LOUISVILLE — On March 8, the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA released a statement to clarify that it is not in support of same-sex “marriage.” The clarification came after the director of the Presbyterian Washington Office claimed the PCUSA rejects the Federal Marriage Amendment at a press conference held March 3.
“Good morning, my name is Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory and I am the director of the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Our General Assembly is the national decision-making body for this 215-year-old historic denomination with approximately 11,500 congregations all across in the United States and Puerto Rico,” began Ivory in the March 3rd release.
According to Ivory, the “Presbyterian Church General Assemblies have affirmed the civil right of same sex couples to civil marriage,” and it believes that “the Federal Marriage Amendment should be rejected.”
“The PCUSA retains its religious practice and view that Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well being of the entire human family. For Christians, marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a lifelong commitment is made by a woman and a man to each other, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith,” Ivory argued, stating the Presbyterian Church USA’s Book of Order W 4.9001.
However, Ivory, whether intentionally or arbitrarily, omitted a sentence from that same order that shows the opposite of what she argued: “Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man.”
In response to such an avidly incorrect and misguided proclamation, the Stated Clerk of the PCUSA, Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, said that "The General Assembly has not taken any action to 'publicly oppose' the Marriage Amendment,” on Thursday, March 4.
Kirkpatrick’s March 8th announcement follows in the same line, saying that the PCUSA “has demonstrated a historic commitment both to the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman and to human and civil rights for all persons.”
The following is the full text of the Office of General Assemblies release:
1. Has the General Assembly defined marriage?
Yes. The Directory for Worship states, “Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man. For Christians, marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship.” (Book of Order, W-4.9001).
2. Has the General Assembly taken action to support a federal marriage amendment?
No. The 214th General Assembly (2002) declined to adopt a resolution calling for support of the federal marriage amendment.
3. Has the General Assembly taken action in support of marriages for same-sex couples?
No. (See answer to question #4.)
4. Has the General Assembly taken action to support contractual relationships between same-sex couples with equal civil rights of married couples?
Yes. The 208th General Assembly (1996) approved the following resolution: “Affirming the Presbyterian church’s historic definition of marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman, yet recognizing that committed same-sex partners seek equal civil liberties in a contractual relationship with all the civil rights of married couples, we urge the Office of the Stated Clerk to explore the feasibility of entering friend-of-the-court briefs and supporting legislation in favor of giving civil rights to same-sex partners.”
5. Is it appropriate for PC(USA) governing bodies to communicate these actions to public officials and the media?
Yes. In fact, PC(USA) governing bodies have historically communicated the denomination’s position on public issues.