Commentary: Rapidly Declining Mainline Church Seeks to Require Ministers to Support Transgenderism, Gay Marriage

Woman Pastor
by Ellie Gardey


The Presbyterian Church (USA) has permitted, but not required, its ministers to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies since 2014. But that allowance is no longer sufficient for the progressive denomination; it now aims to mandate that future ministers affirm transgenderism and same-sex marriage as prerequisites for ordination. At its General Assembly this June, the denomination will take up legislation that would implement that requirement.

The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s proposed requirement stands out for its inclusion of affirmation for transgenderism alongside same-sex marriage. Specifically, it does so by adding “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to its list of groups protected from discrimination, included in “worship, governance, and emerging life.” The proposal would also change the denomination’s “[s]tandards for ordained service” to make it obligatory for ministry candidates to pledge adherence to this principle of “non-discrimination.”

It is becoming a trend among liberal Protestant denominations to move from a model of respecting people’s consciences on LGBTQ issues to mandating affirmation. Another example is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is planning to consider a resolution to oust its current social statement at its 2025 Churchwide Assembly. This statement currently acknowledges and respects the consciences of members who hold opposing views on same-sex marriage. When Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton announced the passage of a motion to vote on the issue in 2025, church members broke out in applause.

In explaining the proposed changes, the Presbyterian Church (USA) asserted that it “feel[s]” it is being called to be “ever more faithful to the most inclusive and affirming statements of Scripture and promptings of the Holy Spirit.” The denomination added that the amendment would serve “the children of God” because “[s]tudies show that LGBTQIA+ youth who have religious parents that share negative views on being LGBTQIA+ have higher rates of suicide attempts.” In a concurrence upholding the recommendation of the amendment, a group of presbyteries wrote that the denomination’s “so-called ‘local option’ should not be construed to allow for discriminatory practice.”

Up until now, the denomination has strongly expressed support for freedom of conscience on the issue of homosexuality. It has gone so far as to state that “differing convictions about sexuality and faithful sexual relationship are granted equal standing within this denomination.” This principle, it says, “honor[s] the historic principles of freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture, and mutual forbearance.” In practice, however, most members and ministers who oppose homosexuality long ago have fled the denomination.

The push to make acceptance of transgenderism and homosexuality professed elements of the denomination comes at a critical juncture for the Presbyterian Church (USA) given that it is facing all-out collapse. As recently as 2016, the church had nearly 1.5 million members. By 2022, however, the number of active members had fallen to 1.1 million. Youth professions of faith have also fallen markedly, from 11,243 in 2016 to 7,041 in 2022. The church is now one of elderly white women: 75 percent of members are over age 40, 89.08 percent are white, and 61.48 percent are female.

With this new effort to require support for same-sex marriage and transgenderism, the Presbyterian Church (USA) is rapidly moving in a direction of abandoning its previous stance of unforced all-out progressivism toward mandated adherence to leftist principles. While very few individuals who oppose same-sex marriage remain in the denomination, formalizing support as a core tenet will change the church’s relationship to the issue. It will give the church a mission to evangelize its professed support for same-sex marriage as a divinely inspired message of the Holy Spirit.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) and similar denominations may soon transition from merely expressing support for other progressive beliefs to enshrining them as central tenets of their faith. Currently, the Presbyterian Church (USA) supports abortion until viability and has historically opposed laws restricting abortion since 1970. Still, the church technically permits individuals to follow their consciences on abortion. Regarding the issue of abortion, the denomination says, “The church ought to be able to maintain within its fellowship those who, on the basis of a study of Scripture and prayerful decision, come to diverse conclusions and actions.” But with the recent push to mandate ministerial support for transgenderism and same-sex marriage, it’s easy to see how support for abortion could become the next issue elevated to the status of required belief.

Should mainline Protestant denominations continue down the path of making support for progressive ideologies fundamental tenets of revealed faith, many other Christians may come to believe a religion separate from Christianity has developed.

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Ellie Gardey is Reporter and Associate Editor at The American Spectator. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she studied political science, philosophy, and journalism. Ellie has previously written for the Daily Caller, College Fix, and Irish Rover. She is originally from Michigan. Follow her on X at @EllieGardey. Contact her at





Appeared at and reprinted from The American Spectator

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