Explaining those denominational votes

pcusa_sigI wish the mainstream media would cover more denominational news. Or, should I say, more denominational but non-Episcopalian news. I also wish we'd see more balanced coverage of disagreements related to homosexuality. Ann Rodgers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a nice job with both when she covered the Pittsburgh Presbytery's vote against a proposed amendment to the constitution that would have eliminated the requirement that clergy practice chastity in singleness and fidelity in marriage.

She gives some nice context on the amendment process and how it's faring in the 173 presbyteries of the 2.3 million-member denomination. Those who wish to retain the chastity/fidelity provision are winning.

Early on in the story, she mentions that the acting pastor to the presbytery told voters prior to the debate to focus on Jesus rather than on their differences and to spend the month in prayer for their church and the world around them. It provides a nice framing device for the back and forth Rodgers then provides. She does a nice job of showing how Christians disagree on this issue and, more importantly, a bit about why that is:

Two fathers of gay men spoke on opposite sides of the chastity and fidelity amendment.

"The current ordination standard cuts like a knife into the heart of what many presbytery members believe about their friends and family members who are gay," said Mike Fazzini, an elder at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. "It sends my son the message that he is not worthy ... because the love of his life happens to be of the same sex."

She quotes an elder whose deceased son was gay speaking in opposition to the amendment. There's just a wide variety of people in the story, pro and con. Here's another interesting perspective:

The Rev. Robert Gagnon, a New Testament professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, challenged those who argued that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality.

When Jesus insisted on monogamous marriage, he predicated it on a passage in Genesis which says that "from the beginning God made them male and female ... In other words, the fact that God had designed two, and only two, sexes for complementary sexual pairing was Jesus' basis for monogamy," the Rev. Gagnon said.

Rodgers frequently does a great job writing balanced stories. She presents her sources as more than just caricatures. And she shows how people can disagree with each other and remain together in the same denomination. It's a refreshing change.

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