A conservative, evangelical Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Mark Achtemeier, speaking at an event associated with the PCUSA General Assembly 2014, has described the Church’s error on gay marriage as an “unprecedented spiritual disaster” that is undermining the credibility of Christian witnesses for an entire generation. The disaster he describes is not that of the church moving to accept marriage equality, but its long delay in doing so. Rev. Mark Achtemeier, who used to be associated with the evangelical, conservative wing, and like many others used to be actively opposed to same – sex marriage. (Even after becoming an outspoken advocate for LGBT inclusion in church, he describe himself as an “out, self-affirming, practicing conservative evangelical”).
There are several important points to note in Rev Achtermeier’s journey, from opposition to firm advocacy for LGBT inclusion and marriage equality, some of which I discussed some years ago, reporting on his own description of it in a paper, “And Grace Will Lead Me Home”
- His change of heart began with a process of listening, to the real life stories gay and lesbians that he met – and the recognition that their love for their spouses and their families, was pretty much one of a kind with his own, for his wife and children.
- Support for LGBT families did not come by abandoning his firm belief in scripture and commitment to conservative, evangelical theology, but from a deeper understanding of what that commitment required.
- He is far from alone: the PCUSA’s own research shows that in just seven years from 2005 to 2012, support for gay marriage among Presbyterian pastors leaped from 35% to 49% – a clear plurality over the opposition, which slipped from a slight majority (51%) to just 41% by 2012. This trend will continue, as pastors continue to engage with listening to stories of LGBT families in their congregations, and study more deeply the relevant biblical and theological considerations.
Here’s the opening of a report of his address, from a reliable Presbyterian source. (Read the full report at The Layman Online)
Achtemeier: ‘An unprecedented spiritual disaster that is taking place beneath our noses’
“The church’s error in this issue is undermining the credibility of Christian witness for an entire generation,” the Rev. Mark Achtemeier told the audience at the Covenant Network of Presbyterian luncheon on Monday.
He was speaking of the PCUSA’s current stance on same-sex marriage, at an event was held in conjunction with the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Achtemeier, who used to be identified with the evangelical, conservative wing of the PCUSA, changed his mind on the issue of gay ordination and same-sex marriage in recent years and just published a new book, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart.
Achtemeier quoted several Barna surveys that showed young people were leaving the church and many cited the rules and attitudes about homosexual issues as the cause.
“These are people who have enough residue of the gospel in their hearts,” he said, “that the teaching of exclusion does not sound like Jesus. It’s not a true picture of the King.”
“This sounds to me like a gospel emergency,” he said. “I don’t see who the disciples of Jesus could not step forward to address this error. … This is an unprecedented spiritual disaster that is taking place beneath our noses.”
Read more at - The Layman Online.
- “And Grace Will Lead Me Home”: A Conservative, Evangelical, Theological Case for Gay Marriage
- Faith leaders call for gay marriage (trib.com)
- Will US Presbyterians Approve Gay Church Weddings? (queeringthechurch.com)
- “God and the Gay Christian”: Religious Conservatives Are Running Scared. (queeringthechurch.com)
- Presbyterians Celebrate Equal Marriage: “For the World Is About to Turn” (queeringthechurch.com)
- Anti-Gay Views Are Not a Faithful Part of the Reformed Tradition (shuckandjive.org)
- English Bishop Apologises for Hurt to Gay People. (news.queerchurch.com)