In Support of Amendment 10-A: Time to Move On

Recently our son has been looking for a church home.

Although he was raised Presbyterian, he asked me if I knew of good Open and Affirming United Church of Christ (UCC) congregations.  I opened my mouth to tell him about Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) churches, like ours, that are Covenant Network and More Light congregations.  But it only took a moment’s reflection to see it from his point of view.

            He is a gay man who, while he appreciates the work done to make the PC(USA) more welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, has no interest in a church where his very identity is an issue. He has better reasons to be in church than to fight for his equality. Nor does he want to put his time and energy into a church that is still enmeshed in debates about the legitimacy of his sexual orientation.

            And he is not alone. Americans increasingly reject the idea that gays and lesbians should be discriminated against.  A recent poll found that even in the last year Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage.[1]  The same poll found that among white mainline Protestants a plurality (49%) now favors allowing gays and lesbians to marry.  This does not even account for those who support civil unions.

            Certainly in this context the current language and history of G-6.106(b) that prohibits the recognition of the validity of same-sex intimate relationships is counter-productive to our pursuit of the great ends of the church: (1) the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; (2) the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; (3) the maintenance of divine worship; (4) the preservation of the truth; (5) the promotion of social righteousness; and (6) the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.[2]

            This is a special concern at a time when increasing numbers of people – especially young people – are rejecting religion altogether.  A new book, American Grace:  How Religion Divides and Unites Us, finds that “[t]he most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation” in large part because young people are increasingly seeing religion “as intolerant, hypocritical, judgmental, and homophobic.” [3]

            Isn’t it time to recognize that our current experience with gays and lesbians seeking recognition of their affirming, healthy, monogamous relationships within our churches is an entirely new thing in history?  Our battles over ordaining gays and lesbians are increasingly irrelevant and a turnoff to the very people we want to attract to and keep in our congregations.  How can we proclaim the gospel for their salvation when we are increasingly seen as impeding, rather than promoting, social righteousness?  And is this any way to exhibit the Kingdom of Heaven to the world?

            It’s time to move on.  It’s time to replace G-6.106(b) with a more gracious – and actually more rigorous – standard for our leaders.  The language of Amendment 10-A is language that can inspire, rather than divide and repel members and potential members.  It’s time to turn our attention to questions such as how to revitalize our churches and speak to our country and the world as authentic and relevant witnesses of God’s love in today’s world.

            Surely that’s a big enough job.   And we can’t do it effectively while we’re still telling people like my son and his loving partner of 10 years, his brother, the rest of his family and his friends that we can’t agree on whether or not we can accept him as an equal member of our churches.

            I’m tired of this fight.  Aren’t we all?  If our presbyteries vote to adopt 10-A, this will be the end of a long, painful battle.  It definitely is time to move on.


KIRSTEN KINGDON is an elder of New York Avenue Church, Washington, D.C.

[1] “Support For Same-Sex Marriage Edges Upward,” Pew Research Center, Oct. 6, 2010.

[2] Book of Order, G-1.0200.

[3] Quoted from “Walking Away from Church,” by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, authors of American Grace in the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 17, 2010.  The book is published by Simon & Schuster, Oct. 5, 2010.