Numerous competing overtures… Anguished pleas for unity… Dire threats from left and right… All 2019’s PCA General Assembly needs now is a ringmaster. But you’re a God-fearing commissioner to General Assembly and you want advice on how to proceed amidst all the overtures? Well, you can take off your thinking cap, you won’t face as many decisions as you might assume from looking at the overture list. Many brighter and better-connected people at GA are fully willing to think for you…. General Assembly’s Bills and Overtures Committee will do its best to remove any overture with potential for real reformation from consideration on the floor.
But you still want to know about the various overtures dealing with sexual issues? Here’s a short guide.
- Overture 4 from Calvary Presbytery to, “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’ on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration.”—The Nashville Statement is a product of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Which means it’s weak. For a better version of the Nashville Statement, see this “Fortified Version.” Don’t bother fighting for this overture if it sees the floor. It’s nothing more than a delaying action.
- Overture 11 from Fellowship Presbytery to, “Commend and Distribute RPCNA’s ‘Contemporary Perspectives on Sexual Orientation: A Theological and Pastoral Analysis.’”—While there is significant good in this RPCNA document it falls sadly short in addressing the issue of gay identity by its poor treatment of the meaning of “malakoi” which ignores the overwhelming lexical evidence that this word refers to effeminate character in favor of assuming it refers to the catamite in the homosexual sex act. In other words, it misses the boat altogether….
- Overture 28 from Westminster Presbytery containing, “Affirmations and Denials regarding Homosexuality.”—This is a good set of affirmations and denials on homosexuality, thus it’s unlikely to see the light of day outside committee at GA. If it does, it will be rejected as replicating what has already been written. And that’s the problem with most of these shoring-up-the-breach affirmations and denials. They don’t substantially improve on previous statements or on the Westminster Standards, thus they constitute rear-guard attempts at preserving an already-eroded status quo.
- Overture 30 from Illiana Presbytery to, “Establish Study Committee on Same-sex Orientation and Gender Identity”—See concluding comments below…
- Overture 35 from Savannah River Presbytery to, “Affirm the PCA’s Commitment to the Sanctity of Biblical Sexual Relationships.”—A poignant overture in that it merely asks GA to reaffirm prior statements about homosexuality, including Larger Catechism questions 38 and 39 and statements from the fifth, twenty-first and twenty-fourth General Assemblies. Of course the problem is that these confessional standards and statements have proven little more than bubble wrap in the ongoing crisis over homosexuality in the PCA. These bells have already been rung. What’s the use of ringing them again when they woke no one the first time?
- Overture 37 from James River Presbytery to have GA endorse their recommended, “Assembly Statement on Same-sex Attraction”—Don’t waste time on overtures asking for more statements by GA. Especially statements as vacuous as this which seems to be little more than an attempt to demonstrate an ability to sympathize with both sides in the current debate.
- Overture 39 from Southern New England Presbytery to, “Re-commend the Previous Statements and Study Reports of the PCA in Regard to Homosexuality”—A little voice asking, “Didn’t we once do something about this problem? Didn’t the RPCES say something about this?” A half-hearted attempt to resurrect past statements that didn’t keep us from getting into this situation in the first place.
- Overture 42 from Chicago Metro Presbytery to, “Establish Study Committee on Sexuality.”—See concluding comments below…
- Overture 44 from Ohio Valley Presbytery to, “Establish Ad Interim Committee to Study Human Sexuality.”—See concluding comments below…
- Overture 45 from Missouri Presbytery to, “Form an Ad Interim Committee to Seek Consensus on Doctrinal Boundaries and Pastoral Care in the Current Debates About Sexuality.”—The mother-ship overture from the presbytery responsible for the Revoice conference seeking an ad interim study committee on sexuality.
Overtures 30, 42, 44 and 45 seek, in one form or another, the same end—a study committee to bring consensus to the PCA on sexuality.
What type of consensus will this be? A rallying around biblical truth? A return to statements in the standards and reaffirmation of past GA statements and actions? You silly thing. You don’t actually think that consensus forged via a study committee report on a subject as biblically plain as homosexual desire and gay identity will be founded on Scripture’s clear teaching, do you?
Consensus as sought by Missouri Presbytery is nothing more than the fighter tapping out in the UFC. He’s getting killed. He knows it. The opponent who’s killing him knows it. The referee knows it—and is about to stop the match. The audience knows it. There’s consensus, but it’s the consensus of victor and vanquished, the consensus of Neville Chamberlain’s Munich Accord, of Vichy France and Quisling Norway.
So you’re a God-fearing commissioner who wants to take a stand for God at GA this year? Here’s a suggestion: file charges. Don’t seek consensus. Spoil the party by defying the consensus. File charges. Stand at the microphone and move your complaint against GA. Speak for God. Have nothing to do with study committees and consensus.