PCUSA Stated Clerk Issues statement of Supreme Court’s action on marriage

PC(USA) Stated Clerk issues statement on Supreme Court’s action on marriage
JUNE 26, 2015

Office of the General Assembly


Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

The 221st General Assembly (2014) and the presbyteries ratified the following definition of marriage:

Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community. …

If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. … (Book of Order, W-4.9000)

Today’s Supreme Court’s decision granting equal protection under the law for same-gender, loving people and allowing their marriages to be recognized in all 50 states is welcomed by many within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Actions of the Supreme Court also allow for religious bodies to continue to teach and practice their faith consistent with their belief system. We recognize that within the PC(USA), there are teaching elders and sessions whose understanding of Scripture and the Will of God will prohibit them from performing or hosting wedding ceremonies between same-gender, loving couples. Neither the actions of the 221st General Assembly (2014), nor today’s Supreme Court decision will require them to do so.

For members within the PC(USA) and the wider society who have prayed and fought for this day both within society and our church, we join you in giving thanks to God for this historic action. We continue to work for the full inclusion of all God’s people in the church and in society and relationships marked by genuine love, commitment, and justice.

The Office of Constitutional Interpretation has prepared a helpful set of FAQs for pastors, sessions, and mid councils to use in response to the decision of the Supreme Court.

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)


  1. Michele Salerno

    Please help me understand. If Presbytery USA agrees with the SCOTUS, and is confident that the Bible provides for same-sex marriage, why does it allow teaching Elders and sessions to disagree and refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages?

    • Jeff Guild

      In Presbyterian belief, God is the Lord of the conscience. Individual freedom in interpreting scripture is a basic tenant of Protestantism. Martin Luther called it the “Priesthood of all believers. Our understanding of scripture does not come entirely from the doctrine of the Church as the Holy Spirit can work through each individual Christian.

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