UMC Keeps Tradition’s Sexual Ethics
When Wesley looked for truth he went first to Scripture and then to Tradition, Reason and Experience. In the February 26, 2019 vote of the United Methodist Church concerning the ordination and marriage of avowed homosexual and lesbian people, the majority of delegates voted in agreement with the almost 2000 years of Church tradition as well as the Wesleyan biblical interpretation and tradition in what was called the Traditional Plan.
One of the reasons the denomination stayed connected to the “traditional” theology and practice, passing by a small majority, was the presence of the global church and its delegates. In this speech by the Rev. Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, Dean of Gbarnga School of Theology, United Methodist University in Liberia, he states in clear unequivoacal and civil manner that the church in Africa will stay true to historic Methodism and “not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.”
Dr. Kulah says in part:
“Another road invites us to reaffirm Christian teachings rooted in Scripture and the church’s rich traditions.
It says, “All persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” that “All persons need the ministry of the Church,” and that “We affirm that God’s grace is available to all.”
It grounds our sexual ethics in Scripture when it says, the UM Church does “not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers [it] incompatible with Christian teaching.”
While “we commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons,” we do not celebrate same-sex marriages or ordain for ministry people who self-avow as practicing homosexuals. These practices do not conform to the authentic teaching of the Holy Scriptures, our primary authority for faith and Christian living.
However, we extend grace to all people because we all know we are sinners in need of God’s redeeming. We know how critical and life changing God’s grace has been in our own lives. We warmly welcome all people to our churches; we long to be in fellowship with them, to pray with them, to weep with them, and to experience the joy of transformation with them.
Friends, please hear me, we Africans are not afraid of our sisters and brothers who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, questioning, or queer. We love them and we hope the best for them. But we know of no compelling arguments for forsaking our church’s understanding of Scripture and the teachings of the church universal.
And then please hear me when I say as graciously as I can: we Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.”
Let me assure you, we Africans, whether we have liked it or not, have had to engage in this debate for many years now. We stand with the global church, not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.”
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