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Some Presbyterian Churches Open Up To Gay Marriage Ceremonies

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania.

But few churches, synagogues or mosques allow a religious wedding for gay couples.

Now though, one group of Presbyterians is opening up their church to same-sex marriage.

By a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA has redefined marriage.

"It immediately reinterprets, by a vote of the General Assembly, it changes the definition from a man and a woman to between two people," says the Rev. Tom Hall, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Downtown.

Effective immediately, a local church -- if the minister is willing and the church elders agree -- can marry a gay couple in the church, although it's not mandatory, says Pastor Hall.

"The action of the General Assembly does not force the hand of any of the Presbyterian churches," he told KDKA's Jon Delano.

For all Christian denominations, this is a very difficult theological question.

It really comes down to whether you believe the Bible is the Word of God, or a document that can be interpreted differently in the 21st century.

If you ask people on the street, you get mixed views on whether religions should embrace gay marriage.

"Absolutely not," says Kawthar Albe of Beechview. "Church, it's a place for God."

"I think it's up to those churches," notes Drew Roberts of Friendship.

And some question the Bible.

"It's a very dated text. I think you should take what you want from it, but I don't think you should live by it," says Marissa Torre of Shadyside.

The Rev. Rick Wolling of the Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church in Mt. Lebanon, part of the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church, says you can't rewrite the Bible in the name of politics or human rights.

"My view is that you have to found your political views and human rights based upon Biblical principles, and the Biblical principle that I hold to is that marriage is between a man and a woman," says Pastor Wolling.

"The ideological sides of the church tend to be all about social justice and one side tends to be all about truth," notes Pastor Hall, "but Jesus Christ was able to bring them both together."

But how to do that is the eternal struggle.

More Reports on Same-Sex Marriage
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