Thursday, August 11, 2005

PUP Won't Make Ordination Recommendations

The Presbyterian Outlook is reporting today that the Theological Task Force for Peace, Unity and Purity will not take a position on ordination of non-celibate homosexuals. The link is here for those who want to read the Outlook's story.

The Task Force draft states that it "was not asked to take a position on human sexuality or ordination and we have not attempted to do so". However, your average member in the pew who may have been following the work of the group was certainly not under that impression. Most expected a recommendation on this controversial subject from the group.

The Outlook says that the PUP will issue draft recommendations but they won't be forthcoming until after their last meeting August 24-25. We will have to wait until then to see what they have in mind.

St. Cassarole had a post and a number of comments on the work of the PUP yesterday which are worth reading if you are interested.


reverendmother said...

I'm probably not your average member in the pew--I was at the GA when the task force was created and have read avidly on the subject--and even *I* was under the impression that they were charged with this task.

From a Presbyterian News Service article:
LOUISVILLE - October 4, 2001 - General Assembly moderator Jack Rogers and his two immediate predecessors - Syngman Rhee and Freda Gardner - have appointed a 21-member task force that will try to help the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) out of its current theological malaise.

...The task force was authorized by this year's Assembly... "to lead the PC(USA) in spiritual discernment of our Christian identity in and for the 21st century …… seeking the peace, unity and purity of the church.

The group, which will make annual progress reports and a final report to the 2005 Assembly, will address "but not be limited to issues of Christology, Biblical authority and interpretation, ordination standards, and power."

I guess they are addressing the issue, just not resolving it.

Of course, their lack of a definitive statement will be in itself be seen as a statement. Let's see... (gazing into RM's crystal ball) Most people on the left will see this as an opening to keep fighting to change the Book of Order, and many if not most on the right will be disappointed at the lack of clarity. What do you think, Grace?

Quotidian Grace said...

I think your analysis is accurate.

I feel a bit less foolish to hear
that someone like you who was at the GA when the Task Force was
created also thinks they were charged with addressing the ordination
issues. I was starting to think I had really overlooked something important.

I do think that some on the right will interpret the failure to address the issue as an endorsement of the status quo, even if the final report tries to explicitly disavow it. I predict several overtures to change the BOO and several to tighten up or reaffirm the
existing provisions with regard to ordination standards will come
before the 2006 GA.

It's hard to imagine that the final PUP report will persuade the warring factions to lay down their arms and practice war no more, isn't it?

I hope I'm wrong.

will spotts said...

I don't think you're wrong. The Task Force was kind of expected to make a recommendation.

However, I noticed early on that they were focussing more on the conversation, and figured that is the direction they would try to go.

Personally, I'm convinced honest conversation would be good -- without inflamatory rhetoric, but without false compromise either. I'm just not persuaded they have created a tool to facilitate this. I expect the kind of conversation to evade the major issues. If that is the case, then both those who believe this is a justice issue and those who believe that it is an issue of biblical faithfulness will be unable to participate and maintain their integrity.

I find this tiresome because I do not believe this is the most dire issue or division we face. How we read the Bible, what we believe Christianity is, and what how we believe it teaches us to live are areas of far greater division.

As far as our political divide, I think that can be fixed if we agree not to try to pull the church into taking partisan stands on issues not essential to Christianity. So far, we have done a very bad job at this. (True of both conservatives and liberals, though in the PC(USA) on the national level, liberal activism is the error.)

As a side note, I was disturbed that this issue seems to be our fracture point. While I agree that the fidelity-chastity clause was a correct biblical interpretation, I find it odd that this was not emphasized when the issue was widespread divorce (which can't be reconciled with Jesus's teaching on the subject) or heterosexual extra-marital sex. They are, of course, included in the fidelity-chastity clause, and all three were included originally -- it's not as if these were new requirements suddenly added. Those of us who are conservative need to be very certain that no part of our consideration is bigotry. (I honestly don't believe it to be for the majority, but I can't rule it out.)

Lisa said...

I have read the PUP draft report. Seems like much ado about nothing. Sounds like a 5-year love bible camp. We all agree to disagree. We, of course, don't agree..but now after 5 years of getting to know each other personally, we don't want to hurt each other's feelings by making any recommendations.

This is all well and good but how much money was eaten by this committee? I'm glad they feel warm and fuzzy but I wonder if that is going to help the church at large.

Maybe it will. Maybe I'm too harsh. Perhaps love and conviction are mutually exclusive in the "don't hurt anyone's feelings" world we have created.