United Methodists have reaffirmed 2,000 years of Christian teaching regarding sexuality. This is the same view held by the most rapidly growing parts of the church today. And it is the only view that will hold The United Methodist Church together.
Our view on sexuality is a compassionate, biblical and beautifully nuanced statement. It affirms the worth of every person, declares sexuality to be a gracious gift of God, protects the rights of those who might be mistreated because of their sexuality, and states what the Bible affirms – not all sexual practices, heterosexual or homosexual, are acceptable in the sight of God.
Unfortunately, this view doesn’t fare well in an overly sexualized, decadent Western culture that prizes individual happiness and cares little for biblical holiness. Our society teaches us from the youngest of ages that sex is our right, that an active sex life is essential for being a whole and healthy person, and that the Bible is unable to speak to our modern way of life.
It concerns me little that our fallen culture teaches such things. It concerns me greatly that when the church teaches differently, it is called homophobic, spiritually violent and dishonest – even by some of my fellow United Methodists.
We are a divided church regarding the practice of homosexuality. We are not divided in acknowledging that many people are hurting because of our reaffirmation of the historic position.
We are not divided in caring for our brothers and sisters who have been hurt. We all care and we all care deeply. No one in the UMC takes any pleasure in the pain of others, whether or not they agree with our views.
“We are not divided in caring for our brothers and sisters who have been hurt.”
That’s why those of us who represent the part of the church that holds the traditional view were glad to tell our bishops and the agenda committee that we saw no need to vote on other petitions regarding sexuality after the first votes were taken. We were happy to move those issues to the end of the agenda, knowing that they would not be addressed because we felt no need to increase the pain that our brothers and sisters were experiencing.
Consistency and the Discipline
But we are divided. And we are divided about the Scriptures. Some who want to change the church’s view regarding sexuality simply read the Bible differently than we do. Others believe the Bible teaches that the practice of homosexuality is not acceptable in the sight of God, but they believe that the Scriptures were so conditioned by the culture of their human authors that they no longer apply authoritatively to our time.