Pittsburgh Declaration on Marriage
July 6, 2012
The following is a declaration issued by concerned Presbyterians at the close of the General Assembly in Pittsburgh. They are responding to the Assembly’s refusal to usurp God’s authority and redefine marriage from a man and a woman to any two people who have a marriage license. Fellow Presbyterians are invited to add their name to the Declaration on the right of this screen.
The definition of marriage remains unchanged. No General Assembly has the power to redefine marriage. No government has the power to redefine marriage. No public opinion poll can alter the nature of marriage. God is the author of marriage, and God alone has the authority to define marriage. We will obey God.
Jesus told us what marriage is. Answering a question from the Pharisees, he pointed back to God’s design in creation: “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-6a) We have no Lord but Jesus.
The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) still upholds this biblical understanding of marriage. The Westminster Confession teaches, “Christian marriage is an institution ordained of God, blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ, established and sanctified for the happiness and welfare of mankind, into which spiritual and physical union one man and one woman enter” (6.133). The church can bless only the relationships that God blesses. It has no authority to bless that which God does not bless.
The Book of Order still says, “For Christians, marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship” (W-4.9001).
Whatever others may do, our consciences are “captive to the Word of God as interpreted in the standards of the church” (G-2.0105). We will continue to resist any efforts to depart from the biblical, confessional teaching on the marriage of man and woman.
In the face of our culture’s devaluing of marriage, we will offer a Christian counter-witness in our congregations, communities, and families. We commit ourselves to teach, practice, and celebrate the “great mystery” of marriage: God’s gracious gift by which the two created sexes, male and female, “become one flesh” with a love that images the love between Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5:31-32). To God be the glory!
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