DALLAS -- The Presbyterian Church in America will wait until next year to debate whether military women should serve in combat positions, which some members oppose because they say it is "the biblical duty of men to defend women."
A report to the conservative denomination had asked ministers to warn women "of the moral and physical dangers" of military service. But the report was tabled after several hours of discussion Thursday.
About 1,400 PCA ministers and elders -- all male -- are meeting this week in Dallas for the denomination's 29th annual gathering. They reaffirmed church doctrine allowing ministers to hold varying interpretations of biblical accounts of creation and letting only men preach.
The Presbyterian Church in America, with 300,000 members, is more conservative than the larger Presbyterian Church (USA), which has 2.5 million members. That group's General Assembly met last week in Louisville, Ky., and voted to drop a ban on ordaining homosexuals.
The U.S. military's allowance of women in combat reflects "the blind passions of feminism," the PCA report stated.
"Woman is the weaker sex and part of her weakness is the vulnerability attendant to her greatest privilege -- that God has made her the 'Mother of all the living.' Men are to guard and protect her as she carries in her womb, gives birth to, and nurses her children," it stated.
The report validates the "universal binding obligation of man to be manly, laying down his life in defense of bride, home and nation," said Steve Leonard, an Army chaplain at Fort Leonardwood, Mo.
But Heidi Morgan, a church member from Minneapolis, said the issue is not a question of ability but holding men to their God-given responsibilities.
"Men have abdicated the role to protect women and children," she said. "Women can serve supporting roles in the military, but should not be on the front lines."
Church leaders also this week debated whether the biblical book of Genesis means that God created the universe in six 24-hour days or six "figurative" days, which could be seen as a concession to evolution and modern science.
The proposal that failed Thursday sought to label anything other than the literal view as "exceptions" and force ministers to declare their interpretation upon ordination.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.