The PCA and Homosexuality: Let’s Make It Real Plain

The PCA and Homosexuality: Let’s Make It Real Plain

There is a position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, and he practices celibacy because he believes that change is possible (although unlikely), and because he mortifies this sin every day, and because he is of good character in every other way, then he is qualified to hold office in the PCA.

I recently contributed an article about the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) decision on the complaint against Missouri Presbytery (The Recent SJC Decision and Side B2 Homosexuality).  I believe I muddied the waters somewhat by stating the positions of others when some readers thought that those were actually my views. I apologize for that.

It’s time to be perfectly clear.  There are three positions on the status of those men who have made it public that are same-sex attracted (SSA),  that is, have homosexual desires to have sex with other men, but practice celibacy. Should they be allowed to hold an office in the PCA?

First, there is the position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, this automatically disqualifies him from holding office in the PCA.  Even though he practices celibacy, he is not qualified for the office of either elder or deacon. This sin is both an abomination to God and contrary to nature; therefore, he is not above reproach either with those inside the church or those outside the church.  Many of those who take this position regarding the ineligibility of such men to hold office in the PCA have already left the PCA, except for me and maybe a few other people.

Secondly, there is a position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, and yet he practices celibacy, this may disqualify him from holding office in the PCA.  If he remains celibate, but he believes that he was born this way and that there is no hope of change, then he is not qualified to hold office in the PCA.  These men most often believe their sin is no different than any other sin; for example, that of the lust that men have for women not their wives, a dry alcoholic, or the temptation to gamble. They may even believe that their condition is just like a person with a genetic disease.  A person with Down’s Syndrome cannot change his genetic inheritance, and neither can he.

Thirdly, there is a position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, and he practices celibacy because he believes that change is possible (although unlikely), and because he mortifies this sin every day, and because he is of good character in every other way, then he is qualified to hold office in the PCA (this is contrary to my view, but it is the position of most PCA elders).  Some of these men already hold office in the PCA, and they will continue to do so.  They are in good standing with either their own session or their own presbytery. Others like them will soon find a home in the PCA.  I call this man the third man.

The proposed changes to the BCO would allow for the third man to hold office in the PCA, after careful examination by his session or presbytery.  The PCA Study Committee on Human Sexuality states that there is nothing to prevent the third man from being eligible to hold office in the PCA. The recent Standing Judicial Commission decision made it legal for the third man to hold office in Missouri Presbytery.

There you have it. Pretty straight, I hope.  I would add one more thought.  The PCA is a little like the South during the Civil War which believed in states’ rights.  All local presbyteries and sessions have the right to determine their own membership. Regardless of the result of the proposed changes to the BCO, the conclusion of the PCA Study Committee, and the SJC decision, individual sessions and presbyteries will continue to apply the teaching of the Word of God and Westminster Standards to these issues, as they see fit!

Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.

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