Monday, October 13, 2008

The PCUSA ordination battles feel like a couple going through a divorce.

First, a dahlia update before the post. The dahlias in the order they appear: Bristol Stripe, Cafe au Lait, Calamity Shane and Camano Sitka.

Now... on to the post.

Over they years I have known many couples that have had marriage problems. There were many causes of these marriage problems. Money, or lack of money, can cause marriage problems. There were those marriages where one person was a Christian and went to church and the spouse was not a Christian and did not go to church. There was the husband who "forgot" he was married the Monday after the honeymoon and went out drinking with the "guys" after work for hours--totally forgetting that he was married and had a wife waiting for him at home (that marriage lasted less than a year).

There were those marriages that had problems due to marital unfaithfulness. There was the pastor that fell in love with the church pianist and kicked his wife out of the house. There was the wife having an affair and flaunting it in her husband's face (she told him that she liked having sex with the other guy and she was going to keep on doing it, when ever, and where ever she could). There was the man who had had dozens and dozens of affairs. There was the man who wanted a divorce (because of an affair) but didn't want his name to appear in the newspaper as the one filing for divorce so he left a woman's panties in the laundry. The list could go on and on.

Some of the marriages mentioned above were able to survive the challenges--many were not.

Troubled marriages can survive when the couple is "heading in the same direction" -- that is, they hold the same goals and beliefs--they are able to agree on key items of their beliefs. Compromise is a prerequisite.

The PCUSA's ordination wars feel like a marriage that is failing. The "marriage" can be saved if both sides are willing to compromise. But, is compromise possible? One side believes that there is nothing wrong with sex outside the bounds of a marriage of one man and one woman. These folks believe that it is a "justice" issue and thus cannot compromise. The other side believes that such sexual practice goes against God's clear teaching in scripture and is sin and thus cannot compromise. Both sides firmly hold their beliefs. There can be no compromise from these two positions.

The marriage is doomed to fail!

This past General Assembly reminds me of the couple where the man left the panties in the laundry to try and force the woman to file for divorce. Our Book of Order still contains the prohibition of sexual activity outside of the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman for ordained persons. Now enters the new strategy--change the rules by bypassing the Book of Order-- adopt a new "Authoritative Interpretation." To adopt a new Authoritative Interpretation" is like telling the other side--"feel free to leave if you want." They tried (and succeeded?)changing the "rules" without having to get a majority of Presbyteries to agree. Those putting the Authoritative Interpretation forward had to know what the effect would be. They aren't stupid!! They want the Evangelicals to leave the PCUSA so that they can do what they want.

Can the PCUSA be saved? Some say "yes." Some say "no." Only time will tell. All I know is that marriages fail when the partners hold differing opinions about key issues. Do those in the PCUSA have enough "agreement" on key points that they can stay together as one denomination.

The Presbytery of Olympia's General Council has put together a "Possibilities Task Force" to see how, or if, we have a way to go forward into the future together. This group is made up of people from all across the theological spectrum. The group tried to find common ground at one of its meetings. They couldn't agree on anything!! Not even the nature of God! I believe that this task force mirrors the PCUSA. We do not have a bright future if we cannot even agree on the nature of God.

Are we headed for "divorce?"

Sahara Desert sand storm.

As I have mentioned, our daughter is serving with a mission team in the Sahara Desert. Here is a photo of the sand storm that hit their region last week. Her Muslim friends are use to having sand storms--but nothing like this!!

sorry about not posting...

Pastoral duties have kept me swamped (funeral, wedding, illness in the congregation, etc.) Will start posting again tomorrow.