Presbyterian Church In America Changes Rule To Disqualify Gay Men From Leadership In Ministry

A pastor preaches at the church during the quarantine

The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) voted to change its rule on ordination, forbidding gay men from holding ministries in the denomination.

In an aim to keep the officers of the church "above reproach," the Presbyterians passed a resolution that would ban the ordination of homosexual men, known as "Overture 23," The Christian Post reported.

"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," the modified rule says.

The modification was approved on July 1 during the PCA's General Assembly in Missouri, 1,438 delegates voted in favor of the change while 417 individuals opposed, the Religion News Service (RNS) wrote.

Scott Barber, the Overtures Committee chairman, said that they spent more time on Overture 23 since it was "a hot topic" in the denomination.

Barber shared that the overture does not intend to exclude gay Christians who retain their celibacy. Instead, it points out to individuals who have homosexual identities contradicting the characteristics of "new creations in Christ."

But Rev. Greg Johnson, senior pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, opposed the modification.

"We don't need to amend our constitution to make a non-affirming denomination (hostile) to gay people who want to follow Jesus in celibacy," he told the RNS.

Johnson grew up as a "gay atheist" and was only converted to Christianity when he was in college. Though his faith did not change his sexuality, it has convicted him to live as a celibate, conforming to the church's biblical doctrine on intimacy.

He blamed the "ex-gay movement" and conversion therapy, which he claimed, are making the evangelicals believe that homosexuality is curable. He addresses this issue through his upcoming book, "Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church's Failed Attempt to Cure Homosexuality".

 Moreover, the pastor is concerned about the overture's impact on the younger generation, adding that the church's poor treatment of the LGBTQ people has already caused young adults to leave conservative groups such as the PCA.

"This is a time to grieve," Johnson further stated.

However, supporters of the rule's modification celebrated the change.

Bart Harmon, from Southeast Alabama Presbytery, called it "most consistent with the gospel" and "compassionate."

In addition, Erick Erickson, a conservative Christian commentator, called the approval "a strong vote for Biblical sexual ethics."

The amended rule will need to be approved by two-thirds of PCA's regional churches, as well as another approval by majority of the General Assembly delegates next year in Alabama, before it becomes effective.