United Methodists Struggling With Marriage Debate

From this week’s Ministry Briefing, a discussion about the struggles the United Methodist Church is having over their position on marriage:

The United Methodist Church has debated the place of homosexuality and same sex marriage for the past 40 years. As more UMC ministers in the U.S. have started to accept and even perform same sex ceremonies, more conservative bishops, especially in Africa, have asked the church to maintain the book of discipline’s stance that bans same sex marriage. A pre-conference meeting with over 400 delegates aimed to set the stage for future discussions and attempted to develop less contentious ways to debate positions.

Source: UMC

Why does this matter for church leaders?

Same sex marriage is already an issue in many denominations and will continue to be an important issue for congregations, networks, and denominations that have yet to address it officially. As the UMC prepares for its upcoming conference, they are desperately seeking a way to maintain unity and faithfulness to scripture… this will be a big deal for the UMC, and the Church:

  • The World Is Watching: Can Christian groups find a way to remain united around their shared commitments to scripture and to each other while still finding a way to honor diversity on divisive topics? Is this the kind of issue that that Christians should divide over or should denominations seek third ways to remain together?
  • The UMC Will Impact Others: It’s possible that the UMC could blaze a path forward for other Christian groups and denominations in addressing this issue. The current Book of Discipline prohibits same sex marriage, meaning that any shift on this debate could be viewed as capitulation to culture.
  • Pastors will be forced to choose sides: Even pastors who want to remain neutral on this issue will be forced to choose a side. Are you discussing this issue with your staff and even congregation? Do you have a plan in place if your denomination or leadership shifts on this issue?

How has this debate impacted YOUR church?

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About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.