Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage Issues at the 221st GA

The 221st General Assembly (2014) will consider seven overtures addressing the PCUSA’s policies on marriage; with multiple concurrences, these overtures reflect almost 50 presbytery actions and demonstrate a great demand in the church for change.  The most widely-supported actions are Items 10-02 seeking amendment of the Book of Order,  and 10-03 requesting an authoritative interpretation to affirm pastoral discretion.

Click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.




  1. Tim Holmes says:

    Might I suggest saying “widely discussed” or perhaps simply, “most concurred” versus “widely supported” amendments: 17 and 20 supporting presbyteries of 173 is hardly “widely supported.”

    The hubris to suggest that these are well-supported in a fractured denomination shows either
    a) negligence in acknowledging the diverse and divided state of the PCUSA
    b) intentional propoganda to promote CNoP view as the “well supported” major view.

    In some ways I cannot figure out which I prefer…innocent mistake that lacks pastoral consideration for others within the denomination, or intentional manipulation now that CNoP is positioned into the likely status of the majority.

  2. No offense was intended! We certainly have no illusion that these are not difficult issues about which there are many deeply held views in the church. We continue to seek and model a way to discuss these issues that focuses on the substantive matters at hand and the importance of the conversation. We have ourselves been enriched by the conversation with partners across the theological spectrum, and we believe the church can continue to grow through the debate.

    The statement above says “most widely supported,” not just “widely supported,” and I think the context makes clear that we’re simply identifying which of the several overtures regarding marriage have the most presbyteries sending or concurring with them–namely, Items 10-02 (Amendment) and 10-03 (AI). Having said this, there is no other issue coming to this year’s assembly about which nearly so many presbyteries have seen fit to send overtures, and we think that’s a point worth recognizing, as well. The reality is that this is a pressing issue, facing congregations and couples from coast to coast, and we hope the Assembly will act to clearly affirm the freedom of pastors and sessions to exercise their discretion to celebrate–or not celebrate–legal marriages regardless of the gender of the participants.

    Brian Ellison, Executive Director
    Covenant Network of Presbyterians

  3. Thomas Fultz says:

    The Covenant Network continues to provide excellent resources supporting their position on same-gender sexuality. It is unfortunate your four page format doesn’t offer space of one more question, for this most recent resource of FAQs on Marriage does fail to address the guidance of the PCUSA Confessions in following Scripture as a rule of faith and life in this matter. In reading questions #11, #14 and #15 I wonder how the organization arrives at supporting marriage restricted to two persons, other than it is the dominant convention. If it is context that drives the dominant and/or appropriate expressions of sexuality as indicated in answer #11 “Most of our mission partners understand that each of us is called to unique understandings of our ministry within our own particular context and respect that the PCUSA is seeking to reflect God’s will for us in our context in the USA”; then how can someone in a context of valuing wider partnerships not determine the Covenant Network is limiting the grace of Jesus Christ to same-gendered partnerships of only two persons? The answer #14 states the Covenant Network position that the “Bible does not contemplate the possibility of same-gender marriage, but many…have concluded that biblical moral logic values committed, mutual, loving partnerships – regardless of the gender of the partners.” How does the organization conclude the same values cannot be lived out among three person partnerships? A restrictive position on numerical terms is at odds with the call for radical inclusion of Overture 10-02 from the Presbytery of the Cascades. Our understanding of Scripture and the guidance of our Confessions diverges in that I take the historic Christian view of believing God created us for sexual expression between a woman and a man; while the Overture’s rationale affirms “God created us with many differences, including sexual preferences, and that those differences are to be celebrated as part of the creative plan of God.” If my view of Scripture is wrong and that of the Presbytery of the Cascades rationale is correct, then the Overture miss its own mark.

    I thank the Covenant Network for its openness to hear alternative perspectives on issues before our denomination and pray the call from the faculties of Columbia and Austin Seminaries for mutual forbearance is answered by the 221st General Assembly.

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