Final debate... listen to the spin

The Presbyterians in the US, according to the story in the New York Times, gave final approval to the change of the definition of marriage to include same sex (Gay and Lesbian) couples. The language of the first line is telling: "After three decades of debate over its stance on homosexuality, members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Tuesday to change" In other words the debate is now officially over. No one can vote again; no one can bring up the subject again; no one can debate again. Isn't that what their language indicates?

If that be so, then the debate was really a 'wear down' by one side over against the other, the more traditional side.

"“Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community,” said the Rev. Brian D. Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which advocates gay inclusion in the church. “There is still disagreement, and I don’t mean to minimize that, but I think we are learning that we can disagree and still be church together.”

In other words, the debate is over, and although there is still disagreement, the Rev Ellison is declaring the conversation over; the debate is closed. The vote is now final.  The genie is really out of the bottle. And it's not going back inside.

Is that the way debate works? Is that the way denominations face hurdles of discord? I think the Presbyterians and others have much to consider in the decade ahead. But first, they who were the mainline church for many will now become more of a sidelined organization. Although they will officially welcome homosexuals, their numbers will officially plummet and they will become 'just another' formerly glorious place of God's working. Shame.

Spin matters. Final conversation will yet to be had. Watch this space.

 A version of this article appears in print on March 18, 2015, on page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: Largest Presbyterian Denomination Gives Final Approval for Same-Sex Marriage.

The NYTimes article is here


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