nakedpastor congratulates PCUSA same-sex marriage with a cartoon

"Congratulations PCUSA" (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)
“Congratulations PCUSA” (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)

The PCUSA, the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States, voted to allow their clergy to perform same-sex marriages. This is significant!

In 1986 I was ordained into the ministry in the Presbyterian Church in Canada. So I have a personal interested in this story.

I knew when I drew this cartoon that it would make only make sense to some. This is a drawing I did, taken from a section of the Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland. These are four major figures in the history of the Reformation: William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. Some people are probably saying they are rolling in their graves right now.

Things develop. Is this development an separation from its roots? Or is it an unfolding from its roots? I think it is the latter.

*** Would you like a fine reproduction of this cartoon? Order one HERE.


19 Replies to “nakedpastor congratulates PCUSA same-sex marriage with a cartoon”

  1. Given the current ubiquity of the “Christ the Redeemer” sculpture overlooking Rio de Janeiro, as a visual lead-in to World Cup coverage on television, it may be worth noting that the Reformation Wall in Geneva was designed by the same sculptor, Paul Landowski.

  2. This is just the best … I’ve been to Geneva … and have seen the Reformation Monument – deeply, profoundly, moving … and this caps it … I can hear them whispering to me all the time, “Finish our work!” Well, we’ve done of that finishing work yesterday … more to come, but I believe it will happen. Blessings, and thanks for this fine piece of cartooning.

  3. I think they were pre-destined to agree to perform same-sex marriages. Just like God wants.

    Joking aside, good for them.

  4. Nice one! I like your cartoon, but have to say I do think they are rolling in their graves… 🙂 I went to Geneva a few summers ago and read what John Knox had to said about women, especially those in power: Queen Elizabeth I, for instance. Not very pretty, so am guessing gays would get the same treatment! Calvin apparently thought pregnant single women should be drowned since they were sinful and their children would be too. It was the first time I had read of Christian support of abortion although in a different manner!

  5. I agree Melody. I was going to mention in my post Knox’s treatment of the queen. Cruel. Drove her to tears and despair. Unrelenting hard-ass. And Calvin even had someone burned at the stake for heresy. On and on. So… we don’t carry their personalities or character into the future, but the seedsof their best ideas. That’s how I look at it.

  6. Of course the PCA (I see them as literalists) decides to say WE DON’T THINK GAY MARRIAGE IS OKAY.

  7. David –

    The Reformed tradition is characterised by a conservative progressivism. It is indeed perpetually reformatory (or to use your words: it is always ‘unfolding’), but that reform has never ever been ‘free form’. It’s always been grounded by something.

    Primarily: Scripture;
    Secondarily: Confessions.

    These govern the latitude of Reformed theological ‘gymnasticity’ (the boundaries of its progression if you will). It would be observed by the sober-minded that the Reformed Confessions explicitly constrain marriage to a man and a woman (e.g. Second Helvetic Confession [1566], XXIX.2 & Westminster Confession [1647], XXIV.2). It would also be noted that the Reformed reception of Scripture teaches the same, and is nigh-on universal in its interpretation of texts like Lev 18 + Rom 1.

    So … yes, I’d say that any reasonable understanding of the Reformed tradition – even one that recognises its its need to ‘flex’ and change – would disregard the suggestion that this constitutes a validly ‘Reformed’ development.

    That’s not to say that it’s not ‘valid’ in other ways, in the eyes of others or in the hands of another tradition. But let’s be fair to the PCA and others in the Reformed tradition: they may or may not be wrong about homosexuality, but they’re right to object.

  8. I agreed with you Lp all the way up to your final phrase: “but they’re right to object”. You kind of showed your hand there. I think you would have been more correct to say “they have the right to object”.

  9. Hi David, many thanks for your response.

    I’m confused: ‘show my hand’? My point was entirely this- that the PCA (and others) are “right to object” to claims that this is a bona fide Reformed move. Because, as we’re apparently both agreed on, it’s not.

    As such, I would indeed say that GA221 caused Calvin et al to ‘roll in their graves’, and it would validly be said to constitute a ‘separation’ from the Reformed tradition.

  10. No Lp, I wouldn’t agree with that. That is totally your opinion from your perspective, of course. Those in the reformed tradition who agree with the development would say that this is entirely in the Reformed Tradition, or in the spirit of it. “Reformed and always reforming.” It’s one thing to be Reformed. There are tons of interpretations on what it means to be “always reforming”.

  11. Hi David, thanks again.

    Hm, I’m confused. Of course, I’d apologise for assuming your agreement when it was – in fact – withheld. In my defence, however, you DID say with regard to my original post that you “agreed with [me] all the way up to [my] final phrase”. You can see why I thought that you concurred with my prevenient reasoning…

    Anyway, the point is this: the Reformed tradition is not a free-for-all. It has to mean something. There are, indeed, various interpretations of what it means to be ‘always reforming’ – but that’s because this isn’t the monopoly of Reformed theology. Being “*Reformed* and always reforming” (ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda) is its monopoly.

    This has to mean something, even if its meaning is today considered disagreeable.
    All I’m arguing is that this ‘meaning’ would likely militate against the conclusion that GA221’s decision was qualitatively ‘Reformed’.

  12. Lp: I appreciate that you said “All I’m arguing is that…”, because it is an argument… a difference of opinion, on what “reformed and reforming” means. I can appreciate that from your perspective they’ve stretched the meaning too far and therefore broken away from reformed. However, I’m sure they do not feel the same way at all. From their perspective this is the logical development not only of reforming but reformed.

  13. David – again, thanks for your time.

    I’m well aware that they wouldn’t feel the same and that, from their perspective at least, this is indeed a “logical development”.

    My argument is that there exists a normative definition or understanding of what constitutes “Reformed”, and that it militates against ‘their’ perspective.

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it would appear that you take issue with the suggestion that any understanding can be ‘normative’. And since I don’t really have the time to debate foundationalism and semantic particularity with you, I might have to say – let’s agree to disagree 🙂

    Christ’s blessings to you and yours.

  14. Well I guess it depends on where you put the emphasis for “normative”. But I’ll agree to disagree. Thanks for your comments Lp.

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