What Is the Methodist Church's Position on Homosexuality?

Views Differ on Same-Sex Marriage Within Methodist Organizations

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Methodist denominations have differing views on homosexuality, people who are in homosexual relationships, and same-sex marriage. These views have changed over time.

Methodist Views on Homosexuality

The United Methodist Church has approximately 12.8 million members worldwide. As part of their social principles, they are committed to supporting basic human rights and civil liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. The Church supports efforts to stop violence and coercion against persons based on sexual orientation. They affirm sexual relations only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. They do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider it incompatible with Christian teaching. However, churches and families are urged not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay people and to accept them as members.

The Church has several statements on homosexuality in their "Book of Discipline" and "Book of Resolutions." These are statements approved by the General Conference. In 2016, the Church made several changes to its basic principles. Self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not allowed to be ordained as ministers or appointed to serve the church. Ministers are not allowed to conduct ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions. Additionally, no funding will be given by the United Methodist Church to any gay caucus or group to promote the acceptance of homosexuality.

African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E)

This predominantly-black church has approximately 3 million members and 7,000 congregations. They voted in 2004 to prohibit same-sex marriages. Openly LGBT persons are not usually ordained, although they did not establish a position on that issue. Their statement of beliefs does not mention marriage or homosexuality.

Methodist Church in Britain

The Methodist Church in Britain has over 4,500 local churches, but only 188,000 active members in Britain. The Church has not taken a definitive stance on homosexuality, leaving biblical interpretation open. The Church does denounce discrimination based on sexual orientation and affirms participation by homosexuals in the ministry. In their 1993 resolutions, they state that no person shall be barred from the church on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Under basic church tenets, chastity is affirmed for all persons outside of marriage.

In 2014, the Methodist Conference reaffirmed the Methodist Standing Orders, saying "marriage is a gift of God and that it is God's intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind, and spirit of one man and one woman." They resolved that there is no reason why a Methodist cannot enter a legally-formed same-sex marriage or civil partnership, although these are not performed with a Methodist blessing. If the Methodist Conference decides to allow same-sex marriages in the future, individual congregations would be able to choose whether or not these could be performed at their site.

Individuals are called on to reflect whether their behavior fits within these resolutions. They don't have any procedure to question members about whether they are adhering to the resolutions. As a result, there is a diversity of beliefs about same-sex relationships within the denomination, with individuals empowered to make their own interpretations.

Sources

"Conversation about marriage." Synod of The Methodist Church In Scotland, 2014, Scotland.

"Human sexuality (including Gay and Lesbian issues)." The Methodist Church.

"Our Beliefs." AME Church, 2019, Nashville, TN.

"Social Principles: The Social Community." The United Methodist Church, 2019.

"What is the denomination’s position on homosexuality?" The United Methodist Publishing House, 2016.