Methodist bishops table proposed new gay stance

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A proposed change in the United Methodist Church's 25-year-old stance on homosexual behavior that would condone same-sex marriage "where legally possible" was tabled by a committee at the Council of Bishops meeting this month near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The denomination's Book of Discipline says the church "does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider[s] this practice incompatible with Christian teaching." The stance of the worldwide, 11-million-member church has withstood many challenges in past conventions, but the issue is expected to arise again next year.

A council subcommittee had recommended replacing the 1972 language with wording saying the church does not condone sexual relationships between people of heterosexual or homosexual orientation "outside the bonds of a faithful, loving and committed relationship between two persons; marriage, where legally possible."

The proposed change also declared that the present stance "is based on highly questionable theology and biblical understanding and causes profound hurt to thousands of loyal United Methodist members and potential members."

But the bishops' administrative committee voted May 1 to table the recommendation, and the measure never formally went before the Council of Bishops, according to the United Methodist News Service.

Had the council approved the recommendation, it would have gone to a committee of the 2008 General Conference for action by 1,000 delegates at the quadrennial meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. Bishops do not have a vote at the General Conference, but they may propose legislation for delegates to consider.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Posted May 29, 2007 at 7:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. William P. Sulik wrote:

What the heck, why not also approve adultery wherever legally possible…

May 29, 9:56 am | [comment link]
2. DavidBennett wrote:

The proposed change also declared that the present stance “is based on highly questionable theology and biblical understanding and causes profound hurt to thousands of loyal United Methodist members and potential members.”

This quote explains the current debate over sexuality quite well. The patristic/catholic/orthodox/classical protestant way of interpreting the Bible with regards to sexuality is highly suspect because a few westerners in the post-modern period have their feelings hurt.

May 29, 10:49 am | [comment link]
3. Philip Snyder wrote:

Can’t they see that constantly bringing this up is unhelpful to the mission of the Church?  They are constantly distracting from the message of Christ to the world.  Let’s move on!

Phil Snyder

May 29, 11:00 am | [comment link]
4. Knapsack wrote:

Why is this always coming from retired bishops?  Is it because they no longer have to deal with “real people” in congregations, or is there something about that generation (post-WWII, pre-Boomer)?  And if the latter, what will our early Boomer retiring bishops start morphing into on retirement? 

And note that usn’s Methodist folk have been voting this stuff down with decisive regularity for some time, but retired bishops are the only reason it keeps coming back on the radar screen . . .

May 29, 11:16 am | [comment link]
5. Spiros wrote:

Very Good Point, William P. Sulik!
Let me also add:
Why not prostitution wherever legally possible…, after all some US jurisdictions already have legal prostitution, and approving such would be in keeping with the church’s logic and for consistency sake.

May 29, 11:29 am | [comment link]
6. Dee in Iowa wrote:

# 5 - and besides, many a prostitute has had his/her feelings hurt by cruel words/laws…....sign

May 29, 11:40 am | [comment link]
7. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

The document and recommendation should have also declared that the present proposed change “is based on highly questionable theology and biblical understanding and causes profound hurt to thousands of loyal United Methodist members and potential members.”
Alienation of traditional teaching adherents on the basis of speculation causes greater hurt than that suggested by the retired bishops on behalf of 1-3% of the population.  Who’s hurting whom the most?

May 29, 12:48 pm | [comment link]
8. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Let’s move on!”

No, no, Phil Snyder—that only is said after the progressives win a legislative victory.  Then the cry is “we are wasting valuable time on obsessions with sex, when we could be doing mission and ministry to the poor and sick of the world through the MDGs—let’s move on!”

; > )

May 29, 12:52 pm | [comment link]
9. Deja Vu wrote:

In defending the proposal’s shelving, Oklahoma bishop Robert Hayes said that advancing the recommendation would have “proven to be divisive and counterproductive to the unity that currently exists” among the bishops and in the church.

Of course, unity does not currently exist on the ground in the USA. Those pushing this agenda will continue to ordain gays and lesbian activists and their advocates and place them in positions to drive out traditional believers. Both lay and ordained sexually active gays and lesbians, and their advocates, will continue to be placed in positions of leadership.

May 29, 1:01 pm | [comment link]
10. Chip Johnson, cj wrote:

One small, prairie UMC where I am priveleged to serve occassionally, has suffered greatly because of this issue’s constant appearance ‘on the radar’.  The barely viable congregation has split, with the ‘dissenters’ meeting next door, in the old school house museum, leaving a few older Methodists to fend for themselves (and pay the bills), and cry real tears over ‘what’s happened to our nice little Church?’. 

The problem has come home to them much more vividly than it has to any Episcopal Church I know of, since the Episcopalians are still plugging along, with their heads in the sand, saying, ‘Oh, well, it won’t happen here’.

May 29, 1:46 pm | [comment link]
11. Brian of Maryland wrote:


Alas, that means the advocates have accomplished part of their goal.  It’s more than simply “keeping it on the radar.”  As one advocate for change explained it to me, “Either this church recognizes our gifts for ministry or justice demands we burn it to the ground.”

May 29, 2:39 pm | [comment link]
12. Deja Vu wrote:

Yes, they will only be satisfied when all churches either proclaim their version of religion or are destroyed. One way or another, they are determined to silence the voice of the other.
That is the difference between progressives and liberals.

May 29, 4:23 pm | [comment link]
13. Philip Snyder wrote:

Sarah (#8)

Exactly my point.  I now submit that discussions on sexuality should not occur at Lambeth or ACC or Primates’ Meetings.  The issue has already been decided and more discussions on sexuality are just keeping us from the true mission of the Church. 

Instead, we should discuss what to do (and then do it) with those provinces, diocese, or parishes that wish to buck the Church and aren’t willing to move on with the teaching and mission of the Church.

Phil Snyder

May 29, 5:34 pm | [comment link]
14. MattJP wrote:

It will be interesting to see where United Methodism goes in the future. I grew up in an extremely liberal UM church and left the denomination when I became a Christian. I went to Asbury Theological Seminary which graduates more UM pastors than any other seminaries and what I saw there among the UM contingent does not give me a lot of hope for the future. I have heard though that the UM church will soon approve Wesley Biblical Seminary which will add a second evangelical Arminian-Wesleyan seminary sending pastors into the UMC. There is also the possibility that foreign delegates will be able to vote at General Conference which will increase the number of orthodox votes.

May 29, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.

Next entry (above): Philip McDonagh—The Unity of Love: Reflections on the First Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI

Previous entry (below): Makers of Comedy Film Aim for Religious Audience

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)