Shuck and Jive

Friday, August 10, 2007

Banning Gays from Church Membership

Rev. Jim Berkley of the IRD posted an opinion on his blog, Officially for Presbyterians is Homosexual Practice Sin? As I understand his argument, he suggests that the PCUSA's policy also applies to unrepentant practicing gays to be members. I posted the following comment:


I applaud your straightforwardness here. I think your decision is quite logical. I argued your viewpoint in 2001, although from a 180 degree perspective. I also commented on this policy last year.

I hope you will move forward with this. It may finally wake up the moderates so we can remove this hateful policy at the 2008 General Assembly.

By the way, I will soon make a comment about this on my blog.

Grace and Peace,

The latest move from the right (if Jim's viewpoints are shared more widely) is to affirm congregations that do not want gays as members let alone officers. It appears that the movement is to ban gays from membership, let alone ordination, in PCUSA churches.

Truthfully, I think Jim's movement is an uphill battle. But it is time for the PCUSA to remove these harmful, hateful, anti-Christ policies. Be bold.


  1. John

    Just so you know, Jim is a friend of mine too. And I know it upsets you but Jim is accurately quoting and interpreting the 1978 Definitive Guidance.

    What really surprised me was the Moderator's letter. Maybe she knows of congregations that deny membership to people because of their sexual orientation but I don't know of any.

  2. Bob,

    That is my point exactly. Our policy is bad news and it needs to be eliminated. Moderates like our moderator, Joan Gray, is apparently just now discovering how vicious the anti-gay movement is in the church.

    Just for the sake of conversation, what if Paul had not written Romans 1:26-27, and the whatever it is passage from Corinthians. What if that verse was not in Leviticus.

    In other words, what if the Bible from your viewpoint did not condemn same-sex relationships, would you then be supportive of same-sex individuals being full members of churches, being ordained ministers, having their relationships blessed by the church and the state?

    Is it for you, really the Bible?

    I have people say on the floor of presbytery and in other places, that they would fully support same-sex relationships if it weren't for the Bible.

    I have heard a similar argument about hell and so forth. They wouldn't want folks to go to hell but they believe that the Bible insists that God does.

    I am not doubting sincerity here. But if true, it seems odd to me that people would go against their very own consciences of what is good and right because of a passage or theme in the Bible.

  3. I am curious if Jim Berkley speaking strictly for himself on this subject, or the right wing front group that he is associated with is involved in this effort.

    I am also not sure what to make of the fact that the very first comment posted to Berkley's message of hate was a gushingly friendly response from the pastor of a San Francisco Presbyterian church that styles itself as super-hip. Based on that, it doesn't sound like Mission Bay church would be the kind of progressive community that I would be interested in visiting.

  4. Hey Seeker,

    I know the IRD spends a lot of money influencing the Methodist church. In a recent case over there, a UM church court ruled in defense of a minister who prevented "an unrepentant homosexual man from church membership." The IRD spilled a lot of ink on that check here

    What I find creative about the IRD is that whether they are after the PCUSA, UMC, or TEC, they use the theological jargon of each--but always to the same end, to trash the gays and those who support them as well as any social justice policy of each denomination.

    But it's all about the Bible, eh?

  5. Seeker,

    I know Bruce and Mission Bay quite well. You do him a disservice if you judge him on such a shallow basis.


    I'm in full agreement, this is a hateful policy. Our denomination needs to change its official stance. It's disgraceful.

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  7. John

    You asked what I would think if the passages about homosexual sexual behavior were not in the Bible. I think it is more complicated than that because I see a theme about heterosexuality in the Bible. I know many who agree with you think that people like me are taking verses out of context and misinterpreting the passages that I think talk directly about homosexual sexual behavior. My friend Jack Rogers is one of them. I see those verses as part of a larger theme, so let me reframe the question. If the Bible said that homosexual sexual behavior was equal pleasing to God as heterosexual sexual behavior, (within the context of a committed relationship for each), or if there was no theme about heterosexuality and no passages about homosexual sexual behavior, I would have no problem saying that homosexual sexual behavior is fine, approved by God. And I would say so at Presbytery meetings, here, and on Presbyweb. But they do exist.

    Therefore, since I believe conscience should be tied to the Word of God, I would say that my conscience would change the theme and the passages did not exist.

  8. Aric, if I do him a disservice, then I offer my apology. I do not know him, of course. It is possible that he is as offended by Jim Berkley's hatemongering as I am. I only noted that it did not give me a very positive feeling to see such a friendly response from him to Berkley's post, but it may well be that this does not represent an accurate picture of his feelings on the subject.

  9. As I said earlier, Bob, lack of proof is not necessarily proof of lack. The Bible was written by people who had no concept of sexual orientation. Even if one believes that the entire King James dropped out of the sky one summer evening in the 17th century, it is logical to assume that a Divine author would know that at least 90% of His audience would be heterosexual.

    In other words, you find no themes regarding air travel, either. It doesn't mean that God disapproves.

    Back to the original topic, one of the arguments I hear from the right is that the reason that mainline churches in general and the PC(USA) in particular has been shrinking over the past 40 or so years is that we are not too accepting of the gays.

    Think about it: the reason our church membership numbers are declining is that we do not exclude enough people from membership.