Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Amendment 10-A & the monstrosity that is coming

One of the more troubling aspects of the possibility of Amendment 10-A winning in the Presbyteries is the thought that some are voting yes because they are weary of the battle over GLBT ordination standards. And in fact this was one of the issues that Sacramento’s presenter for 10-A brought up. That is the need to get beyond all of the conflict and simply do mission. Those Presbyterians who feel this way have no knowledge of the monstrosity waiting out beyond the boundaries of gay ordination and same gender marriage.

It has been noted that during at least two presbytery debates, one was Sacramento, as well as a Christmas letter published by the More Light Presbyterians, heterosexual sex out side of marriage was lifted up as a reason for deleting the Fidelity -Chastity clause from the Book of Order. But there is much more to follow.

In 1991 a report, “Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality, Spirituality and Social Justice” on human sexuality was rejected by the General Assembly of the PCUSA. In that report both GLBT sex and heterosexual sex outside of marriage was lifted up as gifts given by God. In 2003 a book was published by the LGBT community that utilized some of the authors and words of that rejected report. The book is Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice Love. The Editors of the book, Sylvia Thorson-Smith and Marvin M. Ellison, state that all of the authors in the book were asked to review the rejected Presbyterian report.

Much of the book, in reality reminds the orthodox reader of the spiritual outlook of the ancient biblical Canaanites who worshipped the gods and goddesses of fertility. It is a picture of what our tomorrows may be like if we do not care now about honoring Christ and his church.

One author, Robert E Goss, quotes from the sexuality report about how erotic pleasure grounds people in an ethic of justice and love and then he goes on to write:

The theological notion of justice love does not preclude erotic relationships other than pair-bonded, monogamous relationships, and yet, we should note, Christian exploration of single sexuality and polyamory [having more than one intimate relationship at a time] is only at its ethical infancy.
In other words, the above kinds of sexual relationships are okay, they just have not been given enough exploration. The writer goes on to write about how personal pleasure must expand into an ethic of community, but in doing so he sees other deviant sexualities as acceptable, writing:

Erotic connecting of bodies means that gay bodies are connected erotically and joyfully, producing and inventing pleasures. Gay indigenous ethics has often echoed the ethical norms of “safe, sane, and consensual” of the S/M [sadomasochism] subculture. While these norms may be useful for individual sexual encounters, they remain too narrow for gay Christians because they reduce sex to the realm of private pleasures. Good sex, although pleasurable, is not a sufficient end for a Christian, for good sex must be expanded beyond private pleasures to integrate justice.
In other words, it isn’t the type of sex that is the problem, instead it is the private pleasure that does not affect anyone else.

I see two immensely troubling thoughts about this quote. One is simply that the author’s notion of some parts of an ethic of sex includes accepting pain. For him it is okay if it is consensual. The other idea is the notion that a whole worldview about ethics and justice should be grounded in, not just sexuality, a frightening idea in itself, but rather in deviant sexuality. So the justice we will now promote and work toward if 10-A passes is a justice not grounded in the cross of Christ but in deviant erotic sexuality.

Throughout the book on Body and Soul, the idea that human sexuality is both a revelation and a connector to God is promoted. For instance, Rebecca Todd Peters writes, “If we start with woman’s bodily experience of sexuality as a window into the divine, its very mutability can offer insight into refining the way we think about God/ess.” In an earlier posting I explained how Scott Haldeman saw his passive position in gay sex as a revelation of God’s attributes.

So the monstrosity that will enter the church with the passage of 10-A is a worldview founded in deviant sexuality with an emphasis on justice as it grows out of such sexuality. Combined with such a worldview is a pagan view of spirituality that insists that all sexuality is a door and connecter to God. A yes to 10-A will almost immediacy allow the authority of Scripture and even confessional authority to be put aside, it will eventually cause God’s revelation in Jesus Christ to be disregarded.

To lay aside this battle is to enter a far bigger one which can only end in a denomination shattered in every direction. And rightfully so-it will be the judgment of God. It can only end with the sheep of God’s pasture wounded and wandering. How can anyone refuse to be bothered by the very battle which belongs to God’s calling?


tera said...

I cannot believe that any church would be saying these things. Are you sure you aren't taking this out of context, Viola?

I have a very difficult time believing that the PCUSA intends to lift up non-committal sexual relationships. What is your evidence that you have upon which you are concluding that this is so?

It sounds unbelievable to me. I don't want to question your facts or the interpretation of them, but I feel that there can be absolutely no way that you are correct in these allegations you've made here and in some previous posts.

If what you are saying is true, this is not biblical, from my perspective - to allow people to say that sex was not intended for a committal relationship is absolutely not scriptural as far as my knowledge.

Could you provide further documentation on how you arrived to the conclusions you've shared with us in these blog posts alleging that the PCUSA is actually promoting this type of thinking?

Thank you.

Tera Billes Sacramento, CA

Craig's Build said...


I believe that Viola referenced the report from the "Justice Love" committee, and a book entitled "Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice Love.", why not start there.


Thanks for reminding us of where these folks would like to head. Could you drop me an e mail at I'd like to run something past you.

Twin Cities MN

tera said...


I know, but I understood that they PCUSA rejected the reports. So, what is the problem? There are always going to be people that come to the table with extreme ideas. They usually never win from my experience. That's all I have more to say unless Viola wants to provide some more evidence to back up her speculations about what she predicts is going to happen.

Viola Larson said...

I did e-mail you this morning. Just so you will know, in case, for some reason you didn't get the e-mail.

Pastor Bob said...

Tera the GA in 1991 (I think) did not approve the report but made it available for study. And just because the GA didn't approve the report that didn't stop people from believing what it said and pursuing it as an agenda for the Church. I recommend a study of it (it is available from the GA publishing house). It does show how a minority in the denomination thinks. And some of those who continue to support it use it as a basis for their arguments around 10-A. Arguing that heterosexual sex outside of marriage is ok and is part of the report. So is the statement that that adultery is acceptable in certain circumstances.

What is most important is to see the assumptions underlying the report which the authors helpfully put at the beginning.

Curiously a pastor who has sex outside of marriage whether adulter or fornication can and will be brought up on charges which if proven will result in censure by the presbytery, a removal from the ability to exercise the tasks of the office of a pastor and will probably get you into counseling. I have seen this applied in cases of married people committing adultery and single people committing fornication. There is only one case that I know that brings disciplinary charges against a homosexual who stated on the floor of a presbytery meeting that he was in a sexual relationship with another man. That case is making its way through the courts of the church.

If I understand you correcting you seem to think that the PCUSA should have no standards in relation to sexual behavior. As I stated in my earlier comment on facebook a governing body can set standard which may not necessarily be right but still have the right and responsibility to do so.

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your concern given your views, but the real monstrosity, as I see it, is this kind of rhetoric.

If this is an example of what is coming, then I agree, a serious sad monstrosity is coming.

I respectfully urge you to examine yourself, your methods, and your motives.

Steve Blair
San Diego, CA

Viola Larson said...


A question.
Does it matter to you if the PCUSA considers polyamory acceptable?

If so why?
If not, why not?
What does the authority of the Bible mean to you?

tera said...


Thanks for your clarification. I'm not attending a Presbyterian church any longer, just FYI. I do think it's OK to have some kind of "moral conduct" clause. All service leadership positions usually have such a clause, even secular positions.

I'm not really sure what the concern is about all of this - are pastors not able to be fired by a majority if people do not think they are doing a responsible job?

I would think that less is more, so that if someone is not liked by the church, it is easier to get them out of the pastoral position. If there are lots of rules to go by and you can only fire them if they break one of those rules, then that doesn't give the church body much flexibility or power.

I don't know how the governmental procedures work with the church and I'm not a person who would want to be involved in politics.

Tera Billes Sacramento, CA

Anonymous said...


This may be water under the bridge, but you asked a couple of questions.

Q1) Does it matter to you if the PCUSA considers polyamory acceptable?

A1) The assumption behind the question is wrong. The PCUSA is not a monolithic entity or person that is capable of considering or not considering polyamory acceptable. Even if there were a specific provision in the Book of Order that specifically stated a consideration, no member of the PCUSA is required to accept it as a condition for membership. Even an ordained elder is allowed to declare a scruple against a provision in the BoO. Rather, the PCUSA is a community of God's people with the widest range of beliefs and expectations. Asking if it matters to me what the PCUSA considers about a topic is like asking if it matters to me whether it rains cats or whether it rains dogs.

Q2) If so, why? If not, why not?

A2) This question is also moot.

Q3) What does the authority of the Bible mean to you?

A3) What does it mean to you? Most people who introduce an argument with that rhetorical question intend to follow it up by claiming that the authority of the Bible has somehow been passed on to them, and that to disagree with them is to disagree with the Bible, and to disagree with the Bible is to disagree with God. I don’t know if you intend to follow that kind of reasoning, but just asking me that question pushes that button because, see, I have run into it before. I do not want to put words in your mouth, but if that is your intention, then don’t bother. Other than insulting my intelligence and my faith, it means nothing to me.

That being said, as the word ‘bible’ itself is meant to convey, the Bible is a collection of books. Wonderful books, full of the Living Spirit of God, books that give hope and joy and sustenance. As the author of Timothy says, they are filled with the very breath of God, and are an immensely useful gift of the Holy Spirit to the people of God. But in the reformed tradition, “authority’ does not lie with the Bible as an object, or an interpretation of the Bible, or even with any human being, but rather with God alone. This is in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church that puts the authority of the Church and the Pope above any other.

There is of course the reformed tradition that says that to interpret the Scriptures, one must rely only on Scripture, (sola scriptura) rather than on human authorities. It prevents anyone from relying too much on what Church appointed authorities claim is correct biblical interpretation, and also it permits anyone who so wishes, to read and understand the Bible through the Holy Spirit for themselves. More even than the printing press, it was ‘sola scriptura’ that made the Bible accessible to the masses.

If that is what you mean by “authority of the Bible”, then I subscribe to it 100%.

Steve Blair
San Diego, Ca

Viola Larson said...

Thank you for answering one of my questions, I wish you had answered all of them.I really wondered what you would say.

I am sorry you have no opinion on the other two.

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