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A Conversation with Participants at a Marriage Workshop St. Andrews Presbyterian Church July 12, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "A Conversation with Participants at a Marriage Workshop St. Andrews Presbyterian Church July 12, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Conversation with Participants at a Marriage Workshop St. Andrews Presbyterian Church July 12, 2014

2  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.

3  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.

4  Model A: The ordination of people who are homosexual is forbidden on the grounds of the law of God.

5  Model B: This model came to the same conclusion as Model A but attributed the grounds to the Spirit of Christ.

6  Model C: Model C argued that ordination of people who are homosexual should be permitted on the basis of justice.

7  Model D: Model D supported the view of Model C and added love as a further reason for ordination.

8  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.

9  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.

10  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.

11  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)

12  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.

13  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)

14  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.

15  An overarching theology of Christian marriage does not exist in our tradition.  Calvin and the Reformers rejected the notion of a sacrament of marriage.

16  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 )

17  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.

18  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.

19 “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.”

20  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.

21  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?

22  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?

23  Covenant  God’s desire for communion with all persons  Mutual restraint and joy  The response of God’s people  The public good

24  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.


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