Presentation on theme: "A Conversation with Participants at a Marriage Workshop St. Andrews Presbyterian Church July 12, 2014."— Presentation transcript:
A Conversation with Participants at a Marriage Workshop St. Andrews Presbyterian Church July 12, 2014
1976: Our nation’s 200 th anniversary – the Presbyterian denomination is dealing with theological issues. The GA responded by creating a Task Force to Study Homosexuality.
1978: What captured the attention of the Assembly: A subsection, “How to Read the Bible? Problems and Models of Biblical Authority and Interpretation.” Four alternative approaches to biblical interpretation.
Model A: The ordination of people who are homosexual is forbidden on the grounds of the law of God.
Model B: This model came to the same conclusion as Model A but attributed the grounds to the Spirit of Christ.
Model C: Model C argued that ordination of people who are homosexual should be permitted on the basis of justice.
Model D: Model D supported the view of Model C and added love as a further reason for ordination.
1) Recognize that Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, is the center of Scripture. 2) Let the focus be on the plain text of Scripture and to the grammatical and historical context. 3) Depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting and applying God’ message.
4) Be guided by the doctrinal consensus of the church, which is the rule of faith 5) Let all interpretations be in accord with the rule of love = love God & love neighbor.
6) Remember that interpretation of the Bible requires earnest study. 7) Seek to interpret a particular passage of the Bible in light of all the Bible.
Primary source for understanding is Scripture. The creation story implies one purpose of marriage: companionship. “It is good that the man should not be alone...” (Gen. 2:18)
The purpose is connected, though not synonymous, with the earlier injunction for humanity to be fruitful and multiply. Subsequent forms of marriage recorded in the Old Testament are wide.
The New Testament blesses singleness and marriage. Jesus’ own singleness does not come at the expense of binding personal relationships. (I Cor 7:38) Jesus’ sayings about divorce are stronger than anything found in the Old Testament. (Mark 10:11-12)
Yet Jesus also says that the demands of the gospel may pit family members against one another. (Mt 10:35-37) The covenant between God and humanity initiated in Jesus Christ is primary. The promises of marriage are always provisional in comparison to the promise of God’s reign.
An overarching theology of Christian marriage does not exist in our tradition. Calvin and the Reformers rejected the notion of a sacrament of marriage.
They preferred to call marriage an ordinance instituted by God (Second Helvetic, 5.171). Both a sign of grace and a response to grace already given. John Calvin devotes few words to marriage in his Institutes. (Institutes 2.8.41)
The Westminster Confession of Faith = public good. (Westminster Confession 6.131) Notably absent are injunctions of procreation. Sexual union and children are the fruits of the wider good rather than their source.
Contemporary Reformed theology = the healing of brokenness, heralding the relationship that God establishes with creation. Shirley Guthrie: Marriage is “a partnership that reflects the covenant relationship between God and the people of God.” A Christian marriage is an anticipatory event.
“Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.”
The question of same-sex marriage does not enter the interpretive world of biblical authors. In Dr. David Jensen’s opinion, we are warranted in asking whether or not the distinctive strands of our tradition would allow for or prohibit same-sex unions or marriages.
Dr. Jensen: The burden lies in whether proposals for same-sex unions meet the theological criteria for marriages outlined in our tradition. May such unions, as Westminster stresses, serve the common good? Are they dim reflections of God’s covenant with humanity, as the Old Testament suggests?
Do they direct human persons to one another and to the ultimacy of God’s Reign? Do they, as Calvin urged, model restraint from sin and joy in companionship? Do they, however, imperfectly, anticipate God’s communion with all creation in Christ?
Covenant God’s desire for communion with all persons Mutual restraint and joy The response of God’s people The public good
David Jensen: “What Do Presbyterian Say About Marriage” from the book, Frequently Asked Questions About Sexuality, The Bible and The Church: Plain Talk About Tough Issues. Jack Rogers: Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church ; Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.