Delegates cannot agree that they disagree on sexuality issue

Protesters against the United Methodist Church's stance on sexuality prepare to serve Holy Communion inside the bar of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. The group occupied the conference's central table after delegates voted to maintain the denomination's position. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

By Kathy Gilbert and Tita Parham

The United Methodist Church cannot agree that it disagrees over the issue of homosexuality.

After more than an hour of passionate debate and clear disagreement, two items stating Christians have different opinions about homosexuality were not approved by the 2012 General Conference, leaving the original language in the Book of Discipline intact.

The Book of Discipline, Paragraph 161F states: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., and the Rev. Mike Slaughter, pastor of Ginghamsburg Church, Tipp City, Ohio, proposed a substitution to 161F that sought to clarify that United Methodists disagree on whether homosexual practice is contrary to the will of God and urged unity over division and respect for co-existence. Their substitution replaced the last paragraph of a petition submitted by the Global Convocation of Young People after its 2010 conference.

Hamilton reminded delegates to the 2012 United Methodist General Conference that John Wesley once said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”

As discussion on the petition began, many who support including lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people quietly stood outside the bar of the plenary floor praying, holding hands and signs. Throughout the days leading up to the legislation, members of coalitions seeking equality and inclusion for all had been protesting and praying for change. After the vote to keep the original wording in the Book of Discipline, they moved to the altar singing, “Let us Break Bread Together.”

“Many feel we need to take a strong stand against homosexuality,” said the Rev. James Howell, of the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference “What matters is God’s will. We have said for a long time we do not condone homosexuality, but they are here, they are in our delegations, they are serving our churches. They keep coming back … there is a kind of miracle in that.”

The Rev. Maxie Dunham of the Kentucky Annual (regional) Conference spoke against the substitution saying, “It leaves out good teaching.” There is no reason at all to state we disagree, because we disagree about almost everything, he said.

Slaughter said agreeing to disagree was necessary because there are people within his church and others that do disagree.  “At Ginghamsburg, we have Christ-centered, Bible-believing Christians who are against this and for this and somehow it is working when we agree to disagree.  … It’s making one heaven of a difference in Dayton, Ohio, and in places as far as Darfur, Sudan.”

Ralph Williams, a lay delegate from the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference said some of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Christians attending this conference “have been told they should be stoned, that this is what the Bible prescribes for our sin.” He said those conversations took place during holy conferencing sessions.

When asked the intention behind the substitution, Hamilton replied it would not change the church’s stance on same-sex marriage or ordination of gay clergy.

The discussion around the petition also included debate about whether homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

Kashal M. Kabung, South-West Katanga Annual Conference, said he did not believe homosexuality was created by God. “I stand to say the grace of God is for all people but the grace of God does not allow us to sin,” he said.

Jen Ihlo, a Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference lay delegate, worked on the committee and subcommittee on human sexuality and said there was lengthy debate about where the church is on homosexuality. She said we heard our Central Conference brothers and sisters ask us, “Where was the compromise?

“This petition represents that compromise; it states our positions are vastly different. I am a lesbian and a child of God. I strongly urge the body to adopt this compromise so gay youth will recognize the church loves them and the pain will stop.”

“We disagree, and we do need tolerance, but for some, tolerance means all beliefs are equal, and that is not true,” said the Rev. Jim Cowart, delegate from South Georgia Annual (regional) Conference. “We love you just like you are, and we love you enough to tell you what scriptures say.”

At the end of the discussion, supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people crowded around the altar, singing. The session ended early because of the demonstration, which is continuing.

Gilbert is a member of the United Methodist News Service team and Parham is a freelance writer and editor based in Apopka, Fla. and a member of the UMNS team for GC2012.


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  1. Jeff

    Maybe Jesus wasn’t as silent on homosexuality as we thought: http://www.jesusonhomosexuality.com/Jesus%20on%20Homosexuality%20-%20Laymen%20Edition.pdf

    1. Wesley Steinbrink

      You seem to have missed that Jesus spoke of homosexuality:

      Jesus said so in Matthew 15:19 when he defined sin including sexual immorality – pornea in greek – which includes homosexuality.

      Check out:


    2. Wesley Steinbrink

      Now, the pdf that you link to talks of how to get to heaven. It says “This realization is destined to
      awaken the Church to the original teachings of Jesus and Paul. And the
      wonderful news is that both of them would concur that gay marriage
      is not an impediment to heaven… not even in the slightest.”

      Let’s start by examining heaven. Heaven is supposed to be perfect. “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;” Hebrews 9:11

      “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:21

      And “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4

      Furthermore, there not be some other things:

      Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:6-8

      Now, how can we hope to enter heaven for we are immoral persons at the very least. The list also includes abominable, but we will get to that later.

      Jesus said “And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17
      and “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18 and “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Luke 18:19. Paul said the same “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

      If we are immoral, which is imperfect in God’s eyes, how can we enter heaven? By doing good works? By following the two greatest commandments, Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself as your pdf implies? Jesus showed in the Sermon on the Mount just showed how impossible it is to do the ten commandments or even these two commandments. Jesus in John 6:40: ““For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” He also said ““He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:54. The former is literal, the latter is figurative. Why is the latter figurative? Because we have the words of Paul: “9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9.10. This fits with Jesus: “16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18.

      So it is heart belief in Jesus and knowing that God raised Him from the dead. Jesus did not come that time to judge the world. That will only be later: “…God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead…” 2 Timothy 4:1 and “on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” Romans 2:16

      Now about abominable. The abominable in Revelation 21:6-8 is abomination/vile/becoming foul – “bdelygma” in the Greek. Now in the Septuagint, “bdelygma” is the translation of Hebrew “to’ebah”. The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Old Testament for those Jews who were dispersed and not used to using Hebrew. Now it just so happens that this Hebrew word comes up another place also translated as abomination. Lev 20:13: “If a man lies with a male (zakar) as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…” Now there are other abominations listed in the Bible, but this does not take away from this being an abomination. None of us are perfect.

      To get to the perfect heaven we do not need the law, for the law is but a school master teaching us of sin. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Galations 3:25. We must have faith in Jesus. Once we accept Jesus we are His: “”Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24

    3. Wesley Steinbrink

      Once we accept Jesus, works of gratitude follow/result from the initial faith. Jesus writes the law on our hearts. Hebrews 8:10 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – NASB.

  2. Sam

    I’m curious when the UMC will be consistent in its “scriptural holiness” by stating that, based on very clear scripture, divorce is unacceptable. Our churches are filled with twice, even three-times, married folks. Heck, even some of the pastors have been married more than once!

    Of course, the UMC doesn’t believe that it should be led by the culture when it comes to homosexuality, but has chosen to nuance its position on divorce when the fine heterosexual folks in its churches decide that its time to move on to another spouse (and btw, therefore continue to keep up their tithes and offerings in the process). I’m, of course, being sarcastic here but the truth is that the UMC has chosen to follow the culture when it’s convenient (i.e. divorce) and chosen to strictly adhere to scripture written two thousand years ago and in a completely different language when it comes to something that may make some people uncomfortable (homosexuality).

    There was a lot of talk at General Conference about what the UMC needs to do to become relevant to the modern world and in the process get a few people in the pews again.

    The answer is quite simple.

    Stop being a bunch of mean-spirited hypocrites and start living out the love of Christ and you’ll find that people will want to join you.

    1. Hope Jordan D. Guerrero

      Yeah, I think that the UMC ought to rule against divorce once again and reword as “Divorce in incompatible with Christian thinking.”

      And this is what is sad: the Methodist Church long ago compromised the clear Biblical teaching against divorce and accommodated to secular society. Now the UMC hasn’t the moral high ground against the petition to redefine another sin into something “normal.”

      However, just because the UMC compromised on one sin DOES NOT MEAN she should compromise again on another sin. Where then will it stop? What will the UMC do when pedophiles and porn addicts petition the Gen Com to redefine their sin as a “blessing” should the UMC give in to the LGBT?

    2. Gerry

      Sam, I am sure you realize that no one can control what others do, this include divorce, however, we can control our own behavior. Clergy has the freedom of choice about uniting same sex couples in marital union but in doing so, they are choosing to ignore their oath as an ordained United Methodist clergy. .

  3. Hank

    People,It’s not what I think or what you think. But It’s what God thinks. Read your Bible and you will
    find out what God thinks.We will all stand in judgement for our sins.

  4. Samuel

    I haven’t read any comments that showed understanding of the UMC position on homosexuality. Just because someone is homosexual, does not mean it is acceptable. FACT: Sexual child abuse is a sin. FACT: Sexual child abuse exists. FACT: Adultery is a sin. FACT: Adultery exists. FACT: Homosexuality is a sin. FACT: Homosexuality exists. The UMC does not say a homosexual cannot enter the kingdom of God, just as it doesn’t say an adulterer cannot enter the kingdom of God. Just because something in society exists (like a sinful act), doesn’t mean you accept it as normal and “unsinful” in our denominational beliefs. What is most important to understand is this FACT: God loves ALL sinners the same, whether a child abuser, adulterer, homosexual, thief, murderer, or liar. Thankfully, my sin is no worse (or better) than anyone else’s. And the current UMC Book of Discipline is in line with that belief. Paragraph 161.F states, “We affirm that God’s grace is available to all.” Most importantly, we must understand that our Book of Discipline is not the Book of Judgment…that would be the Bible.

  5. SmartGuy

    First of all, let me point out that homosexuality is a sin. God made a world in which we can live and enjoy our lives and express ourselves. However, certain issues such as homosexuality have been widespread issues. That does not mean that people who agree with homosexuality are “gay”, but is does mean that if you give the devil an inch, he will take a mile. Think about how a homosexual eats at the same restaurant, uses the same public restroom as a lot of non-homosexual people. That is terrible to think that they use the same eating and restroom facilities as we do. Someone could get very sick. These people should be banned from going into public and residential places, execept for church and their own homes. Church is where they need to be.

  6. Hector

    How easy we reduce the Bible to our prejudices. How easy is undertake God’s will or to see sin in the “other,” quoting isolate verses from here and there.

    Jesus said the Holy Scripture is summarize in Love God and love your neighbor, using the Bible to discriminate others is an unfaithful matter.

    Grace and Peace,

    1. Chuckum


      Look to Jesus’ example in Matthew 4:1-11 as He quoted ” isolated verses from here and there”.

      He did not summarize scripture in Matthew 22:36-40 He said “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” What you do be sure you do it because of these two commandments.

      Using the Word of God in love to convict those in the church of sin is faithful.


  7. d

    The link below is the Greek/English Interliniar translation for you to read and study for yourself.
    The New Testament was originally in common Greek (Kioni Greek)

    There are slight difference with the Catholic version of the New Testament because that version was translated from Latin.

    Read for yourself and decide what it says.


  8. Tracy Merrick

    Has anyone stepped back and read the tone in these messages? So many of them are angry, mean-spirited responses written by people who are only “talking past each other!” Just listen to yourselves!!!!

    My God, my God, save us from ourselves and our sins of anger and unloving spirits which have no place within Your Church! Shake us until we learn to love and respect each other regardless of our theological perspectives, sexual orientation, race, gender, clergy – lay status, etc.

    How will the world ever believe when we behave this way? When we carry on like this, our witness reeks of self-righteousness and exclusivity and repels the generations younger than most of us…..

    Before we can tranform the world, we are going to need a healthy dose of God’s loving transformation within our precious United Methodist Church ….. I beg you now, stop the tirades and start praying for God’s spirit to blow across The UMC in new ways which will result in reconciliation to God, across the church, and to all of God’s creation….. leading to God’s shalom! Tracy Merrick

  9. Apostle Peter

    I used to be a Methodist but left as the UMC church today spends so much time away from the great commisions mandate to share the good news of the Gospel. By instead permitting the derailment of the great commision by a relative handful of gay rights advocates the leadership is damaging the body. Permitting the acting out for a cause that clearly involves sex acts which are clearly stated to be an abomination to God by Gods word with the only desired end being to serve the sinful heart of man indicates poor disciplship on the part of the leadership in the UMC. Before I was saved I thought I had a natural right to act on the urge to have sex with as many women as I possibly could. That sin was exposed at the time I prayed the sinners prayer, repented and asked God to redeem me by the blood of Jesus at Calvary. God took away those temptations, allowing me a righteous life in Christ. Man up bishops, it’s not about what “feels” right. It has everything to do with your eternal lives.

  10. Jean Young-Jones

    amen, Apostle Peter. Live by the word and not the world. The world has always been confused, so get out of what this new age is saying and get into what God tells us He wants for us.

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