A United Methodist Church pastor has caused controversy after stating that Christians can support the marital union of homosexuals without betraying the word of God.
Pastor Adam Hamilton took particular issue with those who accuse gay-affirming Christians of abandoning the “historic essentials of the Christian faith.”
“So orthodoxy now means that I hold a particular view of same-gender marriage and/or a particular view of Scripture that gets me to a particular view of same-gender marriage,” the pastor said last week in his address at a conference organized by the group “Uniting Methodists” in Dallas.
“I think that’s a tragic reading. It’s interesting it doesn’t show up in any of the creeds, anything about same-gender marriage or even a particular doctrine on scripture doesn’t show up in any of the creeds, but that’s now become how some have looked at orthodoxy,” he said.
Hamilton also took aim at those on either side of the debate who insist they are 100 percent correct in their views.
“We feel like we can’t be around people like that who believe these things that are different from what I believe or practice something different or interpret the Scripture differently,” the pastor continued. “Then we start calling them names. We pick the good names for us and we pick the bad names for them. We’re the orthodox, that must mean you’re the heretics.”
Hamilton believes United Methodist churches must come together now and rediscover the faith that unites them. He does, however, believe that individual church parishes should be allowed to determine where they stand on this most sensitive theological issue. So, he helped set up the group “Uniting Methodists” to encourage local churches to claim autonomy over these pastoral matters.
“We call for disciplinary changes so that clergy are neither compelled to officiate at same-sex weddings nor prohibited from doing so,” the group state last year, according to Christian Post. “We call for disciplinary changes so that annual conferences are neither compelled to ordain LGBTQ persons, nor prohibited from doing so.”
The United Methodist Church has been in disarray in recent years due to flat-out disagreements over homosexuality.
“Our denomination is in chaos,” the Rev. Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus of Ginghamsburg Church, told Religion News Service in June. “Our bishops don’t agree with each other. I hear fear. I hear denial. We’ve come to this place where we reflect what’s going on in our national politics now. It’s a sad day.”
And despite efforts from progressive pastors like Hamilton, the issue threatens to cause a major schism in the denomination.
“There’s a sense of unease about the future,” added the Rev. Joe Stobaugh, executive minister of worship and arts at Grace Avenue United Methodist Church in Frisco, Texas.
If you click through to the denomination’s website, the official teaching on homosexuality appears very clear:
“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.”
It also notes a clear policy against same-sex marriage:
“Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”
Earlier this year, the Rev. Val Rosenquist, who in 2016 rejected denominational teaching, marrying two male members of her congregation at First United Methodist in uptown Charlotte, weighed in on the controversy.
Rosenquist told the Charlotte Observer that “to continue the exclusion of people who are LGBTQ, to continue closing its doors, would send the message that we as a denomination are ready to die.”
The Rev. Talbot Davis, however, vehemently disagrees with this sentiment.
“We are in support of the beautifully biblical picture of marriage as between a man and a woman,” he told the Observer, noting that any union outside of traditional marriage should not be given a seal of approval by the Methodist Church.