From John Roberts’ dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015):
This Court’s precedents have repeatedly described marriage in ways that are consistent only with its traditional meaning. Early cases on the subject referred to marriage as “the union for life of one man and one woman,” Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U. S. 15, 45 (1885), which forms “the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress,” Maynard v. Hill, 125 U. S. 190, 211 (1888). We later described marriage as “fundamental to our very existence and survival,” an understanding that necessarily implies a procreative component. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1, 12 (1967)… More recent cases have directly connected the right to marry with the “right to procreate….
This week my denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, held its 42nd stated General Assembly in Detroit, Michigan. This is the annual meeting and council (synod) of my church, and every pastor has a right to attend and every congregation may send elder representatives. Though there was plenty else going on at the GA meeting, below is a summary of the official actions taken by the assembly…
I was pleasantly surprised to see this recent post by ECO’s Synod Executive, Dana Allin, about going beyond ECO’s Essential Tenets. He celebrates the Essential Tenets, but wonders whether “perhaps we should desire more from our leaders than simply ‘Adhering, receiving, and adopting’ the Essential Tenets.” What prompted this was a series of spiritual conversations where Allin realized that the Essential Tenets were simply too basic to provide enough thoughtful direction.
Why was this a pleasant surprise? Because, as I have previously written, ECO’s confessionalism is too simple and underdeveloped to guide pastoral and theological conversations. They need something more robust, like the historic confessional approaches of the Reformed tradition. A public recognition from ECO’s main leader that the Essential Tenets are inadequate to the task of confessing ECO’s biblical faith to the world is a good first step in that direction.
What is sin? Sin is many things, but at its core sin is lack of conformity to and violation of God’s law (cf. WSC 14, WLC 24). Doing what God forbids is sinful and not obeying what God commands is sinful. Christians often disagree about what God has required in his word, which is why confessions of faith are valuable. A confession of faith is a statement of belief about what God’s word teaches. For the EPC, we believe that the Westminster Confession of Faith with the Larger and Shorter catechisms contain the system of doctrine found in the scriptures. We confess that these documents faithfully represent the truth of God’s word. Other churches may disagree with us, and some in the EPC may disagree with parts of these documents (more on that in a minute), but this is the chief role of a confessional system: affirming what the church believes God has revealed to us about himself and our duties towards him.
The EPC’s motto includes “In Non-Essentials: Liberty”. The idea in the motto, and very much the reality in the EPC’s culture, is that we foster liberty towards one another in areas of non-essential doctrines. People have the freedom to not only disagree with each other on these non-essentials, but are also able to have different non-essential practices. The most notable example of this is the ordination of women…