One of the resources suggested for further reading in the study of “Christian Marriage in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)” prepared by the Office of Theology and Worship is a recent book by James V. Brownson, Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships, published by Eerdmans in 2013. Tricia Dykers Koenig reviews the content of Brownson’s book and commends it as a valuable contribution to the church’s ongoing conversation.
Ken Cuthbertson explores the historical contexts of the usage in the PCUSA’s Book of Confessions where marriage is specifically spoken of as being between “a man and a woman” — particularly relevant since that phrase has become the focus in so much of the rhetoric in the current debates concerning same-sex marriage in the church, and in society in general.
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Cuthbertson is a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a scholar of church history and historical theology, and a spiritual director. He is a native of Kansas and a graduate of Sterling College, Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and the School of Religion at the University of Iowa. His new book, The Last Presbyterian?, is a historical-theological-spiritual memoir about the “psalm-singing, Sabbath-keeping” strain of old-time Scots-American Presbyterianism from which his family came, and includes reflections on how we might carry key elements of that faith heritage forward into an inclusive, emergent, and missional church for the 21st century. Ken and his spouse, Doug, live in New Mexico.
Ken offers a draft of a confessionally-based statement about marriage for our day and time.
Keynote Address by Henry Brinton at the Baltimore/DC Regional Conference, March 9, 2013: “I believe that all of you want to be part of a truly welcoming congregation, one that embraces all people with God’s love and grace. But if you are like me, you haven’t mastered the practices of Christian hospitality. You probably set up some barriers to inclusion without even knowing it.”
At the Kansas City Regional Conference, Dr. Mark Achtemeier continued his exploration of biblical insights into marriage: “…We have now come to the end of our experiment in reading the Scripture like the faithful scribe in Jesus’ teaching. We have taken what is old – the testimony about God’s purposes for love and marriage and sexuality that comes to us from the broad sweep of the Bible’s story. We have brought out this old, time-tested wisdom and combined it with what is new: the recently emerging opportunity for gay and lesbian people to openly makes vows and commitments to one another in the covenant of marriage.
The result of this combination of old and new is not the abolition of biblical sexual morality or the abandonment of Scripture’s teaching. The result is the right and proper extension of the Bible’s time-honored teachings on love and sex and marriage into these new relationships where it manifestly belongs…”
Dr. Mark Achtemeier addressed the Twin Cities Regional Conference on same-gender marriage: “…The vocation of groups like the Covenant Network will be critically important in the months and years ahead. It is not within our power to turn back the rising tide of cultural and historical forces that are sweeping our church into a period of decline. But we are confident that the day will come when God will purge the poisonous legacy of exclusion and hatefulness from our culture’s image of Christianity. Until that time it falls to you and me to keep the lights of a gracious witness burning in the midst of the surrounding darkness.
To carry out that task, to make that positive Christian witness, you and I must be absolutely clear that our affirmation and celebration of gay marriage is a consequence of the Bible’s testimony and not its contradiction…”