Magazine article The Christian Century

Presbyterian High Court Clears Pastor of Censure for Same-Sex Weddings

Magazine article The Christian Century

Presbyterian High Court Clears Pastor of Censure for Same-Sex Weddings

Article excerpt

Because the blessings of two lesbian couples were called "unions" or "weddings," not "marriages," the highest court in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has reversed a lower court's censure of lesbian clergywoman Jane Spahr, who performed the rites in California.

"It is not improper for ministers of the Word and Sacrament to perform same-sex ceremonies," ruled the Presbyterians' Permanent Judicial Commission in a decision released April 28. "At least four times, the larger church has rejected overtures that would prohibit blessing the unions of same-sex couples."

The case hinged on language in the church's Book of Order, which defines marriage as "between a woman and a man."

"By the definition, a same-sex ceremony can never be a marriage," the high court ruled. "One cannot characterize same-sex ceremonies as marriages for the purpose of disciplining a minister of the Word and Sacrament and at the same time declare that such ceremonies are not marriages for legal or ecclesiastical purposes."

Same-sex ceremonies and marriages should remain different, the court declared. …

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