- We must accept that we are a minority-- ALL of us, whatever side we take in the current disputes-- inside this culture. The culture and the church are no longer coexistential, if they ever truly were. We follow the Christ the head of the church, not the culture.
- None of us truly knows what God is up to in this time. We all have our guesses, our timelines, and our storylines that prove that we were right all along. But no one really knows God's timeline or storyline. God is going to have to sort this out in God's own time.
- We have to start finding ways to move toward each other, instead of doing the easy thing, which is lobbing bombs and rallying "us" to fight "them."
So, a path to coexistence probably has a good chance of being rejected by both Left and Right; it will not necessarily be acceptable culturally. The only people who will find it are people who are willing to look for it; the only way to look for it is to look together, "us" and "them;" and both the looking, and the uncomfortable coexistence, are going to last for an indeterminate amount of time. I am ready to accept these realities, coming from the evangelical side of the PC(USA).
So, with those ground rules, I move toward those who disagree with this idea: let issues of sexuality and ordination be issues of church discipline; and let us make our peace that church discipline will be exercised at different levels in different cases in different places.
What does this mean? It means an acceptance of the people shaped by the culture that we live in, without making undue accomodation to that culture. An example is divorce. We accept that people divorce in this culture, even though Jesus is overtly condemning of the practice. But that acceptance of divorced people into ordained office is done person-by-person, not always with the same results. There are persons who will be ordained despite being divorced, and there will be persons who are not ordained because they are divorced. Decisions are made pastorally by those upon whom the spiritual responsibility of deciding has been placed. In some places, divorce may never be seen as an issue in ordination, while in others, it is always an issue.
But if the Church should declare that a service celebrating divorce shall be offered, that divorce is a gift of God, and that there is no sin in divorce, the issue of divorce has moved from a matter of church discipline into a question of whether divorce is a positive good. If the PC(USA) were to mandate such a change, I-- and I believe a lot of others concerned with following the Scriptures-- would not be able in good conscience to comply.
Let differing bodies exercise their responsibility to discipline and decide as God leads them; let those who disagree with their decisions have a place at the table. Let conscience on both sides be held in peace, and let Jesus Christ the head of the Church judge the work of each in His time, as He will. But for this path to work, issues of sexuality and ordination must remain matters of church discipline.