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Yes, you violated our stupid anti-gospel rulebook

Timothy Kincaid

August 27th, 2010

Jane Spahr is in trouble again. A lesbian Presbyterian Church (USA) minister in Northern California, she has for years been dancing on the very edge of the church’s policy towards gay couples.

In 2006 she was convicted in church court for celebrating gay unions, but in April of 2008 the church’s highest court decided that as she had not actually quite broken church rules because the ceremonies she celebrated were not marriages.

But then along came the California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage. And what do you suppose Jane went and did?

Yep, you guessed it. She conducted legal same-sex marriages.

So now again the regional court has found Spahr guilty of breaking the rules. (AP)

A regional commission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled 4-2 that the Rev. Jane Spahr of San Francisco “persisted in a pattern or practice of disobedience” by performing the weddings in 2008 before Proposition 8 banned the unions in the state.

But while they found her “guilty”, they made it perfectly clear that they supported her guilt.

At the same time, however, the tribunal devoted most of its 2 1/2-page ruling to praising the 68-year-old pastor, a lesbian who founded a church group in the early 1990s for gay Presbyterians.

Spahr was acknowledged “for her prophetic ministry” and “faithful compassion. The commissioners called on the broader church to use her example “to re-examine our own fear and ignorance.”

“In the reality in which we live today, marriage can be between same gender as well as opposite gender persons, and we, as a church, need to be able to respond to this reality as Dr. Jane Spahr has done with faithfulness and compassion,” the ruling stated.

The tribunal gave her a “reprimand”, the church equivalent of “Naughty girl, Jane, shame on you. Would you like a lollipop?” Because while they condemned her breaking of the policy, their real criticism was toward the policy itself. (LA Times)

“In addition, we call upon the church to reexamine our own fear and ignorance that continues to reject the inclusiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the decision said. “We say this believing that we have in our own Book of Order conflicting and even contradictory rules and regulations that are against the gospel.”

Spahr will appeal the verdict. The PC(USA) may well be next in the line of mainline churches who are finding ways for their congregations to honor the same-sex couples in their midst. And until they are fully inclusive, Jane will be there prodding them on.



August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I find the idea of Church Courts odd, there is nothing like that here that I know of. How common are these in the US?

Lindoro Almaviva
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I’m not sure how common they are but the catholic Church still has them. They have used them in modern heresy trials and more recently in the Pedophilia scandal. Church tribunals are also in change when a couple looks for a church divorce (harder to get than a secular one0 and a nullification of marriage.

Church tribunals are also used when a person is wanted to be declared a saint.

L. Junius Brutus
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Church courts are not actual courts, of course. It is just a commission that determines whether the rules have been violated or not.

Mark F.
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Since Presbyterians believe in predestination, why don’t they just accept this as the will of God?

August 27th, 2010 | LINK


Why is there no coverage here at BTB about the Target campaign donation & the reaction to it? It’s basically one of the most prominent LGBT-related news items floating about the blogosphere, and I go here for not just such news items, but analysis as well. Deafening silence from you lot though. What’s up guys?

Richard W. Fitch
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

The letter of the law is so much more important than the Spirit of the law.

Matthew Gatheringwat
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I have a hard time getting worked up about this kind of thing. I think religions have the right to define themselves however they want–they are voluntary organizations. If her beliefs differ, why not join a religion that actually welcomes gay people? Sometimes, I wonder what’s in it for people who make a career out of being an unwelcome “prophet.” Instead of all that effort to change people who don’t want to change, why not support people with whom you already agree?

Ben in Oakland
August 28th, 2010 | LINK

“Instead of all that effort to change people who don’t want to change, why not support people with whom you already agree?”

And there you have the dilemma, except just the opposite of what you might think.

Protect marriage? The only way to do that is to attack same sex marriage.

August 28th, 2010 | LINK

Kudos to the US Presbyterians for having lesbian churches. :D

Gentle Lamb
August 28th, 2010 | LINK

Why would they stay in the Presbyterian Church ?

August 28th, 2010 | LINK

Well, the PC(USA) punted at their General Conference last month — there were several resolutions condemning same-sex nuptuals and reaffirming the rule in opposition, and several resolutions to alter their rules and affirm same-sex weddings, and they voted through a study document in “answer” to all of those pieces of business.

I’m not sure whether the PC(USA) or United Methodists will be next to officially bless same-sex marriages — but by 2020, both will. It’s just a matter of time and age.

Lofn G
August 30th, 2010 | LINK

Why doesn’t anyone just start their own new denomination? Isn’t that kind of the point of even having protestantism?

This is why so many youths are now turning to atheism. When one chooses a church, they are offered the choice between a church who considers homosexuality a sin, and a church that allows it, but pretends it isn’t happening. We deserve more options here. We should be able to choose a denomination that can help us develop and discover our spiritual selves without conflicting with what we believe to be true. We deserve more churches that AFFIRM our relationships, and doesn’t oppose or ignore them.

Even if current denominations start accepting same-sex relationships, the damage has been done. Many people just aren’t going to come back. And why should they? You want to save religion, go form a church. Don’t try to revive a church that no one would give a second chance to.

I respect those who want to try to save old churches, but you have to know that many of us can never go back now, and if you really care about reaching people, you need to think about how we feel. I was lucky enough to find a church where I live that actually affirms gay people. Will I be so lucky when I move back to Texas? Will my children feel any desire to look for a church? Shouldn’t we think about what we can do for them?

August 30th, 2010 | LINK



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