Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination, is only seven votes away from officially changing its definition of marriage to include same-sex unions — a move that could have major ramifications for the mainline sect.

This development comes less than a year after Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its General Assembly meeting in Detroit, to officially embrace gay marriage, amending its Book of Order to define matrimony from being between ”a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”

TheBlaze reported at the time that in order for the rule to be officially adopted, a majority of the denomination’s 172 presbyteries would need to vote in favor within the subsequent 12 months. As it currently stands, Amendment 14-F — the provision to change the definition of marriage — has been embraced by 79 regional bodies, with just 37 standing in opposition, the Christian Post reported.

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Only 86 votes are needed for ratification, meaning that Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is just seven votes short of officially adopting same-sex marriage. If Amendment 14-F passes, the change in definition would go into effect on June 21, 2015.

The marriage battle within the denomination has led to much contention over the years, as the current debate isn’t the first time that Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has found itself at a crossroads.

The General Assembly previously approved Amendment 10a back in 2010, which allowed for local presbyteries to ordain openly gay clergy, causing 150 congregations to leave the denomination, the Christian Post reported.

Numerous stories have emerged over the past year about churches and presbyteries locked in heated legal battles with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) over their rights to land, as splits over gay marriage and other central theological issues continue.

Consider Bonhomme Presbyterian Church in Chesterfield, Missouri, which is currently in court trying to keep its current church property after leaving the denomination. And, as TheBlaze reported last yearMenlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California, was involved in a similar situation and decided to pay the denomination $9 million to purchase its property.

Church leaders there also said that key theological issues led to the drastic decision. Menlo Park, which also joined ECO, described its reasons for seeking a split with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in a document published in 2013, noting that the church’s “evangelical identity around who Jesus is and our understanding of the authority of scripture are increasingly out of alignment” with the denomination.

Specifically, the church expressed concern that many Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders do not believe in the deity of Jesus, nor do they embrace salvation through Christ. These are central tenets of most mainstream Christian churches, leading to a difficult ideological splintering.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Consider that 244 churches left Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2013 alone. 

It’s unclear what ratification would mean, though Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative think tank, said last year that he believes the change will eventually lead to the denomination’s demise.

“By overturning natural marriage the PCUSA is only accelerating its already fast-paced demise. It will become even smaller, whiter and older,” he said, according to Charisma News. “Only declining denominations reject historic Christian standards and in nearly every case that rejection reinforces the decline.”

Others, of course, have praised the decision to potentially embrace gay unions.

(H/T: Christian Post)

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