This week, the delegates of the United Methodist Church gathered to take a vote on whether to reinforce a ban on gay marriage. This second largest Protestant Church, with 12 million members world-wide voted 53-47 to discriminate against the LGBT community.
With nearly 7 million Methodists in the United States, the younger parishioners polled (six in ten) believed homosexuality should be accepted by their church. However, the tightening of enforcement of church law was backed by a coalition of members from African nations. No surprise there. Africa has little tolerance for the practice of homosexuality, punishable by death, in some cases. (The strong African conservative vote against Episcopalian gay rights also led to a schism in the Episcopalian Church within the last ten years).
“The Practice of Homosexuality Is Incompatible with Christian Teaching.”
The current church policy of the Methodists states this. Doesn’t Christian teaching regard all individuals as worthy of God’s love? Shouldn’t a church be welcome to everyone? Church should not be a country club that picks its members.
The Traditional Plan vs. The One Church Plan
In the Traditional Plan of The Methodist Church, the clergy is punished if it officiates at a same-sex wedding. This plan won majority support in a preliminary vote this week.
In a One Church Plan, individual churches can decide for themselves whether to hire gay clergy or perform same-sex marriages. It would eliminate church policy that says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity. Consequently, the clergy or the church would not be punished for going against church law.
In the future, I hope to see One Church Plans for the Methodists. I married a Southern Methodist. I was raised an Episcopalian, still know the service by heart, second verses of the hymns, but probably have some Methodist blood as my father’s name was John Wesley, same as the founder of Methodism.
But my blood boils thinking about how my cis-gender daughter could get married in a Methodist church, but our son could not. It’s sinful. If the Methodists don’t resort to the One Church Plans, we may find ourselves returning to the dark, drafty Gothic Episcopal churches that I miss anyway.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.