Despite what some Fundamentalists would have you believe, evolution and adaptation have been a constant in Christianity. Even before Luther nailed his theses to the door and Henry VIII got remarried (and remarried and remarried…), early Church leaders were debating essential issue like transubstantiation, celibacy for clergy and even which books could be counted as part of the New Testament.
In more recent times, the Catholic church has amended its views on Jews and the Latter Day Saints no longer think of Africans as intrinsically evil. (As Brigham Young once said, “The Lord had cursed Cain’s seed with blackness and prohibited them the Priesthood.”)
The latest wedge issue, homosexuality, has led to a disagreement over openly gay ministers and a break between the U.S. Presbyterian Church and the more conservative National Presbyterian Church of Mexico. After a 139-year relationship, the Mexican church has now voted to sever ties with its neighbor to the north.
Last May U.S. Presbyterians voted in favor of ordaining clergy in same-sex relationships, upsetting both conservatives at home and in countries where the denomination had spread its faith through mission work. Even as the Mexican church voted 116 to 22 to terminate the relationship, more conservative American Presbyterians are gathering in Minnesota to discuss whether they too should break with the denomination over LGBT issues.
“We are grieved by their decision, but we want to emphasize that we are grateful for their witness and our history together,” says Hunter Farrell, the U.S. church’s Director of World Mission, of the vote. “And [we] will listen carefully as we engage in dialogue about where God is leading us in mission.”
Image via Art Mallinson