The February 26 vote is in for the Methodist church. This particular vote was on whether or not to ordain gays and lesbians in relationships, allow clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages and hold such ceremonies in a church— all practices which have been noted as not following biblical views. A New York Times article describes the vote as:
After three days of intense debate at a conference in St. Louis, the vote by church officials and lay members from around the world doubled down on current church policy, which states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The vote served as a rejection of a push by progressive members and leaders to open the church to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
I agree that there was much debate, as it was stated in other articles. And yes, the Bible is direct that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” However, I do not see the Methodist vote as closing the church to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. From the beginning regarding marriage, the Bible has always stated truth:
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
The vote was not established to prohibit lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people from worshiping in church. This is because The church understands God desires everyone to approach His throne. The vote was necessary to uphold biblical teaching. There is a difference.
Christians know all are welcome in God’s house.
Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Scott Jones of the Methodists’ Texas Conference follows the teachings of Mark and Romans when he said this:
“We will continue to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer persons to our churches and affirm their sacred worth. I pray we, as a denomination, can now move forward, working with each other in the spirit of Christian love and joining together as one. We are stronger together in serving God’s mission as a diverse body of Christ.”
And why are all welcome? Because church is the holy place inviting all to enter. Church is where sinners are invited to gather in God’s presence. In church, one individually approachs The Cross carrying his/her own burden of sin—idolatry, lying, cheating, abortion, stealing, adultery, greed, coveting, sexual sin—and passes that burden to Jesus. Then together, we join in songs of praise and worship to God for His mercy and grace.
We all fall short of God’s glory—I been there, I do that! That’s why Jesus had to come and take our sins away.
But in order to take sin away, we must admit and confess the sin. In church we can privately confess to the Father, ask for mercy, say we are sorry and humbly accept His forgiveness. Then with hearts now right with the Father, we can holy praise Him, praise Him in unison as one loud voice to heaven.
It is false to attend church clothed in the belief that we have not sinned. Or to think we can hide sin through/in/or from the church. And church is not the place to celebrate in sin.
When God’s perfect plan of male/female design for marriage is overthrown in order to satisfy selfish desire by marrying within one’s own sex—we ignore, and at the same time celebrate sexual sin. In the matter of gay and lesbian marriage, friends and family are often invited to celebrate in the sin.
Believers should not revel in sin. When believers sin (and we all do), we are compelled to run back to Christ. We can’t help ourselves. We need His cleansing. We need His forgiveness. We need to make ourselves right with Him.
Throughout the Bible, marriage is used as a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the Church.
Matthew 19:4-5 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’
A husband and wife are to be “one flesh”, which is ekklesia in Greek. Ekklesia means a particular body of faithful people, such as assembly, congregation, council. Christ is referenced as the bridegroom in the Bible and Believers are referenced as the Church—as His bride, a body of faithful people.
This means believers are also united to Christ as “one flesh”, or ekklesia. We have holy union with Him. This is how God designed marriage, being a reflection of Christ’s relationship with believers. It is a holy union of the two humans He created, male and female—made from his rib.
If the church is truly following God’s law, how could the Methodist vote have ended any other way?
But, humans being humans, continually try tilting more towards making ourselves happy rather than obeying God. Just read the following comment left for the New York Times article :
“I regret seeing the faith pass up an opportunity to modernize and become more welcoming to marginalized groups, but we must respect the institution’s right to exercise their First Amendment prerogatives.”
How can man “modernize” God’s word without implicating our inferior ideas are somehow above the realm of the Creator?
There are obvious opinions on both sides, but we can’t ignore truth in the Bible that marriage is specific to one man and one woman. It’s a fact the gay and lesbian population would wipe themselves out if they were left to procreate on their own. It’s just not possible for them to repopulate. Left to procreate within their desired sex—their bodies can’t do it. God made male and female differently for specific purposes. He has the perfect plan!
Jerry Kulah, head of the UMC’s Africa Initiative, said:
“The progressive groups are loud, but they don’t have the numbers. I’m happy to go back to old ladies and old men in villages who received the Bible from missionaries and let them know that the Bible hasn’t changed.”
The Bible stands firm—the church is to welcome all, and I praise God that the church welcomes me in my sinfulness and shame.
I was baptized Methodist, but through the years have settled in comfortably with a non-denominational church. For this vote the Methodist’s had to have a definite “YEA” or “NAY”. There could not be participation trophy, and both groups knew someone would end up unhappy. I feel for the Methodist assembly of members right now as they comfort those who are unhappy.
We have to own it.
Jesus loves all sinners, but He told us to “Go and sin no more.” He was having none of our selfishness. We have to acknowledge sin at Christ’s cross. We have to own it. Jesus paid a holy price for our sin and He wants us to accept His sacrifice.
Permitting the church to ordain or marry homosexuals is encouraging, even applauding sexual sin referenced in the Bible.
I Corinthians 6:9-10 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 men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Please understand—that verse does not mean the church is closed to sexually immoral, or idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunks, slanders or swindlers. They are all welcome to come to Jesus and confess, to own their sin!
Man does not know all my sin, it’s not your business. But God knows my sin. He and I have lots of one-on-one time where I humbly confess and ask forgiveness. Each day I hope to remember all I did wrong (honestly, I never remember everything) and pray for mercy and grace. Confession is a hard road but believe me when I tell you—God always forgives.
Choosing not to confess the sin, celebratorily ignoring God’s perfect plan for man and woman, does nothing to introduce unbelievers to Christ (which believers are called to do). Nor is it an example to those in search of a life pleasing to God.
The church, as Jones states, must continue to “welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer persons”, anyone with a heavy burden requiring rest. Perhaps with specific social gatherings, Bible studies, coffee get-togethers, or by inviting those who feel marginalized to serve the community, a better understanding of God’s word will develop.
But at the same time, the church must continue to keep a vigilant eye on all social issues desiring to tilt God’s word away from truth and more towards making man happy. Until Christ returns there will always be temptation to lift our inferior ideas above the realm of the Creator.