By Bishop Matthew Thomas
Anyone living in 21st century North America should be familiar with changing societal mores regarding human sexuality. Most pastors have frequent opportunities for ministry and face questions pertaining to Biblical teaching on sexual matters and how it applies to their ministry- preaching, teaching, baptism, discipleship, membership and marriage. What is the Free Methodist Church’s position, understanding of and ministry counsel related to these matters?
The Biblical and historic understanding of the church on sexuality and marriage have remained largely unchanged in most of Protestantism and other Orthodox movements of the church throughout the centuries. But, societal changes in terminology and sexual expression press the church to clarify its terms and shape the church’s response while maintaining integrity with Scripture and the church’s doctrine. Refining responses and engaging societally changing norms is important for all pastors. Freelancing in theology praxis resulting in simply succumbing to societal pressure for conformity or developing unhealthy and graceless responses are not options for pastoral response. The church’s primary task remains to serve Christ and remain faithful to Him and His Word.
Fidelity to a Biblical hermeneutic and Scriptural authority has been sacrificed on this one issue in many churches and denominations. Modifying Biblical interpretation in ways that forsake sound exegesis in this one area renders suspect exegetical integrity on all other matters. The list of churches and denominations that have modified their exegesis resulting in a diminished their view of Scriptural authority are numerous. This has become a hermeneutical watershed for many since the Scriptures are consistent and clear on most issues connecting gender relationships as it relates to sexuality.