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Beliefnet News

Presbyterian Court Clears Minister in Gay Marriage Case

(RNS) The top court of the nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination has found a Boston minister not guilty of violating church rules against performing gay marriages in a narrow ruling that keeps the church-wide ban in place.
The Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Saturday (Feb. 2) cleared the Rev. Jean Southard on charges she violated church rules and her ordination vows by marrying two women in 2008 in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal.
The wedding took place before the PCUSA had determined, later in 2008, that the ban on same-sex marriage is “mandatory” for ministers, the 16-member court ruled. The court said that ruling should not be applied retroactively to Southard’s case.
Clergy in the PCUSA, which has about 2.2 million members, are allowed to bless same-sex relationships, but are not permitted to “state, imply, or represent” those ceremonies as marriages. A regional church court in California found a minister guilty of that offense late last year.
Four members of the high court issued a concurring opinion arguing the PCUSA should lift its ban on gay marriages because it marginalizes gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
In a separate concurring opinion, three court members said Southard should have consulted with church officials before officiating at the same-sex ceremony.
Southard said in a statement, “I am saddened that this verdict does not make it possible for ministers to do the good and loving thing for their parishioners without the fear that someone will accuse them of violating church law.”
– DANIEL BURKE, Religion News Service

  • Your Name

    Odd that a church has to have a court in the first place. Doesn’t seem like the ‘court’ is even interested in justice if they’re going to continue this obviously unjust ban.

  • pagansister

    I’m glad she was “cleared” by the church court for doing the right thing, but saddened to know the Presbyterian court finds it necessary to follow archic rules as to marriage. Yes, YN, it does seem weird that there is a “court” to begin with, connected with the church. Guess it is the “rule” making body of the church?

  • Henrietta22

    She’s fortunate her marriage was conducted on the right side of their “court rules”, otherwise she would be gone. The Methodists have several high positioned people who want to take their understanding of what is right for the Homosexuals and change their Methodist Disipline laws next year when they all pow wow together again.

  • cknuck

    It not only violates church law but clearly it violates God’s intent, design and law concerning marriage. The bible warns of the world’s ways and instructs not to be like the world (in but not of) sad that churches confuse what’s of the world with what’s of God.

  • DavidKCMO

    remember this: everytime you use god as an excuse and a justification for your bigotry, he has to show up in court to defend himself and his views on anything. SNAP!!!!!!!

  • cknuck

    Dave, calling sexual practices abnormal is not bigotry, God does not have to defend himself, especially concerning sin. by the way your “SNAP!!!” is so lame it’s funny.

  • pagansister

    cknuck, did you read the article about all the sex,(incest included)infantiice, violence, wars, etc. that are in the book you like to interpret? Why in the world would anyone want to use that book as a total guide for one’s life? Most folks know that the Bible has some pretty graphic stuff, and yet it is considered “holy”? Just happened to think—the monks who copied it must have had a great time—early porn. How, after reading all that stuff, one can still promote marriage as “one man and one woman” and claim that God said so, is beyond me. It is just a BOOK—pretty good parts in it, but still just a BOOK. It has nothing to do with telling 21st century folks how to live. I know—it’s to show that God will get you if you don’t behave. The stories are to illustrate wrong behavior. Hummm.
    Actually, one could use those messy parts to back up their claims that war is fine, murder is fine, incest is fine etc. After all, they are in THE Bible, right?

  • cknuck

    The “book” as you put it is not for silly immature people who don’t consider it holy any more than it is for folk who use it for those who use it for selfish gains or control. Yes it is a total guide for life and I am blessed to have it. Life is messy, graphic and full of all of that stuff you seem to be attracted to and yet avoid by living safe. Sure you don’t know why people would put their faith in the bible (the book) but what you don’t know could build a universe and more.

  • pagansister

    cknuck, I expect I have lived as long as you have, and I’m not blind to the things you mention. As to what I don’t know and the building of a universe? The same could be said for eveyone—you included. What is boils down to is the Bible is interpreted by everyone in a different way—thus it is by no means perfect in any way. Oh, silly and immature? Interesting.
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • cknuck

    I had a great Valentine’s day my wife sent me the edibles thing. Thanks for the good wishes I hope you enjoyed the odd holiday.

  • pagansister

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Day! I too had a good one. Your wife sounds like she knows what you like—the “edibles thing”. Yum. I agree it is an odd holiday but fun.

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