A Wrong Turn
Bad news from PCA General Assembly.
The overtures seeking to make Book of Church Order 59 (the solemnization of marriage) constitutional were all defeated by the Overtures Committee.
It is a sad, sad day for the PCA.
There will be a minority report from the OC which will give the assembly the opportunity to answer the Overtures Committee in the negative which means the overture passes. Given the way PCA progressives have rallied against these overtures it may well be that the minority report will fail on the assembly floor. However, I am hoping and praying for a good outcome.
The two rationales I have seen given by our progressives for opposing the overtures are:
1) It’s redundant. The Westminster Confession of Faith already states that marriage is between a man and a woman. We don't need to make BCO 59 constitutional.
2) Making BCO 59 constitutionally binding will be like hanging a “No sinners welcome sign” on the front doors of our churches. I have seen this rationale expressed by a pastor affiliated with the National Partnership (the political organization of PCA progressives).
Two problems with those rationales:
First of all – WCF only addresses the belief that marriage is between a man and woman. The BCO speaks to performing (solemnizing) weddings. Right now that part of BCO has no binding constitutional authority. That means, among other things that we are legally vulnerable. It is also naive. There are presbyterian and reformed denominations which claim to hold to the Westminster Standards but now bless homosexual unions.
Secondly, since some PCA pastors are stating that making BCO 59 is unkind to sinners then do they feel the same way about what WCF states about marriage between a man and woman?
The rationale for making BCO 59 constitutional is at least fourfold:
1) To honor God by upholding the truth.
2) To give public witness to God’s truth at a moment when that truth is under attack.
3) To give further clarity to our churches regarding this much maligned truth.
4) To protect our churches and clergy from legal attacks. Since the PCA practices good faith subscription to the Westminster Standards and allows its pastors to take exceptions (but NOT to the BCO) we are vulnerable to a legal attack. Any smart attorney can argue that since the PCA allows its minsters to take exceptions to the Westminster Standards and since the Book of Church Order on the subject is non-binding, any refusal to perform and/or host homosexual weddings is arbitrary and discriminatory.