NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A panel within the leadership of the United Methodist Church has voted to submit a proposal to change the denomination’s law book to remove prohibitions against homosexual behavior and to allow clergy to officiate same-sex ceremonies.
The Connectional Table voted 26-10 on Monday to present the amended language during the 2016 General Conference, which would then place the matter up for another vote for official approval.
The adjustments would allow those who are open and practicing homosexuals to serve as clergy, and would remove any mention of homosexual behavior as being a violation of biblical laws or being “incompatible with Christian teachings.” Language would also be removed that prohibited clergy from officiating over same-sex ceremonies.
According to the United Methodist Reporter, the proposal serves as a “third way” and compromise over the differing opinions surrounding homosexual behavior, and would put an end to any church trials over the matter.
As previously reported, Pennsylvania minister Frank Schaeffer was defrocked in 2013 after he officiated a ceremony between his son and his son’s partner, and refused to agree not to “wed” homosexuals again since he has other children who identify as homosexual.
He was later reinstated as a council ruled that he should not have been stripped of his credentials solely because he refused to repent, and noted that the written penalty did not warn Schaefer that he would be defrocked for doing so.
“Our hope is that [the Table’s proposal] will provide an alternative for the General Conference to consider that helps strengthen the unity of the church and allows us to move forward together as a denomination so that we can focus on our mission,” said Table Chair Bishop Bruce Ough.
But some have expressed concern over the new proposal, stating that it weakens the standards of righteousness that pastors are meant to exemplify and uphold.
“If we’re going to condone the practice of homosexuality, what’s stopping us from allowing pastors to commit adultery without rebuke? Why not let drunken revilers lead kids church? Why not give greedy thieves and extortioners the responsibility for church finances?” asked Jennifer Leclaire of Charisma Magazine.
“The point is, practicing homosexuality is not the only sin the Bible calls out in this verse, as so many gay rights activists like to stress. So why does the sinful practice of homosexuality, then, get special protection?” she said.
Leclaire opined that if even just one sin is accepted among congregations, there’s no telling where it will lead.
“If we’re going to let our pastors engage in homosexuality at will, condone it and have the audacity to declare that it doesn’t contradict God’s will, what’s preventing us from throwing the Ten Commandments out of the window?” she asked. “Always keep in mind, a little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
“Pastors are supposed to ‘teach God’s people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean’ (Ezek. 44:23). Instead, far too many are calling evil good and good evil and exchanging darkness for light and light for darkness (Is. 5:20),” Leclaire noted. “We can’t just stand by and point fingers of disdain and watch. Join me in crying out that a wave of repentance will sweep the church—and the nation.”