A Statement of Conscience

Passed by the Session of the Calvary Presbyterian Church,
San Francisco, California
on June 9, 1997


The close vote in the presbyteries on Amendment B shows serious division and disunity in the church. We find ourselves in deep pain over the passage of this amendment, and cannot in good conscience support it. The amendment is inconsistent with our reading of scripture and with the Reformed tradition. We summarize our objections as follows:

 

The amendment says: Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church.

We respond: Our obedience is to Jesus Christ, and to him alone, as attested to in scripture. All other standards, including the confessions, are subordinate.

The amendment says: Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage of a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.

We respond: The primary standard for all human relationships, sexual and otherwise, is the love of Christ.

We cannot be party to a standard for sexual behavior that precludes the possibility of responsible sexuality within any loving, committed relationship, or that focuses solely on fidelity and chastity.

The amendment says: Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.

We respond: Sin, as understood in scripture, is much more radical than the scope of behaviors proscribed in the confessions. Our need to repent is much more profound; our reliance upon the grace of God more complete.

We cannot be party to so narrow an understanding of human sin.

 

We affirm Calvary as a place of tolerance, welcoming all those who want to follow Christ, and accepting all who wish to serve, according to their gifts. We trust those charged with choosing and ordaining officers to weigh the whole person. we will not divide our community by focusing on issues of sexuality at the expense of our broader mission to serve Christ.

Therefore, with reluctance and humility before God and our sisters and brothers in the church, we raise our voices in opposition, and covenant together to:

 


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