protestantism has long changed its interpretations of the Bible as its experiences have begun to change.
Even Evangelicals as a whole, he points out, changed their interpretation of Scripture to accommodate expanded roles for women – upending selected verses that had been understood to mean women should be silent or keep their heads covered. The experience of slavery and the Holocaust also transformed the Bible’s ostensible teachings on race.
And today, new experiences, especially among the young, are transforming what Gushee sees as misinterpretations of what the Bible condemns in a handful of passages, written to address an ancient context.
“A big part of why that is the case is because more and more of us are coming to know gay and lesbian Christians, in their dignity and their suffering,” he says. “Many Millennials no longer find the older narratives of condemnation plausible: It doesn’t fit the facts, and it doesn’t fit the lives of people that we know.”
[Alex Patchin] McNeill, part of a younger generation of leaders in the PC(USA) and [executive director of More Light Presbyterians (MLP), an advocacy group in Minnetonka, Minn., that has worked to change the church’s definition of marriage], invokes the traditional “Protestant principle” proclaimed in the church’s Book of Order: “The church affirms Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei, that is, ‘The church reformed, always to be reformed according to the Word of God’ in the power of the Spirit.”
More here at the More Light Presbyterians website.
Photo: some leading clergy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at 219th General Assembly of the denomination, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2010.