Mainline Protestantism, at least in its official curia, has been liberal for nearly 100 years. But for most of that century it was a thoughtful, dignified liberalism that still roughly adhered to historic Christianity’s moral architecture, even if it no longer upheld the core doctrine. But the yonder years of stately Protestantism, at least in the old Mainline, are largely over. And this week, the 1.7 million member PCUSA suffered a meltdown, authorizing clergy to conduct same sex unions, reaffirming its commitment to largely unrestricted abortion rights, and voting to divest from three firms doing business with Israel.
The church’s redefinition of marriage, by a 71-29 percent vote, got the most attention, although it was anticlimactic. Sexual liberalism captured the denomination in 2010, when the PCUSA voted to abandon its expectation of monogamy in marriage and celibacy in singleness for its clergy. Since then, hundreds of congregations have quit, organized conservative resistance largely stopped, and the 2012 General Assembly was expected to authorize same sex unions but fell short. In just the last two years, the PCUSA lost nearly 200,000 members, a rate, which if continued, would mean no more PCUSA in less than 20 years.
78 percent of the PCUSA General Assembly struck down a resolution condemning the killing of babies born alive during abortions, as occurred with notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Initiated by the South Alabama presbytery, it called for inclusion of pro-life Presbyterians and an investigation into doctrinal and financial support of abortion. Dissenters cited pro-abortion stances, while others noted past affirmation of viable babies and reservations in commenting on criminal cases.