The Cumberland Presbyterian Church does not impose a singular view on abortion. According to our Confession of Faith, “God alone is Lord of the conscience and in matters of faith and worship, God frees believers from the opinions and commandments of others that are contrary to his word…” (CoF 6.02). This statement affirms the sacred autonomy of each individual who seeks God’s will.

Rev. Dr. A. B. Miller, in his work Doctrines and Genius of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church published in 1892, emphatically stated, “No pope or counsel or creed can bind the conscience in this respect. Only the word of God is the rule of faith and practice, and it is such to every [individual] in the sense in which [they understand] it through an honest effort to arrive at its meaning. This doctrine, common to Protestantism, is the key to progress in the interpretation of scriptures. To give it up is to go back to the spiritual bondage of the middle ages….the spiritual death in which [persons] repose unquestioning faith in the opinions of a fallible [person] or council of fallible [individuals].”

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, with its history of honoring individual conscience, exemplified this approach during the 1991 General Assembly when addressing the contentious topic of abortion. Rather than imposing a singular viewpoint, the church embraced the validity of diverse interpretations within its covenant community. This inclusive stance fostered unity and underscored the significance of aligning one’s actions with Christian conscience.

EXCERPT FROM “SANCTITY OF PERSONS” (1991)

Since Cumberland Presbyterians affirm a variety of views on abortion, it is not appropriate for the General Assembly to define either view as the view of the church. Instead, on the issue of abortion, the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church affirms this range of views as equally valid interpretations of the Christian faith, equally faithful to scripture and equally open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Recognizing that members of our church will act on their convictions in the public arena and in the church, we affirm their prerogative to act in Christian conscience.

Furthermore, the General Assembly calls upon all Cumberland Presbyterians to pray for the peace of the church, to repent of allowing this debate to divide us, to hear the pain of Christian sisters and brothers struggling with this issue, and to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit speaking through those who hold opposing points of view.

While many push for the church to enforce a singular view on issues related to sexuality, this approach has led only to conflict and division. Instead, respecting individual conscience regarding sexuality offers a path toward unity and inclusion.

When it comes to a person’s sexual orientation, it is a deeply personal matter between them and God. Condemnation, exclusion, and discrimination have not been found to alter a person’s innate sexual orientation. Attempts to remove LGBTQ+ individuals from the church and its leadership are destined to fail because they are integral members of the body of Christ, called by our Lord to serve and minister. Exclusion is not a solution.

“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Cor 12:24-25)

“Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

 

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