Presbyterians, including myself, like to think of ourselves as people of the middle way, people who grab and appreciate both ends of a theological argument. I believe that allowing a diversity of opinions strengthens our Church. When our General Assembly meets, we invite ecumenical representatives and invite them to express their views on matters of global importance; people we agree with and those who would challenge our thinking.
But do we really make room for those who hold a minority opinion, those whom the majority discerns as wrong.
Another pastor likens our celebration of the Lord’s Supper to a family dinner where a litigious brother, a crazy aunt, a doddering uncle, and a free-spirit cousin can sit at the same table and enjoy a common meal, embracing our commonality while allowing for our differences.
Changing the definition of marriage has embroiled many Churches in conflict as progressive and evangelical theologians increasingly find reasons to set aside long held, practices that formerly limited marriage to one man and one woman.
Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are now considering an amendment to the Directory of Worship that would broaden the definition of marriage to “two persons traditionally a man and a woman.” Interestingly this amendment neither explicitly includes same-sex marriage nor does it bind either pastors to perform or a congregation’s board of elders to host “marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God.”
I am hopeful that this amendment will all the Church to embody Paul’s boast to the Corinthians:
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
— 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NRSV)
Some prefer to switch rather than fight, leaving one denomination for another to avoid those with whom they disagree. Yet, as another pastor eloquently stated: “We are called to bring light into the darkness, and not to take the light of Christ out of the room.”
How might you celebrate God’s grace and work to advance the Kingdom of Heaven with those whom you disagree?