On June 16, the Overtures Committee voted 49-23-2 to answer Overture 43 in the negative. The overture, submitted by Savannah River Presbytery, calls the General Assembly to do the following:
. . . to go on record expressing its gratitude to and prayers for corporations, public and private for-profit and non-profit entities, chaplains and others who have taken a stand for the sanctity of human life, and to the Christian men and women in private businesses facing fines, penalties, and ostracism for declining out of religious conviction to provide their services for same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Considering that the denomination already holds a firm stance on the issue of homosexuality (as expressed in Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 24.1-2), the majority of commissioners believe that issuing such a statement to the public would do more harm than good. Particularly for those ministering to those in the gay community, such a statement might create additional barriers to sharing the gospel by singling out this particular sin over others.
“It does a real disservice to those in more cutting edge environments trying to be salt and light,” one commissioner said.
Others questioned whether this is the issue we want to be known for as a denomination. Another commissioner pointed out that the Assembly doesn’t typically issue a series of press releases stating its position on all issues–such as concern for the poor or opposition to greed. Why make a statement about this particular issue and not others, especially since it is difficult to express the complexity and nuances of this stance to a culture that operates in sound bites?
Those in favor of the overture, however, said that such a statement simply shows solidarity for those who have been ostracized or boycotted for their commitment to a biblical view of marriage. TE Fred Greco informed the Committee moderator that a minority report will be issued.
“We hope through the creation of a minority report to give the Assembly an opportunity to choose to pray for Christians who are facing difficulties, and who feel the pressures that society is bringing upon the church. The intent isn’t to single out any particular sin or to provide a comprehensive list of things we should pray for, but rather to express gratitude to the Lord for sustaining Christians in times of trouble.”
The minority report will be posted as soon as it becomes available.