Archived Story

Editorial: United Methodists take brave stand

Published 10:24am Monday, June 11, 2012

It isn’t much of a shocker that most of Minnesota’s liberal Lutheran synods oppose a marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage. That’s not far afield from the progressive stance on gay and lesbian issues of the larger denomination — the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

But last week’s 400-169 vote to oppose the marriage amendment by the policymaking body of Minnesota’s United Methodists stands in marked contrast to the more conservative stance of their denomination. The United Methodist Book of Discipline says “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Last month, the denomination’s General Conference — its governing body — reaffirmed that teaching and declined to vote on same-sex marriage or whether to ordain gay and lesbian clergy. The ELCA, on the other hand, made headlines in 2009 when it decided to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy.

The 4.5-million-member ELCA is the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination, and the United Methodist Church (7.8 million) is the biggest Methodist body, with more than 70,000 Minnesota members. A new poll from Public Policy Polling shows that 49 percent of Minnesotans oppose the marriage amendment, while 43 percent favor it and others remain unsure. (The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.)

United Methodists do not officially sanction ceremonies to bless same-sex unions, while the ELCA says that congregations may offer ways to “recognize, support and hold accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

Many United Methodist clergy members across the country say they will break or challenge denominational rules in hopes of expediting a change in policy, which also happened in the ELCA. United Methodists face an uphill battle, however.

Like other Christian groups, they’re declining in the United States, but surging in Africa and Asia, where vigorous antigay attitudes among religious groups prevail. At the same time, the Book of Discipline states that churches should not condemn lesbian and gay members but should be in ministry with everyone.

Given that context, however, Minnesota’s United Methodists’ stance against changing the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman is particularly courageous.

— Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 5

  • Scott Bute

    Those of us who favor the amendment are doing so because we DO NOT believe that judges or legislatures have the power or right to redefine marriage. There are gay people who actually agree with us on this but they are never heard from by the press. It is easy to go off in 100 different directions with this issue and start name calling but the bottom line is: this is not about condemning anyone who happens to be gay, but protecting the definition of marriage – period.

  • Lisa Semple

    The definition as you see it, right? Why do Christians think they are the bottom line when it comes to other people’s lives?

  • Al Helgerson

    Good question Lisa!
    As a Christian myself, I know the bible can and is used to prove about any point a person wants.
    As per the marriage deal, who am I to question anyone the joys or misfortunes of a life of marriage?