What about the "already declared?"

I came across this notice this morning about the 1400-400 vote in favor of excluding from ordination those men who “profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions…” [from Overture 23].

Those who are far better acquainted with the PCA process in these matters, would you venture a guess as to how this is going to play out in the next GA or two? Will this split the PCA? Or will some denominational “savior(s)” come forward to bridge what appears to me to be a widening gap?

Also, if this becomes a new standard in the PCA’s Book of Order, what becomes of those already ordained in the PCA who are already declared as “gay Christians” and the like?

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Before this goes into effect, I believe the presbyteries (or churches?) have to vote on it, and then another GA vote. It’s far from a done deal. I don’t know the details exactly. But the percent of required churches or presbyteries matters.

But if it does eventually get passed, then men who have (or do in the future) come out of the closet will need to have charges filed against them by somebody and then they could be tried. The question is which, if any, of the presbyteries will actually convict? And regardless of whether they will or won’t, what will happen with the inevitable appeal to the SJC?

I’m not holding my breath. But I also wouldn’t venture to guess what the end results will be.


Over twenty percent of those 1,800 present, voted against exclusion of “gay Christians” from ordination. I can see all sorts of writing on the wall; if not for now, then certainly down the track, because those 400 voting against exclusion are likely to be in the younger PCA cohort(s).

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Agreed. One thing to have a rule, another to ensure that it is enforced.

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As noted by one of the men in my church about it. You already have 1/3 of your denominational leaders against the measure - and it isn’t even that good. The battle is already lost when you won’t discipline those men.

The other huge gap is the exception clause they give. Basically, if you identify as gay and don’t affirm the 3 things - you’re out. But Revoice affirms all three of those things. Now, they mean very different things by them but they don’t deny them outright.

“sinfulness of fallen desires” - They believe they are sinful, but that they were born that way and therefore exempt from the Christian duty of mortification.

“denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification” - They believe the gay celibate movement is exactly this. To be progressively sanctified is to be more and more celibate.

“failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory” - Again, celibacy is the virtue.

While the conservatives cry victory and the liberals cry foul - the reality is that not one of them will be brought up on charges by this without the ability to weasel out. As pointed out by Andrew Dionne, the original proposed statement of “Men who self-identify as a ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same-sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like term shall be deemed not qualified for ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America” was significantly better because it left no way out.

A picture of the kind of man that exists in the PCA that nobody can figure out might have a character issue: (Covenant grad, Revoice man, and applying for pastoral positions in the PCA)

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2/3rds of the presbyteries have to pass it. Then another majority vote at next year’s General Assembly.

For straight single Christians who for whatever reason can’t marry, celibacy is the only game in town. That said, it took a while for me to realise that what was true for straight, single Christians, simply does not apply to Christians whose inclinations were/are other than straight. I think we need to be quite intentional in saying this.

Either the men who have self-identified as gay Christians will get tired of the situation and get out of dodge, or they will continue to live out as effeminates, avoid mention of being a gay Christian, and affirm the three doctrines mentioned in the new portion of the BCO.

The conservatives are hoping their actions will lead to the gays leaving the denomination because they do not have the heart to discipline effeminacy.

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Keep in mind that the overture come up from a presbytery in Alabama in this form:

“Men who self-identify as a ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same-sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like term shall be deemed not qualified for ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America.”

It was amended to this:

“Men who are known by reputation or self-profession according to their remaining sinfulness (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction, same sex desire, and homosexuality) shall be deemed not qualified to hold office in the Presbyterian Church in America (BCO 21-4; 24-1).”

This form was passed quite handily (88-38-2) and a minority report was threatened. After returning to the overture (even after it passed!), the form @Fr_Bill mentioned was passed almost unanimously and the minority report was withdrawn.

So, when you get a compromise like that, look for the weaknesses and wiggle room. Those who have pushed Revoice in the PCA liked the final tweaked statement.


Isn’t anyone at least hopeful considering that all three resolutions passed by a clear margin? And that the people opposing the overtures didn’t deny the sinfulness of homosexuality. I don’t like the way Johnson qualifies the things he says like a politician but I think a case can be made based on 1Cor9:19-23 that it may be good to acknowledge our sin and specific areas of temptation as an encouragement to others who struggle with the same things. We certainly want people who struggle with homosexual desires to think that the church is a place where “such were some of you” people exist who want to encourage other sinners and not a place where you will be shunned if they find out that you have homosexual desires.

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“No sinner without a future. No saint without a past” (Oscar Wilde, attrib.)

Dear Chris, we’re always hopeful because we know God is in His heaven and rules all things for His Own glory. But man’s history, starting with that recorded in Scripture, records the constant unfaithfulness of God’s people—not to mention those who don’t believe. We connive at sin, commit incest, persecute God’s prophets, refuse to allow the Lord to gather our children under His wings, disobey His commands, deny His authority, disrespect those authorities He has placed over us, demand our ears to be scratched… Do you not find this true?

I’m sure your answer is “yes,” so then we move on to this specific history of one tiny denomination which thinks of itself as reformed and always reforming, and we ask if their annual meeting this summer was a step in the right direction. Didn’t they make some statements about the sin of sodomite-temptation that are in the right direction and aren’t those statements encouraging? Also, is there not some benefit to confessing this sin of sodomite temptation/effeminacy/the gay aesthetic publicly as a way of encouraging others to confess these sins, also?

My own answers are likely not with regard to the first question and certainly not regarding the second.

Concerning the first question, for decades reformed presbyterians (and particularly those belonging to the national non-profit religious association calling itself the “presbyterian church in America”) have demonstrated their hostility to adhering to Scripture or their confessions concerning sexuality—both authority and intimacy. So now we have more words without deeds. This national meeting last month was only words—which are cheap.

Will they follow their words with deeds? Almost certainly not, given their history with Federal Vision where they were all blustery in passing statements against it, but then couldn’t find anyone they knew who actually believed what they condemned. Even two of the main national proponents of the false doctrine they condemned—Jeff Meyers and Peter Leithart—were exonerated by their fellow presbyters. Jeff Meyers was exonerated by his Missouri Presbytery as Greg Johnson has also now been by the same Missouri Presbytery.

When we consider that the present statements just passed are redundant in condemning sins and prohibiting men from holding office who give themselves to those sins (which the Westminster Standards already condemn, explicitly, in their exposition of the Seventh Commandment); and that none of these men supposedly firm in what they did at their annual meeting this year have anywhere used those Standards’ clear condemnations to discipline any of these men brazenly announcing and committing these sins; it would take a most credulous person to think adding a few statements even weaker than what those Standards already declare is a sign that is hopeful.

What reformed men here in the US have been demonstrating for many years is their intense hostility to disciplining anyone other than those who call for discipline. It is simply their coverup of choice to regularly pass statements-statements which usually say things their confessions already said which are things Scripture also already says. So in this latest particular case, we now have modulated statements repeating what the Westminster Standards already say about the Seventh Commandment which are themselves repetitions of what that Seventh Commandment and our Lord and the Apostle Paul already say in God’s Word. And thus our pile of plausible deniability before church members rises.

So no I don’t see reason for hope. As the veteran of two major eras of battles over effeminacy and sodomy carried out in two reformed national religious non-profit associations, statements of national meetings are meaningless when in the conservative direction and meaningful when in the liberal one because liberals discipline conservatives whilst conservatives never discipline liberals. Liberals pass statements in the direction they have the firm will and intention to take us whereas conservatives pass statements merely to unrouse the rabble.

This is not cynicism. This is history and it is repeating itself in front of our eyes. Just watch. Keep your eye on the facts. Greg Johnson has been exonerated by Missouri Presbytery, and he’s just one of many hundreds corrupted by the organization’s Covenant Theological Seminary, which continues to sit and preen itself on its pedestal. If Greg Johnson and the hundreds of Covenant grads who are as wicked in their brazen promotion of sin leave this national, non-prophet, religious organization, it will almost certainly be their own choice to do so. What is most likely is that he and his filthy “church” will get tired and leave.

To the second question, maybe yes? Maybe it’s good for men to speak up about their sexual temptations as an encouragement to other sinners suffering the same temptations to come forward and confess them also, having the fellowship of similar believers and thereby knowing no temptation has taken us which is not common to man.

So now, John Doe here wants to talk to us about his love for goats and his desire to copulate with them. He has a zoophile aesthetic and is calling a conference hosted by his church and planned and staffed and attended by his fellow grads of his Covenant Theological Seminary with the goal of helping other believers living with goats who lust after them but have together committed themselves to celibacy to be accepted by the church just as they are—which is celibate!

Some here will take umbrage at this comparison, but will not produce any Biblical and doctrinally sound explanation for why it is illegitimate.

Effeminacy and sodomy are sexual perversions everyone everywhere and always has known are common among us. But they are also sins that we have covered by a modesty panel because of how contagious they are and the terrible shame Scripture attaches to them. “Degrading passions.” “Abominations.” Sodomy, incest, and bestiality are sins so terrible that God Himself has barely spoken of them in His Word, and then only with great restraint.

So now we’re supposed to escort them out of the closet and gab about them because it is helpful to other sodomites, pedophiles, and zoophiles. Now we hold conferences and publicize these sins and the sinners lusting after them because, supposedly, it’s good to know one another’s struggles and be encouraged by each other’s victories over temptations?

No. Just no.

Every church has these sorts of sins in them, and there’s no reason to gab about sodomy without also going on to encourage all the pederasts, murderers (abortion, for instance), child rapists, thieves, liars, and child rapists in the church to come out of their closets and commence gabbing and networking, also.

Readers might be tempted to think this is harsh, but it’s not. It’s understanding the nature of these temptations and having true love for those suffering under them—a true understanding and love fierce enough to work for their protection, as well as the protection of others suffering similarly awful and shameful temptations. We have former effeminates, gays, lesbians, the incestuous, thieves, etc. in our congregation, and they are healed, by God’s grace. People know them. People know it, but no one gabs about it. Our former shame is covered with modestly panels which both protect God’s gift of shame while also presenting no obstacle to those who have repented strengthening those presently in the battle for repentance. The rule is sotto voce, if you know what I mean? This befits degrading passions and abominations.

Which is the very opposite of Revoice. So no, some annual meeting of this or that small group of reformed presbyterians passing this or that modulated statement of an earlier less-modulated statement sent up to them by a southern presbytery is no smallest act of resolve towards repentance.

With love,

Not because I am the author or have taken any single cent of royalties, but because there’s really nothing like it for getting a better understanding of these things, please do get a copy of our The Grace of Shame and read it.


Are the votes by secret ballot, or are the presbyters known as to how they voted?

We have a copy of The Grace of Shame, I think I have read it twice. I liked it and in a sense I wish that your way of handling people with homosexual temptation was the wisest and most biblical way but I wasn’t convinced by everything you said.

I don’t doubt that I don’t know the full context of what is happening in the PCA. However you seem to be making some pretty specific accusations about the PCA and the burden of proof is on you to be specific when you are making the accusation.

With regard to the the matter of degrading passions. Assume for a moment that we all agree that the degrading passions you cited are sinful, what exactly is wrong with a man admitting publicly that he is tempted to zoophilia? My answer is that out of love for neighbor we should avoid disturbing people with the things we say. Hearing a man speak about zoophile desires is so shocking that it would probably cause some people to think about that sin every time they saw that man. Some would be tempted to think of coarse jokes, others would simply be disturbed. Certainly a man with homosexual desires should avoid detailed descriptions of his desires or experiences out of love for neighbor; men with normal desires should usually avoid talking about their desires for women out of love for neighbor. I don’t doubt that objectively there is no qualitative difference between homosexual desire and zoophilia or pedophilia, but in fact our culture has reached the point where homosexual attraction is not disturbing to people in the same way as those other sins. In that sense I think it is fair to say that though it is a degrading passion, in our present day it is not disturbing to other people in the same way as zoophilia and in that sense it is more like the lust of normal men for women. There are plenty of men’s conferences and programs focused on avoiding unlawful lust, perhaps that is unwise but if so it isn’t apparent to me.

Now I am no admirer of Greg Johnson but I do believe in justice and if you look at the Gospel Reformation Network Facebook page there is a posting on 6/24 for an article called "A Response to Greg Johnsons’s Interview and Johnson provided a lengthy response. In it (point 4) he claimed “I do not now, nor have I ever described myself as a gay Christian. I have deliberately avoided that couplet because I am a man and a Christian. Those are my nouns. My experience of same-sex orientation, while a significant part of my story that has cost me greatly, does not define me.” Now I dislike many of the things he has said and his support for Revoice, and he may be guilty of “studying arguments” but it isn’t apparent that he has given himself to sexual sin, not even close. Is there a particular sin that he has committed in this that you think the PCA is ignoring? He may show a lack of pastoral wisdom by linking himself to Revoice but as long as Revoice acknowledges that the only legitimate sexual relationship is between a man and a woman in the marriage covenant I don’t think you can say that his involvement in it is sinful.

I know that you have a lot of experience ministering to same-sex attracted people and I don’t, but I think you need to make a careful distinction between matters of pastoral wisdom and matters of sin and I can’t help but think you have conflated the two.

Chris Marr

Dear Chris,

This is a nebulous statement, dear brother. Why do you wish it?

But never mind. The book makes no claim to being a manual for ministry to those tempted by sodomy. We don’t give any method. Rather, we explain the necessity of restoring the sin of effeminacy to the sin list of the Apostle Paul in Scripture and disciplining that very soft-manism that is everywhere among us today. Also the necessity of restoring the shame of sodomy and effeminacy which Scripture presents and affirms, but which everywhere has been denied and removed by the Church the past forty years. If you disagree with the book, these are the two things it says and I have little question what you don’t like. And yes, I think it’s a like/dislike thing. Scripture’s condemnation of soft men and its condemnation of sins against God’s creation of male and female are extremely hard sells today within the Church where men such as you have never heard them from their pulpits other than in the safe truncated forms of keep your body parts from sin and don’t marry someone of the same sex. Which is to say keep the outside of your cup clean, but don’t worry about conferences that celebrate the filth of the inside of your cup. Just look and don’t touch.

So, for instance, you argue against the restoration of shame, and the substance of your argument is that the shame of sodomy is gone. And you tell us the reason for shame is only to keep from harming innocents, leaving me wondering if you read the book at all? You say you read it twice, but how could a man read the book twice and miss the point that the shame is a gift of God to those tempted by that abominable perversion of sodomy? You don’t mention the grace of shame to the man caught in the grip of that shame. Sure, shame is a graceful gift also because it is a protection to the innocent who might fall into the temptation through talk of what is shameful, but that wasn’t our argument at all. Not that it isn’t another and smaller reason to restore shame, although you say what’s gone is gone (without quite adding “and good riddance”).

Let’s leave the book you wish you agreed with, moving on to my actual response to your argument that the actions of the PCA’s assembly are reasons to be hopeful. You didn’t deal with or answer them, brother, and this is typical of reformed men who deny effeminacy is a sin and shame is a gracious gift of God that needs to be restored. Specifically, you did not respond to the argument that discipline is what is the proper response to these sins, and that there is no discipline at all.

I suppose you could respond that you did answer that objection by pointing out that Greg Johnson has committed no sin, so where’s the fault of not disciplining a man who is righteously handling his particular temptations?

Which brings me to the final thing I’ll say: you failed to respond to the argument of the book and my previous response to you personally that the Westminster Standards are as explicit as Scripture in condemning the very sins of Revoice. By name. Specifically, and yet you avoid the subject (just as all the PCA men have, and consistently so).

This leaves me unwilling to engage you seriously. You leave the wickedness of effeminacy to the side and defend the death of shame. You are silent on the actual sins spelled out in Scripture and our Standards which are boldly described, discussed, and committed by Revoicers and their supporters.

It would have been much better for you to argue here against the Westminster Standards’ warnings about the duties required and the sins prohibited by the Seventh Commandments. That is where your attention should be focussed, dear brother. You say you don’t like Revoice, but not one thing about what it is you dislike, nor why. You say you wish you liked the book more and you don’t like Revoice and all these things are very cloudy to you, and that I should stick to wisdom and not claim sin in opposing these things. This and that might be wise and you might wish and time has moved on and you can’t turn back the clock and stuff…

Brother, the man who has read Scripture’s words concerning effeminacy and sodomy, as well as the Standards’ treatment of the Seventh Commandment, if he knows the wickedness of his own lust and concupiscence, is firm in opposing the downgrade of sexual sin which presently occupies Christ’s Bride. This is what you give no indication of working towards other than some nebulous statement of what you wish had been true.

There is more I think and could say, but I don’t think this argument is being conducted in good faith, brother. I’d recommend you find a church where you will be called to mortify your sins. Life is short. Hopefully yours,