Friday, November 2, 2012
The Presbyterian court, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, chose not to use definitions of marriage in Scripture, the Confessions, or the Presbyterian Directory of Worship when affirming her continued leadership position as Teaching Elder or Minister. Despite stipulated evidence that Rev. McNeill had "married" her same sex partner and was living with her in New York, the PCUSA court officials determined that because there was no direct evidence of sexual activity (pictures or a witness), there was no proof of a sexual relationship.
"The fact of a woman marrying another woman isn't enough to offend Biblical values -- now we need pictures or videos of sex?" said Attorney Whit Brisky. "This is not the first time I have found judicial commissions shying away from deciding cases on the basis of Scripture." Brisky represented the Newark Presbytery's prosecuting committee in this case and has assisted in defending Biblical doctrine in the Presbyterian Church for over a decade.
In 2009, the Rev. Laurie McNeill "married" her same-sex partner while on vacation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She returned to announce her union to the church in which she held leadership and the Presbytery of which she was a part. At her ordination, Rev. McNeill vowed to fulfill her office in obedience to the Scriptures and to be instructed by the Presbyterian Confessions. In 2009, she gave statements to the press that she was aware that the PCUSA did not recognize her marriage, and that "marrying" her partner in Massachusetts would likely result in disciplinary charges being brought against her. As she anticipated, charges were brought against her in the Presbytery of Newark for participating in a same-sex ceremony, which violated the denomination's constitution.
Rev. McNeill moved to dismiss the charges in the Presbytery PJC claiming that the Directory of Worship only governed what happened in Presbyterian worship services. In response, the prosecution argued that Presbyterian worship, service, and witness are inextricably connected and, citing Scripture and the Confessions, that the Directory of Worship therefore governs the worship of Presbyterians in any context.
"Another implication of this decision is that since the Commission has limited the Directory of Worship, including its definition of marriage, to Presbyterian worship services only, Presbyterian Teaching Elders can now freely conduct same-sex 'weddings' in UCC or Episcopal worship services, can bless weddings in the name of Allah rather than that of the Triune God, and can depart from the baptismal formula of 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit' as long as it is not in a Presbyterian worship service," said Brisky.
To the PCUSA, Brisky said, "It was an honor to represent the faithful Presbyterians who brought this charge. As a Christian attorney, I look to Scripture to find God's truth. Unfortunately, many orthodox Presbyterians have left the denomination, giving the Progressives who are left more influence. I see my responsibility as first, standing up for the truth of Scripture, and second, supporting those orthodox who still remain."
Brisky published a report on the progression of the case and arguments presented to the presiding PCUSA court officials. These can be viewed at Mauck & Baker Presbyterian Church Biblical Values. He is a Member of the Mauck & Baker law firm, which is nationally known for representing religious institutions, businesses, and individuals in zoning, religious freedom, real estate, and litigation matters. Because of their Biblical orientation as a law firm, these values are acted out in the cases they take on.
The Family Foundation of Kentucky and the American Family Association of Kentucky are probably very disappointed!
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