Jul 8, 2010

Shock and Awe - GA's Vote on the Redefinition of Marriage

Shock and Awe!

The General Assembly began debating the report on Civil Union and Definition of Marriage at 9pm this evening.

The way this assembly had been voting on other issues, it looked like we would be coming out of the General Assembly with a votes overturning ordination standards and a redefinition of marriage from between and man and woman to "two people."

As I wrote earlier today, the GA already voted to send down to presbyteries for their approval or disapproval a change in ordination standards. As stated earlier, it is unlikely that there will be enough votes at the presbytery level to change the ordination standards.

This evening the GA began debate on the issue of marriage. The committee was recommending the majority report from the Task Force while evangelicals were supporting the minority report coming from the Task Force to maintain biblical understanding of marriage between a husband and wife.

The first shock and awe moment came when the GA approved a motion to amend the committee's report by adding the minority report to the majority report so that both documents would be sent down to presbyteries and sessions for study. And then in one of the most bizarre moments I can remember in GA's, the commissioners then amended the minority report to include the majority report.

The end result being that both studies would be sent down for study.

Then the biggest shock and awe moment came as the GA began moving on to the next items of business that would have provided a new Authoritative Interpretation from the GA redefining marriage. What makes an Authoritative Interpretation so damaging to the presbyterian way of governing is that a single GA without the vote of presbyteries would be able to, in effect, change the constitution of the PC(USA). Authoritative Interpretations, while having authority over the constitution, does not need to be ratified by the presbyteries. In essence, presbyteries and congregations have no voice or vote in Authoritative Interpretations.

Even before any of the other pending business was up for debate, a commissioner moved a motion stating that all pending items from the committee would be answered by the previous action to study the majority and minority report from the Task Force.

The rationale was that since the GA acted to have the presbyteries study the Task Force recommendations, that the church should actually study the reports prior to making any decisions about redefining marriage.

Makes perfect sense to me!

By a vote of 348-324 (51%-49%), the GA approved this motion.

SHOCK and AWE!!!

For evangelicals, this is a monumental victory.

However, it would not surprise me if there was a motion to reconsider this action either tomorrow or Saturday morning.

In the mean time, what this means is that we have the opportunity to defeat the GA's action to change ordination standards in presbyteries (and as mentioned already, the progressives do not have enough votes at the presbytery levels to change the constitution) and the biblical definition of marriage stays.

SHOCK and AWE!!! in the best sense.

Continued prayers that the commissioners will not change this vote and that attempts to reconsider will be defeated.

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