On Thursday, June 19 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) made a very strange decision for a church. The General Assembly made some wonderful step forward in being open and affirming. It opened up the definition of marriage to include same sex partners. That was a great step forward. It voted to give clergy in the PCUSA the right to perform marriages of same sex people In states where such marriages are legal.
That is the strange decision. If the PCUSA now believes that it is acceptable in the eyes of God for some of its ministers to conduct marriages of same sex people, why does the PCUSA also think that in the eyes of God it is not acceptable for ministers to perform those weddings in states where it is not legal? I certainly understand that ministers who wish to perform those marriages in states where it is not legal would be engaged in acts of civil disobedience, but they why should they also be conflict with church policy? If it is acceptable for a minister in a state which has made legal same sex marriage, why would it not be acceptable for a minister in a state where the state has not made it legal, to conduct a marriage in the church with the blessings of the church?
This decision seems very much like the PCUSA is letting the state decide for it whether or not same sex marriages are acceptable. Since when did the Christian fellowship allow the state to decide what is just, honorable and moral for Christian people? We Protestants have had a long history of refusing to let other bodies tell us what is "Christian." Luther refused to let the Roman Catholic Church tell him what was theologically true. The Quakers in England told the Parliament that slavery was not just. Part of the great movement of civil rights has been lead by religious people telling the state that some of the laws are not acceptable.
We have gotten into great trouble when we have allowed the state to tell us what is morally right. We have gotten in trouble when we tried to make our ideas of morality into law. The country is working hard to separate the state from the church. Why in the world would the PCUSA decide in 2014 to let the state tell them when they can conduct marriages when they have said that marriages between same sex people is acceptable in the eyes of their church?