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UCC considers marriage equality for gays

It will be interesting to see if The United Church of Christ, which weathered wingnut bashing over the “God is still speaking” national TV ad campaign, can handle some disagreement from within regarding the acceptance of gay marriage. I am sure the Freepi are going to rip the UCC on this one. (UCC):

The 1.3-million-member United Church of Christ could become the first mainline Christian denomination to endorse full marriage equality – regardless of gender – if a proposed resolution is approved by the church’s General Synod this summer.

The controversial measure, brought forward by the UCC’s Southern California – Nevada Conference, became public today (April 21) when proposed resolutions facing the church’s national assembly were made available online at ucc.org/synod. The UCC’s biennial General Synod – with about 3,000 delegates and visitors – will meet July 1-5 at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta.

“Ideas about marriage have shifted and changed dramatically throughout human history, and such change continues even today,” reads the opening line of the proposed resolution, which goes on to spell out historical, theological and biblical rationale for affirming both civil and religious recognition of same-gender marriage.

It marks the first time the church’s General Synod has been asked to address the issue of marriage equality outright.

…In past years, the General Synod – which speaks “to” but not “for” the UCC’s nearly-6,000 congregations – has sidestepped the issue of same-gender marriage, even while it has affirmed the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons; called for full civil rights and equal protections; and blessed the idea of “equal rites in covenant life” (or holy unions) for non-married couples.

The proposal is certain to be met with opposition from some UCC members, pastors and churches. Already, eight geographically-diverse congregations already joined together to offer a counter resolution calling the church “to embrace the scriptural definition of marriage.”

“Throughout the scriptures, marriage is always defined as being between one man and one woman,” the counter resolution states. “We find examples of those who violated God’s natural moral order to their own detriment, but God’s standard and definition remained constant.”

The Rev. Brett W. Becker, pastor of the 300-member St. Paul UCC in Cibolo, Texas, who authored the one-man, one-woman resolution, said he believes the UCC should be prophetic in its defense of “traditional, biblical marriage.”

The Southern California – Nevada proposal argues that, throughout history, marriage has been an evolving institution, pointing to earlier times when polygamy was biblically normative, women were considered property and interracial marriages were not only taboo, but illegal. “Ideas about marriage have shifted and changed dramatically throughout human history,” it reads.

Becker, however, claims otherwise in his counter resolution: “The scriptures never define marriage as being anything other than the union of one man and one woman.”

Said Becker, speaking about his proposal, “We should be loving toward all people, regardless of what issues they are dealing with, and if we truly love someone we will encourage them to avoid those things that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus.”

A third marriage-related document, brought by the Central Atlantic Conference, takes a more-cautious approach by asking the church “to enter into prayer, study and conversation” about marriage equality, including a review of “cultural practices, economic realities, political dynamics, religious history, and biblical interpretations.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding