This morning in the Mankato Free Press I read an article which tells us that tomorrow, Thursday, April 26, 2007, a couple busloads of people from the pro-gay organization “Soulforce” will converge on the Bethany Lutheran College campus here in Mankato in the supposed hopes of beginning a dialog with the conservative Christian college with an eye towards changing their policy concerning homosexuals. The college policy, of course, is the biblical position that homosexual activity is sinful and those who practice it need to repent of that sin and turn in faith to Christ. They will not compromise, nor even dialog, with the Soulforce people. The college president says that self-avowed, practicing homosexuals, if they are found to be at the college, will simply be asked to leave or to transfer to a different college.
This article raises the question for me, do our members of the United Methodist Church know what the UMC’s official policy is with regards to homosexuality?
First of all, it is my own personal belief that at Belgrade, and at many other UM churches across Minnesota, the members of our church are generally much more conservative than most of the clergy in the Minnesota Annual Conference. Of course that’s only my own personal impression, and I could be wrong. But if I’m right, then what I have to say should be good news to most of us.
The fact is that the official position of the United Methodist Church, as stated in the Book of Discipline, is that homosexuality is “incompatible” with the Christian Faith. Our position is the same as the college’s position, in that we accept the Bible’s unequivocal statements, found throughout both Old and New Testaments, that condemn homosexuality as a sin, of which one must repent.
Over the past 25-30 years, the UMC’s General Conference has repeatedly discussed and debated this issue, and every four years when the GC has met, it has affirmed our traditional and official position more and more strongly – homosexuality is incompatible with the Christian Faith. We do not allow self-avowed practicing homosexuals to be candidates for the ministry, to be pastors; nor do we allow our pastors to officiate at any same-sex weddings; nor do we allow those same-sex weddings to occur in our churches; nor do we allow any of our apportionment money to be used to advance any pro-homosexual programs or agendas; nor do we allow our local churches to advance such programs or agendas.
I think those are pretty strong words.
On the other hand, it is also official UMC policy that homosexuals, just like the rest of us, are “persons of sacred worth”, and the UMC churches are to be in ministry to those people, because as the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (TNIV) (emphasis mine -GZ)
We have to remember where we all came from. Of course not all of us have been homosexuals, but we have all sinned in some ways, most of us in many ways. As we are called to repent of our sins and turn in faith to Jesus Christ as our Savior, so we also are called to be in ministry to all sinners, including homosexuals. And just as we do not allow adulterers, child pornographers, or murderers to push their sin as an “alternative lifestyle” on us, so also we must stand against the sin of homosexuality.
Now before you take me to task for equating homosexuality with adultery, child pornography, and even murder, allow me to point out that it’s the Bible itself that equates them that way. It’s because when you break one law, you are guilty of them all. They are all sins, and they all need repentance, for any one of them will keep a person out of fellowship with the Lord and out of heaven.
There are many in the UMC on the other side of this argument, and may I state clearly that what I have said here, beyond the official UMC position, is my own personal opinion and not necessarily the official position of anybody else on the Belgrade Blog team. But I have tried to inform you accurately of the official UMC position and the debate as it has occurred within the United Methodist Church.
(Edited by Gary Zimmerli on April 25, 2007 at 7:50pm.)