The United Methodist Church ruled in it’s special called general conference to uphold the church’s traditional view that homosexuality is sinful. It did so by a narrow margin – 53% in favor of the “Traditional Plan” and 47% in view of the “One Church Plan,” which allowed for individual churches and conferences to determine their own views on homosexuality and still remain a part of the “United” Methodist Church.
As a Baptist who holds to a Biblical understanding of marriage, I rejoice over the decision of my brothers and sisters in the Methodist church to approve the Traditional Plan and grieve over the division that this ongoing debate has created (and will continue to create). I am thankful to the 53% of the United Methodist delegates who voted to uphold the Word of God. Regardless of our denominational labels, I am proud to be called a brother to these Godly men and women.
But this special called conference is about more than marriage and homosexuality. This special called conference was equally about church polity. Just listen to the names of the proposed plans: the Traditional Plan and the One Church Plan. If we don’t look carefully, we’ll miss the subtle inference of the plans themselves.
The vote was certainly about the issue of homosexuality inclusion of the church, but it became equally about church polity. The One Church Plan was proposed to create a division of theology within a unity of churches. The Traditional Plan was proposed to maintain a unity of doctrine even at the expense of the division of churches. The One Church Plan says, “keeping our churches together is more important than keeping God’s Word.” The Traditional Plan says, “keeping God’s Word is more important than keeping our churches together.”
Even more important than the decision of the United Methodist Church to affirm Biblical marriage is the decision to approve the supremacy of God’s Word within the church. Godly bishops, particularly from Africa, boldly declared their allegiance to God’s Word, even in the face of criticism. Praise God for these bishops! I pray that I would be so bold. The bishops of the UMC were faced with the same question Paul proposed to the Galatians: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” (Galatians 1:10). The United Methodist Church as a whole has decided, for now, to seek the approval of God. Our prayers are that they would continue to do so.