Delegate Sara Ann Swenson (left) of Minnesota presses her voting keypad to her lips while awaiting results of a vote on the United Methodist Church's stance on sexuality during the denomination's 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla. At center is fellow delegate the Rev. Bruce Robins. Photo by Mike DuBose/courtesy United Methodist News Service

Delegate Sara Ann Swenson (left) of Minnesota presses her voting keypad to her lips while awaiting results of a vote on the United Methodist Church’s stance on sexuality during the denomination’s 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla. At center is fellow delegate the Rev. Bruce Robbins. Photo by Mike DuBose/courtesy United Methodist News Service


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) The United Methodist Church’s highest court issued three rulings this weekend that do not change church policy toward gays and lesbians but allow bishops to accept resolutions expressing dissent from church teachings.

The Judicial Council affirmed a resolution approved by New York Bishop Martin McLee that celebrates congregations and individuals that “provide for the pastoral needs of same-sex couples within the United Methodist Church.”

It said that the resolution is “aspirational,” and does not call for action that contradicts the Book of Discipline, the United Methodist book of doctrine and laws, which defines homosexual conduct as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The court also affirmed a California-Pacific Annual Conference resolution that calls for operating as if church law regarding homosexuality does not exist.

The ruling noted that members of the denomination, as well as regional bodies, might disagree on issues such as health care, gun control and other matters.

“While doing so might theologically imperil or weaken the church, it is not an illegal action under Church law,” the council wrote.

Bishop Melvin Talbert joined 13 other United Methodist bishops at a gathering on May 4 outside the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida, where they showed their support for clergy in the denomination who choose to officiate at religious weddings of same-sex couples. Doing so is a violation of church rules, but Talbert said he preferred Biblical obedience even if it meant ecclesiasical disobedience. Photo by Paul Jeffrey/courteys UMNS

Bishop Melvin Talbert joined 13 other United Methodist bishops at a gathering on May 4 outside the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla., where they showed their support for clergy in the denomination who choose to officiate at religious weddings of same-sex couples. Doing so is a violation of church rules, but Talbert said he preferred biblical obedience even if it meant ecclesiastical disobedience. Photo by Paul Jeffrey/courtesy United Methodist News Service


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The court also required Bishop James Dorff of Southwest Texas to rule within 60 days “on the merits” of a question about the ordination eligibility of a lesbian clergy candidate. The case does not address the candidate’s sexuality.

But the court also voided a resolution calling for a 24-hour suspension for bishops that ordain gays, which the denomination does not allow. According to the Book of Discipline, the trial court jury has the exclusive right to set penalties for those found guilty of chargeable offenses.

The Judicial Council rulings were published on the United Methodist website Saturday (Oct. 26), the same day retired Bishop Melvin Talbert presided at a same-sex marriage in Alabama. Talbert is the only bishop to publicly commit such an action. The Rev. Frank Schafer of Lebanon, Pa., will be tried Nov. 18 for officiating at a same-sex wedding, and several other trials are likely soon.

Matt Berryman, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, which affirms gays, said the rulings will have little impact on inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United Methodist Church.

“The Judicial Council rulings are essentially rulings on procedural arguments and do not reach the merits of the deeper argument underlying the actions,” he said.

YS/AMB END GADOUA

35 Comments

  1. in support of Frank Schafer more than 30 pastors will jointly officiate a same-sex marriage.
    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131020_Pastors_to_jointly_officiate_at_same-sex_marriage.html

  2. What will the Methodists do when presented with a church member who wants to marry more than one of the same sex, or maybe one of each sex, or maybe a favored pet? How can they be terribly concerned about any of these other choices once they have determined to alter the ages-old definition of marriage?

    On the other hand, will it really matter, given the steep decline in actual membership at so many of the old “mainline” churches? Ah but the few will gain strength from the other remaining few of the likeminded, for all the good that will do.

    That is not to say that churches do not have something to offer people who are in same-sex unions.

    • Typical of those who cannot argue with reason imbued with history and science, your extremism is downright contrary to religion, at least the New Testament, at least to Jesus. What could any churches possibly offer to people in same-sex unions or people of a homosexual orientation when they continue to display these attitudes of ignorance and hatred? No rational, self-respecting homosexual should go near their buildings. The main reason? Intelligence and goodness are totally lacking.

      • CarrotCakeMan

        Shame on you, Mr. Lamers, for your failed attempt to compare loving, committed same gender American couples to the criminal child sexual abuse and welfare fraud committed under the false flag of “polygamy” by Warren Jeffs, the leader of American “polygamisgts.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, your reference to “marry a pet” has a name I won’t post here, but we can see you were thinking of all those shameful things.

        It’s precisely this sort of dishonesty and raw hate speech that has caused Americans to reject Mr. lamers’ anti-gay agenda.

        • Nicole Porter

          Regardless of what laws are changed and even some churches’ teachings, homosexuality will never be considered a normal,acceptable life for the majority of those who practice Christianity. Your reverse shaming has no effect on me or anyone else here.

        • Duane Lamers

          Carrot, I have not compared any “loving” human beings to sexual abusers and welfare frauds.
          Where you are dead wrong is in your assumption that my defense of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes hate speech or is an anti-gay agenda. You’re over the top here, and it is because you do not rationally argue from principle but whine only from emotion. This is typical of people on “your” side of the issue: make your demand and then whine when someone objects to the demand.
          You have not read that I disapprove of accommodations to those in same-sex unions. I suggest you ask questions before firing shots.
          You can do yourself and others a big favor by attempting to rationally justify a departure from the concept of marriage that is eons old. Given the fact that the gay advocates have done absolutely nothing thus far to present principled arguments, I think I have thrown you an impossible task. That’s not my problem; it is yours.

      • Duane Lamers

        gilhcan, there is nothing of “reason imbued with history and science” in anything you’ve written by way of riposte to objections to the redefining of marriage. Nobody has suggested that the churches have nothing to offer by way of support to homosexuals. It seems that your understanding of “intelligence and goodness” is based on acceptance of your desires or demands, that you want what you want and any denial of that merits a snarky reply to those raising objections to what you desire.
        I await your resonable defence of the changing of the definition of marriage. You’ve not done this so far, but only have exhibited pique at those who support the concept of marriage as we’ve always known it. Your move.

  3. This nonsense action of the Methodist Church opposing the marriage of people of the same sex leaves it in the dust of religious ignorance and antiquity. It will wither and die like the Catholic Church if it does not come to live with all that we have learned from science, psychology, and history. As long as it makes choices like this that match the illiterate and ill-will attitudes of the rabble-rousing evangelicals, the Methodist Church is lost.

    • N. Hutchinson

      “It will wither and die … if it does not come to live with all that we have learned from science, psychology, and history.” What is it “we” have learned from science, psychology, and history that provides understanding on this subject. This is a real question on my part; I am not being sarcastic. I think that the UM church current stance is correct but I am open to being convinced otherwise. I note that you did not mention theology. Have we learned anything new there?

      • CarrotCakeMan

        Sexual orientation, whether gay, bisexual or non-gay, has been shown by science to be inborn and unchangeable, and psychologists have shown being gay or lesbian is just as healthy and “normal” as being non-gay. A quick look on any search engine on the phrase “Physiological Basis of Homosexuality” turns up over 26,000 articles, the vast majority supporting the biological basis of same sex attraction, but NONE of them have any PROOF for the wild claim anti-gays make that “it’s a choice.”

        Here’s just one link for you, N. Hutchinson:

        http://www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.html

        • Nicole Porter

          Regardless if it’s inborn or not, same sex sex acts are still condemned in scripture. And who says that there weren’t homosexual psychologists behind homosexuality no longer being considered a mental disorder. Actions are ALWAYS a choice.

          • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

            A while back I read an account by a psychiatrist about how the association of psychiatrists he was in “flipped” and started calling homosexuality “normal.” What angered him was that the change was not the result of some new research revelation or genetic discovery, but was the result of political logrolling and pressure. He quit the group.
            And as one commenter said here– generally one’s actions are a choice—unless it is the result of a mental illness.
            In fact, society can deem actions as inimical to a well-ordered, healthy society and write laws accordingly. Try lighting up a cigarette these days and see what happens.
            Indeed, with Gays only 3-5% of the population it is a real stretch to call homosexuality some sort of “normal.” I wear thick glasses. And as I look around I see that I am “abnormal.” But truthfully regard Gays as statistically “abnormal” and you are met with invective and hate speech.
            And turning the government’s definition of marriage inside out won’t make homosexual behavior somehow “normal”

        • Duane Lamers

          CarrotCake, Science has NOT proven anything of the sort. The issue is far from settled. That homosexuals are healthy and satisfied in their orientation is a red herring entirely because it is not at the center of what determines orientation in the first place.
          I, for one, do not think that orientation is a matter of choice. It is absurd to think that people “choose” their attraction. Nor do we know whether, as a general principle, people’s orientation can be influenced by external factors.
          In short, we simply do not know. That “we” includes all of us.

    • gilhcan, if the Catholic Church is withering and dying, please explain the fact that it is the largest religious denomination in the world.

      What have we learned from science, psychology or history regarding sexual orientation? We still have nothing but several theories to attempt to explain its origin.

      As for the evangelicals, I suspect you know very little about them. What you do know, as do the rest of us, that there are “loonies” out there on the fringe of every movement, including the gay activist movement. They do not represent the “mainstream” of their own groups.

      Perhaps you are unaware that many gays do not believe in gay “marriage” because they accept the definition of marriage and want only tolerance from society and, perhaps, some of the economic benefits enjoyed by the traditional household of married couples.

      “Religious ignorance” you say? Care to debate a few points on philosophical grounds? Perhaps we both can learn a thing or two. I’m game.

    • gilhcan, you were invited 01 November to give what you think a reasonable defense of efforts to redefine marriage. Perhaps you’ve been away from this board for a bit. Surely, it cannot be that you’ve run away from an opportunity to defend your beliefs.

  4. Relax the standards, weaken your church. Live on lies…. What a joke. If you take out the doctrine and refuse to live by a godly standard, your church is nothing more than a social club.

    • Geoff McLarney

      Nobody is asking for standards to be relaxed. Gay couples who marry in the church are held to the same godly standards as their heterosexual peers.

      • Nicole Porter

        So go to the Metropolitan Community Church. Oh yeah that’s right, that’s not good enough because they’re not as recognizable as the Episcopal Church,ECLA, or UMC. Haven’t homosexuals done enough damage already???

          • Nicole Porter

            Sorry, everyone isn’t going to like you in life. I tolerate homosexuals, that’s all anyone is required to do.

          • “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.”
            ― John Wesley

            Hoping that Ms Porter is of the last generation

      • Geoff, you miss the point: The argument centers on the definition of marriage itself. It is not a question of standards regarding our behavior toward one another; those standards are universal.

  5. That was a very confusing article, it didn’t look good at all.

    However, the problem is NOT with Renee Gadoua. In fact, she wrote the piece perfectly. It’s the ****Methodist Church**** that is generating all the confusion !!!

  6. Dear Church,
    Greetings in Jesus’ Name. Dear Church I am Bishop I. Paul from Lahore, Pakistan. I am the 4thMethodist Bishop in Pakistan. We are registered from 1950 and we are working independently after 1970. Now we are working in 10 regions with a team of 32 Pastors and 50 Evangelists. I am very glad to find you on internet because now days we need international Methodists to be with us, now we are not much able to work independently. So please do reply us in Jesus’ name because we all are from Him and we should remember His word that “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” and according to John Wesley “Methodists are one in all the world”.

    God Bless You. I will be waiting for your kind

  7. I never would have thought I would have lived to see this day. How far the church has wandered from the reason it exists. Where is Christ who is the King of Kings in all of this conversation? The attention appears to all be on me, me, me, what I want, my pleasure, my desires, my sexuality, how I was born, how I can’t help it. Has everyone forgotton that to be a Christian we must DIE to self and be BORN AGAIN? Hmmmmm? Of COURSE you were born that way!!! Just like every other human being was born into sin!!! Just different ones! This is the very reason why Christ implores you – Be BORN AGAIN! Unless you are born again you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    • Grace, you are correct. The various movements to “relax” doctrinal principles are founded solely on the belief of some that they should have whatever they want and be “accepted” by everyone. Regarding marriage, the “spokespeople” for gay rights are not interested at all in the foundational principles of marriage and its place in society. They are interested only in “acceptance” on their terms.
      They seem not to be satisfied even with the acknowledment by the state of their civil union and some accompanying rights. They want marriage on their terms.

      Fine, I want employment in the NBA on my terms. I’ll whine until I get it.

  8. God blesses us with every breath we are given! He is Love. He is the Word. The Scriptures are God-breathed and infallible. Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life. Follow Me, He said. Without knowing Jesus you will never see God. Marriage defined is not only eons old it is defined in Scripture which is absolute. If you are Methodist or most any other scripturally based church congregant you cannot deny the Word and expect to live eternally in Heaven. There are those out here who do not love, are heterosexual and expect they will see Heaven. Woe be to them because they will not. I am not anti-gay and I have compassion for those who either choose or are compelled as a gay person. I am not judging you in the sense that some think these type comments are judgmental but one can clearly define what sin is, how God sees sin and the consequences of the unrepentant in Scripture. This is undeniable though it must feel quite unfair. The only answer for a gay person I am sure is a very difficult and hurtful one but let us remember who suffered the greatest hurt of all so that we could be forgiven and able to have eternal life. I’m certain that much of this with the UMC is like the Pharisees and Sadducees ruling absolutely on the Law of Moses during Jesus’ life and He was quite critical of them because they did not accept Him as the Messiah. The same thing is happening in the Church right now people. The church law is important for many things but this issue is beyond church law. This is about God’s prescription for your eternal life. Make no mistake God discriminates!

  9. A lot of you, if not all are missing the very big picture. The great deciver can not eat the church in one big bite. This is just another small bite that will contribute to the Bible becoming irrelevant as a moral guide. The Eval one smiles ! This direction will cause the church to seperate. The Evil one smiles again.

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