HRC Blog

The United Methodist Church Votes against LGBT People

United Methodists for Social ActionPost submitted by Sharon Groves, former HRC Director, Religion and Faith Program

The United Methodist Church has just voted against an amendment that would have changed their Book of Discipline to make it more affirming of LGBT people.  The legislation hoped to substitute offensive and punitive language that states, in part, that "…sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.  . . . The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching."

The essential part of the proposed substitution would have read: 

"We recognize that sexuality is God's good gift to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when that gift is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the church, and society. We call all persons to the disciplined, responsible fulfillment of themselves, others, and society in the stewardship of this gift. We also recognize our limited understanding of this complex gift and encourage the medical, theological, and social science disciplines to combine in a determined effort to understand human sexuality more completely. United Methodists, along with other Christians, have struggled to find principles for applying traditional teachings to contemporary understandings of human sexuality."

This is a sad day for the United Methodist Church. I fear it will cause harm to many young LGBT people of faith and their families who seek to find in their congregations a place where they can practice their faith in an affirming, loving and spirit-filled space.  

Yet, I am filled with hope by the prophetic voices of those who have worked tirelessly for change within the church they love. Hundreds of conference participants, wearing beautiful rainbow stoles created by the Reconciling Methodist Network, stood on the edges of the conference voting tables and did an impromptu communion service for the inclusive Church body, witnessing for a new day when "justice rolls down like water and righteousness like an ever flowing stream" (Amos 5:24).

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