In the past few weeks, many events have taken place in our country that have brought a mix of emotions to people. I do not think that it is my place to ever use my position to expound my personal feelings about political issues. But, on June 28th, I shared the follow during our prayer time.
The Supreme Court is charged with interpreting the US Constitution and not the Bible. Adam Hamilton put it this way in a blog post this week: “ The Court is not asked to discern God’s will, or what constitutes ethical or moral behavior for Christians. Likewise, Christians do not determine their morals from public opinion polls. The Supreme Court ruling does not directly address how pastors, churches, and individual Christians must or should view the issue of same-sex marriage.”
Currently, the official position of the United Methodist church is that gay and lesbian couples cannot enter into the covenant of marriage. Methodist clergy are not allowed to bless the marriage of same sex couples and such marriage ceremonies may not be held in United Methodist Churches. On Saturday, June 27th, all clergy in our conference received an email from our Bishop reminding of this, but also encouraging all pastors “to continue to reach out to all persons, within and outside of the church, whatever their sexual orientation or beliefs about marriage.... I pray that we will be known as people who show one another great patience and love even as we deal with our differences. May we love each other as Christ loves us (John 13:34-35).”
The official position of the United Methodist church can only be determined by the General Conference which will meet in May of 2016. I expect that at that time, there will be much debate about this issue. Within the United Methodist Church, faithful Christians disagree about how the scriptures should be interpreted concerning this issue and I am certain that within our congregation there is a variety of opinions concerning this topic.
However, I have brought this up to encourage us all to be in prayer about how we can faithfully respond to one another – particularly to those with whom we disagree. Our witness is greatest in how we treat one another. Whatever the issue is--whether it is about same sex marriage or what flag flies at a state capital--our witness is most faithful when we show grace and love to others even in the face of their disdain.
So, my prayer request is that we will seek God. We will seek to be people of grace. We will seek to show love to all even when that same love is not offered to us.
As the Bishop wrote, May we love each other as Christ loves us.