Friday, May 2, 2008

United Methodists Maintain Stance on Homosexuality

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church concludes, today. I had the opportunity to try to follow some of the events via their live stream. I confess that I was a bit envious of some of their worship practices. They certainly were not as "high church" as one might find in an Anglican meeting of this sort, but oh how I wish that I could see some of their liturgical content in a Nazarene General Assembly!

As for the business . . . there was a lot! Far too much for me to report on or even follow. However, as the title of this post indicates, the delegates of the United Methodist Church General Conferences retained their position on homosexuality. They continue to affirm homosexual people as being people "of sacred worth," and at the same time describe homosexual activity as being "incompatible with Christian teaching." Although the vote, as in years past, was fairly close, nevertheless it was a solid victory for those who seek biblical integrity.

9 comments:

Katharine said...

"Of Sacred Worth." That's beautiful.

Pastor Steven said...

I think that is one thing that we need to affirm in the CotN, that gay people are people of sacred worth. Created in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity, all of us bare the marks of sin, only in different ways.

One problem that I see with the UMC, is that they have given the proponents of the ordination of gays and lesbians to much freedom to espouse their views and displeasure with the decision of the General Conference.

If it keeps coming up every four years it's bound to pass at some point. Then what do you have, but the same situation that TEC finds itself in today. If homosexual activity is incompatible with the teachings of scripture, why vote on it every four years.

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Steven

Todd Stepp said...

Pastor Steven,

Actually, we do say that "every man or woman should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual orientation." - We may not say it in our Manual, but that is part of an official statement from our board of general superintendents. (Check it out at www.nazarene.org/ministries/superintendents/statements/sexuality/display.aspx or just go to nazarene.org, click on the board of general superintendents, official statements and human sexuality.)

Concerning the UMC, there is something to be said about freedom to express one's discontent. I do wish that they would just be done with the issue, but as a UMC friend of mine has said, they consider "holy conferencing" to be a means of grace, and they will always allow issues like this to come up for discussion. The other thing to note is that with the number of those who vote against the prevailing position, it is not going to go away any time soon.

The concern with what they are doing concerning their "globalization" is that, at some point down the road, the U.S. church may change their position without the global church having any say in the matter. If that ever happens (and it is only one of the possible outcomes down the line), then we will likely see something similar in the UMC as we are now seeing in the TEC.

But for now, the UMC remains solidly where it has always been on this issue.

Pax,

Todd+

Pastor Steven said...

Todd,

Thanks for the response, it is definitely a hot button issue many denominations are facing. There are even a few people in the CotN who are in favor of a fuller inclusion of gays and lesbians in the CotN. Even though I do not expect to see and major shift in our official position in the near future, but one never knows. We definitely need to pray for those on both sides of the issue.

In Christ,

Pastor Steven

Brannon Hancock said...

I'd like to stake my claim as one of those "few people" Pastor Steven refers to in the previous comment.

I, too, know the COTN well enough to have a good deal of certitude that we are not likely to see any "shifts" in our position. But I do hope that the kind of voice that would say "The Body of Christ embraces and includes persons of homosexual identity (period.)" would begin to be heard throughout the denomination. (The question of homosexual practice is a considerably more loaded issue, of course.)

Thanks for making room for this conversation on your blog, Todd.

Amy said...

I would like to add that the COTN is insensitive for the most part to those who are homosexuals. While the human sexuality position in the Manual states a fairly pleasing and biblical statement, I would also like to mention that their statement about those who have fallen into homosexuality in section 435 or 436 I believe is horrible! They relate homosexuals to pedophiles and act as thought it is a possible recurrent sin and that those who have been homosexual should not be trusted in any leadership position...ever. What happened to redemption! The COTN has a lot to learn and say. I pray God gives me the forum to do help in the endeavor soon.

Todd Stepp said...

Amy,

Perhaps we will make progress. I just received in the mail, today, an enlarged booklet on pastoral ministry regarding homosexual people from the Board of General Superintendents. I have not read it completely (just skimmed it), but I think that it is a good help for pastors in ministering to those who identify as homosexual.

Todd Stepp said...

By the way, for you Nazarenes, you can affect the Manual by writing resolutions and presenting them to your districts delegation. I know, I've done it, and it has changed certain parts of the Manual.

(It is best, however, to get those resolutions circulated around the country [and world] as much as possible.)

Amy said...

I would love to get a copy of that book! As a "rookie" I don't always get hold of the good stuff. Also, thank you for the encouragement! I know it will get better. I have seen some positive shifts on my district. I would love to write a resolution, just never knew how. Thanks again!