Petition on Homosexuality

Policies on Homosexuality

Petition to the 2020 United Methodist General Conference

by Howard W. Hallman

Add to the United Methodist Book of Discipline:

Because United Methodists lack a consensus on matters of homosexuality there shall be no church-wide policies on this issue.  Rather local churches and conferences (within this order of preference) may adopt their own policies on homosexuality or may choose not to address this issue.

In keeping with a commitment to policy freedom on matters of homosexuality the following changes shall be made in the 2016 Book of Discipline:

From ¶161 C) Marriage. Delete “We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

From ¶161 G) Human Sexuality. Delete “Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.” and “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this teaching incompatible with Christian teaching.

From ¶304 Qualifications for Ordination – 3. Delete “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.  Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.

From ¶341 Unauthorized Conduct ­­­– 6. Delete “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.

From ¶415.6. [Consecration of bishops.] Delete “Bishops are prohibited from consecrating bishops who are self-avowed practicing homosexuals, even if they have been duly elected by the jurisdictional or central conference. Bishops are prohibited from commissioning those onthe deacon or elder track if the Board of Ordained Ministry has determined the individual is a self-avowed practicing homosexual or has failed to certify it carried out the disciplinarily mandated examination, even if the individual has been recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry and approved by the clergy session of the annual conference. Bishops are prohibited from ordaining deacons or elders if the Board of Ordained Ministry has determined the individual is a self-avowed practicing homosexual or has failed to certify it carried out the disciplinarily mandated examination, even if the individual has been recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry and approved by the clergy session of the annual conference.

From ¶613. Responsibilities [of The Conference Council on Finance and Administration] – 19.  Delete “To ensure that no annual conference board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or other use such funds to promote acceptance of homosexuality….The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures.

From ¶806. Fiscal Responsibilities [of the General Council of Finance and Administration] – 9. Delete “It shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or other use such funds to promote acceptance of homosexuality…. The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures.

From ¶2702 [Chargeable Offenses] – 1. Delete (b) practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.

From ¶2711.3 [Penalties – If the Trial Results in Conviction  Delete “However, where the conviction is for conducting ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies under ¶ 2702.1(b) or (d), the trial court does not have the power to and may not fix a penalty less than the following :a) First (1st) offense –One (1) year’s suspension without pay. b) Second (2nd) offense –Not less than termination of conference membership and revocation of credentials of licensing, ordination, or consecration.

September 18, 2019

Submitted by Howard W. Hallman

415 Russell Avenue, Apt. 719, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

301 216-5331   hwhallman@verizon.net

Member, Bethesda United Methodist Church, Bethesda Maryland

 

God’s Kingdom & Secular Government

Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This raises the question of what is the nature of God’s kingdom on earth.

In thinking about this in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we can be certain that God’s kingdom isn’t a political domain ruled by an earthly monarch. Jesus made this clear in the wilderness when he rejected the devil’s offer to rule over all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-10). For his disciples Jesus contrasted Gentile rulers who exercise authority by ordering people around with a different approach: “Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant” (Mark 10:42-45).

Rather God’s kingdom on earth is a way of life based upon experiencing God’s presence in daily living, in loving both neighbor and enemy, by practicing forgiveness, offering mercy, seeking justice, and acting as peacemaker.

That is not to say that role of government is inconsequential. In the founding documents of American democracy the Declaration of Independence states that governments are instituted to secure the rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution specifies the following purposes: “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.”

Accordingly we can use our governments as instruments for achieving features of God’s kingdom on earth including freedom of association, equal rights before the law, social and economic justice for all. We can remember that in Jesus’ allegory of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), it is nations who gathered before the judgment throne. They are judged by how well they have fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, welcomed strangers (read immigrants), clothed the naked, taken care of the sick, and visited prisoners. Given emphasis upon mercy throughout the Bible, we can add restorative justice as another concern. We can also recognize the importance of freedom with a biblical heritage going back to Moses appearance before Pharaoh demanding, “Let my people go!”

Thus, although God’s kingdom on earth isn’t a political domain as such, our governments have relevance in advancing the cause of God’s kingdom.

 Howard W. Hallman lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is author of Living in God’s Kingdom: Here and Now, available from Amazon.