Monday, April 6, 2015

GPTS Response on Biblical Marriage

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, throughout its history, has adopted and subscribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as its doctrinal standards, in the sincerely held belief that they accurately represent the teaching of Christian Scriptures on major points of Christian doctrine. Among the tenets of faith described in the Westminster Confession (A.D. 1647) is its Chapter 24: “Of Marriage and Divorce.”

This confession states in part:
  1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.
  2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
  3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord….

The Bible itself declares the commandment of God at the beginning of the human race as He instituted human marriage with these words: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Numerous Scriptures condemn homosexual relations, along with other impure and perverted thoughts and actions, as "abominations" before God.

Greenville Seminary thereby seeks to distinguish its long-held beliefs from the position of another Presbyterian body known as the Presbyterian Church (USA) which on March 17, 2015 adopted a change to its historic Book of Order concerning marriage. By this change, the PCUSA took the unbiblical position that marriage is “a unique relationship between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” This new position was set forth as a means of sanctioning so-called marital unions of persons of the same sex.

Although Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is not an official institutional affiliate of any of the several existing Presbyterian denominations, it aligns its beliefs and positions with those of a number of conservative, evangelical, and orthodox churches holding to the absolute authority of the Bible and the teachings of the Protestant Reformation. The following response by this seminary on Biblical marriage is adapted from a statement issued by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in response to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s departure from Biblical requirements for marriage:

We, like other evangelical, conservative, orthodox, and traditional Christians from many branches of the Christian faith, believe that, from creation, God ordained the marriage covenant to be a unique bond between one man and one woman. This biblical understanding is what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed. Therefore, we believe that the divinely sanctioned standard for sexual activity is fidelity within a marriage between one man and one woman or chastity outside of such a marriage.

Throughout history, there has often been a conflict between what the Church has believed, taught, and confessed and the society to which the Church ministers. The Church, in contrast to the broader culture, is to base her views and practices on authoritative and timeless divine revelation found in the Holy Scriptures, and not on the changing and frequently subjective social practices within the society. The Church, therefore, has certain unchanging objective standards of biblical ethics.

This is especially challenging in this post-modern era of relativism. We think that the comparatively recent interpretation that biblical prohibitions against same-sex intimacy do not apply to “a same-sex marriage” is based on false premises and faulty reasoning and, therefore, is erroneous – no matter how well-intentioned.
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As we affirm what is sometimes called a traditional view of marriage, which we prefer to call biblical marriage, we seek to follow the apostolic practice of “speaking the truth in love.” We reach out to all persons with the Good News by which we are being saved that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”


NOTE: The GPTS 2016 Spring Theology Conference will explore the subject of Marriage, Family and Sexuality. Plan now to attend during the 2nd week of March.