Worthy Christian News » Christian » Presbyterian Defeat Of Amendment A called 'a victory for Biblical Morality'
The overwhelming defeat of Amendment 01-A, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed the ordination of practicing homosexuals and invalidated all previous General Assembly declarations that homosexual activity is sinful, was being called "a victory for Biblical morality" Wednesday.
Through votes cast Feb. 20, the unofficial tally stood at 88-40 against the amendment, with the remainder of the presbyteries voting in the months to come. A majority vote of the 173 presbyteries - 87 - was required to defeat the proposal.
The vote is "a victory for Biblical morality and for the holiness of the church," the Rev. Russ Stevenson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge, La., told The Advocate after his presbytery's vote defeated the proposal in the denomination.
The present margin of 68.6 percent, or more than 2-1, against Amendment 01-A, is the strongest affirmation of the "fidelity/chastity" clause since it was voted into the Book of Order in 1996-97. If the remaining presbyteries vote on Amendment 01-A as they did on 97-A, it will fail by 49 yes to 124 no votes.
At issue was a motion to remove from the Book of Order the "fidelity/chastity" standard, paragraph G-6.0106b, which states:
"Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament."
The Presbytery of South Louisiana, with 71 no votes and 51 yes votes, was the 87th presbytery and West Jersey Presbytery (80-83) was the 88th to vote against the measure. West Jersey also was the 20th presbytery to switch its vote since the 1996-97 referendum, when it voted against the "fidelity/chastity" standard. In that referendum, Amendment B was approved by a vote of 97-74 (56.7 percent). In 1997-98, the presbyteries voted 114-57 (66.7 percent) against another proposed amendment that would have radically revised the constitutional standard to allow the ordination of practicing homosexuals.
The Presbyterian Lay Committee and other renewal organizations had urged the defeat of the measure. When the Louisiana vote was announced, Robert L. Howard, chairman of the board of the Lay Committee, and Parker T. Williamson, chief executive officer, released the following statement:
"In reaffirming our Constitution, Presbyterians have once again asserted what the Church has declared for more than 2,000 years:
"The definitive standard for what we are to believe and how we are to live is Scripture. This reflects the mind of Christ.
"We pray that those who tend the institutional structure of this denomination will listen to the voice of the Church, and that they will do their duty to preserve and defend the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA)."
The Rev. Thomas P. Sweets, who organized a Presbyterian Coalition campaign to defeat the amendment, said, "The overwhelming defeat of the proposed amendment - the third time the issue has been voted on and defeated in recent years - continues a trend of ever-increasing margins of members affirming the traditional moral ethics of the church."
"While many people have believed that the church might follow the lead of society and begin to accept moral practices that the Bible clearly defines as sinful, the opposite has been the case," said the senior pastor of Madeira-Silverwood Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati.
"In this year's voting," he said, "it is estimated that 49 (28%) presbyteries will affirm Amendment 01.A and 124 (72%) will reject it - affirming the standards of the Book of Order and the Bible. In addition, 41% of individuals have voted in favor of the amendment and 59% have voted against it - the largest margin ever on such issues in the church."
Joe Rightmyer, executive director of Presbyterians For Renewal, wrote in a commentary on that organization's Web site that the defeat of Amendment A "reaffirms that the historic witness of Scripture and our Confessions regarding sexual morality is clear and to be preserved within our denomination. It expresses the church's commitment to unity, both internally as a denomination and ecumenically in fellowship with the Christian church worldwide. And, most importantly, it testifies to continued confidence in the transforming power of the gospel."