Friday, July 9, 2010

Presbyterians Ok Gay Clergy, for some Reason- I'm Unclear

I guess the Prebyterians have joined the ELCA and are ordaining homosexuals:

Interesting stuff.

From a purely pragmatic perspective (of course, there's the whole thing about this violating the immutable will of God, but I think we all agree about that part!), I sort of don't get why they did it.

I mean, most mainline Protestants don't functionally believe in God. If they did, they wouldn't believe that the truth was a wax nose that they could mold as you like (See: Hanson, Bishop Mark). They would be reverent about how they handle the Bible. But they're not. So the only thing I can conclude is that they functionally don't believe in God as an ontological reality.

So, if you functionally don't believe and your goal is to simply perpetuate the institution (for some reason- I have some ideas), then why do something to make the institution unpopular among people who are really comitted to it? I mean, do you think that the marginal, already secularized people in the PCUSA are really ones paying the bills? No, of course not, it's the firebrand, Evangelical types (of which there are many!). So, why alienate them for the sake of 4% of your members? It makes no sense.


  1. I'm trying to understand the view of the 4% who voted for noncelibate gay clergy but against gay marriage. It seems to me you'd have to affirm the following:

    1. The PCUSA is only concerned about sexual morality only with respect to clergy.
    2. Marriage is only appropriate for a man and a woman.
    3. *However*, in the case of gay clergy, it's kind of an onerous and unfair requirement that they be chaste, so let's give clergy a special dispensation if they're at least playing at marriage.

    This muddled, incoherent stage of argument was present in the ELCA documents, but at least after the fact they achieved a kind of consistency by voting for both noncelibate gay clergy and of blessed gay unions. I would be genuinely shocked if this incoherent PCUSA policy passes the test of regional votes.

    One additional observation: in my experience, people trying to offer reasoned support for these changes claim precisely the mutability of God's will ("the Spirit is doing a new thing"). There isn't much room for debate after that: if you hold a new revelation of God's will, that would make a competing provisional revelation obsolete. Maybe if I want to be able to argue this effectively I'm going to have to go back to Duns Scotus and wrap my head around how to argue what God would/could choose to do, given what God has already revealed and done.

  2. The thing to realize is that within liberal Christianity, God is seen as a liberal. They don't deny God -- but rather as Michael said they say God is "doing a new thing" (or, where God has put a comma we should not put a period (UCC)). The point is that they have made God into their image. They are in no way concerned about conforming themselves to Christ, but rather are interested in pushing forward the causes that they believe must be God's (because he's like them).

    Liberals are never satisfied with the tolerance they preach to others. They are true believers in their wacky worldview.


  3. Oh, and not that this matters too much, but I think the Presbyteries have to approve the change. I believe that was the sticking point 2 years ago. So I don't know that this actually means that they will officially recognize gay clergy yet.

  4. There is a sense in which Church people have the idea that the clergy is moral for the rest of us. Hence the emphasis on clergy celibacy. The 4% is the percent that are likely homosexual based on the percentage in the rest of the population.

    I think they worked it out so they can merely reinterpret the current constitution and don't have to have the vote by the Presbyteries. It's part of their strategy of nihilism. I'll have more on this in a future post.