Methodists In Crisis Over Gay Marriage, Church Law


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The dispute among United Methodists over recognition of same-sex couples has lapsed into a doctrinal donnybrook, pitting clergy who are presiding at gay weddings in defiance of church law against proponents of traditional marriage who are trying to stop them.

Since 2011, Methodist advocates for gay marriage have been recruiting clergy to openly officiate at same-sex ceremonies in protest of church policy. In response, theological conservatives have sought formal complaints against the defiant clergy, which could lead to church trials. One scholar has warned that Methodists are “retreating into our various camps” instead of seeking a resolution over an issue the church has formally debated since the 1970s.

“At this point, we have kind of come to the place where we know what the brute facts are,” said Matt Berryman, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for gay and lesbian Methodists. “Most folks, after 40 years of trying legislative solutions, realize they won’t work. The way forward is to claim what we know to be true. And we’re going to continue doing it in an aggressive way.”

The intensity of the conflict was laid bare over the last several months, when the church tried, convicted and defrocked Frank Schaefer, a Pennsylvania pastor who presided at the wedding of his son to another man. Berryman said the case galvanized Methodists advocating for recognition of gay marriage, increasing donations to the group and traffic on Reconciling Ministries’ online sites. Schaefer has since been traveling the country giving talks and sermons on gay acceptance.

Opponents have also stepped up their organizing. Through statements, videos and conference calls, a theologically conservative Methodist movement called Good News has been pressing church leaders to act when church law, contained in the Methodist Book of Discipline, is violated. “When people choose to break the covenant that holds us together, there has to be some accountability,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, Good News’ president.

Last month, a new Methodist group formed called the Wesleyan Covenant Network to support theologically conservative Methodists and keep them from leaving the denomination…

Read on here.


4 thoughts on “Methodists In Crisis Over Gay Marriage, Church Law

  1. Hold the Fort conservative Methodists! Faithfulness to God and His Word! Note Thomas Oden’s book: Jon Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity, A Palin Exposition of His Teaching on Christian Doctrine, (Zondervan, 1994). I think its still in print?

  2. What has happened to the Wesleyan Churches around the world over the past century or so has been so sad. (Though the same can be said for the various Lutheran Churches around the world too.) Compromising their historical confessing heritage for the modern ever-changing spirit of the world. Social gospel replaces Gospel. Then political correctness. Now open rebellion against God’s revelation. A key is always WO. Once that happened then any group can use that to advance their own un-Christian agenda. I’m sure homosexual advocates in many Churches remind the female clergy that they are counting on their support, as reciprocity. Once terrible ecclesiological error is introduced it appears only the Holy Ghost’s intervention can salvage the mess. I hope faithful Methodists are praying fervently or they will be preyed upon! Having a majority vote mechanism, as if truth can be decided 51-49, is also a terrible error. One that has devastated the Anglican Churches around the world. The ECUSA is a prime example. Along with the ELCA. And UMC. I suspect some form of schism is likely the best outcome. We’re seeing that within the ELCA over the past few years. 😦

    1. Surely we must call it the way the Holy Scripture does, and that is “apostasy”! (2 Tim. 3 & chap. 4: 3-4) And the Holy Spirit does not salvage that, but send judgment and or just proclaim “Ichabod” … “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” In the case of Christendom today, it has been given away with modernity & postmodernity! And as Isaiah the Prophet spoke: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” (Isa. 5: 20-21, etc.)

      ‘Apostasy, “falling away”, is the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth…. Apostasy in the church, as in Israel (Isa. 1, 5,5 ; 5, 5-7), is irremediable, and awaits judgment (2 Thes. 2, 10-12 ; 2 Pet. 2, 17, 21; Jude 11-15 ; Rev. 3: 14-16).’ (Note, from 2 Tim. chap. 3-4, Old Scofield Bible, 1909 / 1917) We cannot find fault here at all with this Scofield note! But do we believe it, as too the Holy Scripture here, that is the real question!

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