At General Conference, the body that meets every four years to make the official policy decisions of the United Methodist Church, delegates voted yesterday to uphold the status quo with regard to homosexuality. The UMC Book of Discipline describes homosexual activity as being “incompatible with Christian teaching” and prohibits the ordination of “avowed”, practicing homosexuals as pastors, but also condemns violence and discrimination against homosexual people. This dichotomy is in-keeping with scripture and will remain the law of the church at least for the next four years (likely delaying the UMC following in the U.S. Episcopal Church’s footsteps).
But the news is not all good for those of us who fear that Christianity is losing its moral compass. No fewer than 417 of the 918 delegates who voted—a whopping 45 percent—supported replacing the clear, accurate “incompatible with Christian teaching” text with language that would make no moral statement whatsoever on behalf of the church: “Faithful, thoughtful people who have grappled with this issue deeply disagree with one another; yet all seek a faithful witness.” . . . What?
This, my friends, is the definition of moral relativism. “Do whatever you want to do; agree to disagree; the Bible (Leviticus 18:19-30, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and millenia of Judeo-Christian traditions be damned!” While I accept this attitude (and even sometimes endorse it) when we talk about government, it is unacceptable in a moral religious community. It is the church’s job to make moral judgements, not to avoid doing so. I must now question, as any faithful member of the United Methodist Church must, whether I wish to remain part of a denomination where the relativists are a mere 5 percent shift away from running the show.