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Presbyterian Church in America supports biblical sexuality at General Assembly

Pastors and church leaders who identify as gay are not qualified for ordination, the Presbyterian Church in America said in an overture passed during its General Assembly last week.

An overture is an appeal to the General Assembly to take a particular action. The overture may propose an amendment to the constitution, or request a particular ruling by the General Assembly, or ask the General Assembly to take actions regarding an issue before the church and the world.

“This has been a hot topic in our denomination, so it won’t surprise you to hear that we spent more time on this overture than any other overture,” Scott Barber, chair of the Overtures Committee, said before the vote.

The final approved overture read: “Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same sex-attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian’ or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same-sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations and actions are not qualified for ordained office.”

Advocates praised the overture for its consistency with the denomination’s beliefs about sexuality. Bart Harmon of the Southeast Alabama Presbytery spoke in favor of the overture at General Assembly, calling it “most consistent with the gospel — and because it’s consistent with the gospel, it is by definition compassionate.”

On Twitter, conservative Christian commentator Erick Erickson called the overture’s approval “a strong vote for biblical sexual ethics. Very proud of the elders in St Louis who are standing for orthodoxy against cultural currents.”

Barber told the elders voting on the overture that its intent is not to exclude Christians who are gay but remain celibate. Rather, he said, “What we said is if we use terms like that that undermine or contradict our identity as new creations in Christ, if such an identity becomes higher than our identity in Christ, that would eliminate us from being qualified in the PCA.”

To take effect, Overture 23 still must be approved by two-thirds of the denomination’s regional presbyteries and then again by a majority at the next General Assembly, scheduled for 2022 in Birmingham, Ala.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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