NASHVILLE, Tenn. Leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) rejected a plan to allow the ordination of homosexuals in the denomination, voting instead to retain language calling for "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."
By April 27, a slight majority of the denomination's 173 local presbyteries had voted against the deletion of the language in the Book of Order, which sets forth guidelines on who is eligible for ordination. The proposed new language would have lacked any standard for sexual behavior.
Alan Wisdom, director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy's Presbyterian Action committee, said the PCUSA has signaled its intention to remain in the mainstream of global Christianity.
"All traditional Christians can take encouragement that the Presbyterians have held the line on sexual morality," Wisdom said in a news release. "They have stood against the cultural pressure to legitimize any relationship between 'people who love one another.'
"They have maintained the Church's historic teaching: that God's provision for human sexuality is found in marriage the 'one flesh,' lifelong, life-giving union of the two created sexes," Wisdom said.
Wisdom noted that the latest vote marked the fourth time in 12 years that PCUSA presbyteries have voted on sexuality standards.
"Each time they have upheld 'fidelity and chastity.' If ever there were a case when the church had made up its mind on an issue, this is it," he said.
Last year the PCUSA General Assembly voted to remove the fidelity and chastity requirements for clergy, and it would have gone into effect if ratified by a majority vote of the presbyteries.
The PCUSA, the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination with 2.2 million members, does have some homosexual clergy, but they have been required to stay celibate since the denomination voted for such a requirement in 1978, according to The Washington Times.