A proposed change in the United Methodist Church’s 25-year-old stance on homosexual behavior that would condone same-sex marriage “where legally possible” was tabled by a committee at the Council of Bishops meeting this month near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The denomination’s Book of Discipline says the church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider[s] this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” The stance of the worldwide, 11-million-member church has withstood many challenges in past conventions, but the issue is expected to arise again next year.
A council subcommittee had recommended replacing the 1972 language with wording saying the church does not condone sexual relationships between people of heterosexual or homosexual orientation “outside the bonds of a faithful, loving and committed relationship between two persons; marriage, where legally possible.”
The proposed change also declared that the present stance “is based on highly questionable theology and biblical understanding and causes profound hurt to thousands of loyal United Methodist members and potential members.”
But the bishops’ administrative committee voted May 1 to table the recommendation, and the measure never formally went before the Council of Bishops, according to the United Methodist News Service.
Had the council approved the recommendation, it would have gone to a committee of the 2008 General Conference for action by 1,000 delegates at the quadrennial meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. Bishops do not have a vote at the General Conference, but they may propose legislation for delegates to consider.