Good News Statement on Supreme Court Decision

While not surprising, the Supreme Court’s decision to broaden the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples is still dismaying. Its decision redefines an institution that has been part of the bedrock of human civilization for millennia, and it runs counter to the teachings of nearly all world religions, particularly Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. We also believe the court has overstepped its bounds by usurping a function properly left to the people and legislatures of the various states. There is no constitutional mandate requiring the Supreme Court to administer, define, or redefine the institution of marriage.

We are confident The United Methodist Church will remain faithful to the biblical teaching that marriage is intended to be a lifelong “covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman.” This understanding is rooted in Scripture, the traditions of the Church universal, reason and experience. We believe it reflects the unchanging will of God for the flourishing of humanity. United Methodists are well aware that our unwavering commitment to biblical truth does not depend upon judicial affirmation by the Supreme Court of this or any other nation. We are also confident that Christians from many denominations will continue to believe and act in harmony with our shared deeply held beliefs that God ordained human sexuality to be experienced between a man and a woman in the covenant of heterosexual marriage. We will stand with our brothers and sisters, and will continue to teach and act accordingly.

Christians have always been called to be countercultural to the world’s values and actions.  As Wesleyans, we take that charge seriously.  We are to be people who love the broken and the mistreated and at the same time promote scriptural holiness, knowing that the ways of God, though at times difficult to follow, always bring freedom, healing and life. We are in the world, but not of the world, and we will not let the world determine what we believe or how we minister to persons who are hurting and lost.

We deplore the likely negative impact this decision will have on religious freedom, educational opportunity, and religious charitable work across the country. Many individuals and organizations will be forced to choose between their deeply held principles and government mandates, possibly jeopardizing their efforts to provide education, health services, adoption, food programs, and many other benefits that minister to the needs of people in our country and around the world.

At the same time, we encourage United Methodists to continue to reach out in love and ministry to all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or beliefs about marriage. “We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self.” We are called to give ourselves selflessly in love and service to others, as well as to lead all persons into “a knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness” (Titus 1:1).

We call upon all people, particularly those who disagree with the Supreme Court ruling, to refrain from violence or hateful and abusive language directed at gays or lesbians or their supporters. We will elevate the debate above fear, hatred, and prejudice in order to consider reason, principle, and the common good. We will heed the admonition of Scripture that we “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness,” (I Timothy 2:2) so that both our words and our actions glorify God and bring credit to the name of Jesus Christ.

Comments

  1. My heart is sad that we have come to this moment. I continue to pray for this nation, that we will return to the truth. My heart is broken.

  2. Claire Spencer says

    I totally agree with the statement above. It is very well worded.

  3. Your concern that the Supreme Court has overstepped its bounds in that up until now, marriage was something left to the discretion of the states. But, from what I understand, in their ruling to uphold Obamacare, they have now redefined the word “state” to mean the federal government! Ponder those implications!

  4. The Supreme Court has lost sight of God and the morality that is required of them. They have destroyed the free exercise of religion that our Constitution guarantees citizens. From Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. This verse tells us that by getting away with legislating from the bench over the years their hearts have become harden / darkened to moral issues. In Ps 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. In the KJV “There is” is in italics, meaning the interpreter inserted these words. If we left out these two words, the meaning would say No, God. In other words these people are saying “No” to God. The foolish man is destitute of faith in God. So they (SCOTUS) put God aside from their considerations and morality and are destroying the Constitution as well.

  5. It isn’t what people decided to do behind closed doors that bothers me as much as what people are doing in the open in view of all to see. The hatred people have for one another, the racism, the walking on the American flag, the banning of the confederate flag, the daily shootings and killings. American Christians and Christians of other countries need to unite and take back are country. The one thats roots was built on the faith of God. One nation under God, for it is in God we trust.

  6. Jim Short says

    Dear Good News Editorializer,

    You lost me at that point in your article where you expressed concern that the SCROTUS decision might negatively impact the educational opportunities and the charitable contributions that are provided for those in need. I’m a little puzzled here as to what you are implying. Are you afraid that some persons unhappy with the decision might actually cut off or cut back on their ministry of compassion to humans who are in need of that ministry the most? Really? Do you believe that some of us Christian folk will take out our resentment toward the Court on the poor and helpless and oppresses people’s of the earth? Would authentic followers of the Christ really consider doing that?

    • Factor in the loss of tax exempt status if we do not comply with same sex marriages in our churches and by our clergy. Will that not effect disposable income?

  7. William T says

    AMEN!! God Bless.

  8. The decision of the Supreme Court will surely influence the position of some delegates to the General Conference, creating much more pressure to “go along”. However, it may give opportunity to re-affirm our understanding that while the church is in society it does not necessarily affirm societal positions. Sadly, though, I’m afraid that our United Methodist “salt” has lost much of its saltiness and our UM “light” shines dimly on these matters.
    I am wondering what the impact of this decision will be on the education of our children in public schools. What will be taught regarding families and human sexuality and what will be the impact of that education, especially upon adolescents?

  9. It appears that our country has decided that man and his affinities will be the measure of society. We no longer turn to spiritual sources for counsel, but rather seek to justify our predilections by relying the latest trend. If this was merely a societal issue or tendency, it would be horrible enough; however, to see it seeping into and festering among those of our church is beyond sad. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has given some of our progressive brethren reason to affirm their already bankrupt stance. That stance, however, is based on man’s reasoning, rather than God’s wisdom. We should never allow the “flavor of the day” to trump God’s guidance.

  10. The Supreme Court, because of the establishment clause of the first amendment cannot base its decisions on the Bible. The dissent thought that the issue should be further debated in the states and voted on. The Court disagreed and found that marriage between a same sex couple is a fundamental right which could not be abridged by a state. The Court has decided that civil marriage is equally available to same sex and opposite sex couples. That is over and will not likely be changed in our lifetime. The important question now is what do the churches say for persons getting married in their sancturaries? Now, as opposed to the Supreme Court, the Churches can and must base the decision on the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, Muslims Buddhists and others must consult their appropriate texts. This is ok, it is the separation of church and state and freedom of religion should be allowed. The Catholics and the Baptists have stated their position. The Episcopalians and the Presbyterians (USA) have stated theirs. The UMC has a current position in the Discipline. The question is will it stand?

    • William T says

      James,
      In my opinion, this court made its most egregious error with this ruling in the history of the republic. The five justices who voted for this decision, as stated in the accompanying opinion espoused by Kennedy, demonstrated such raw politicall ideology that it has rendered this institution to little more than a liberal political rally accompanied with its usual political spin and slick sounding talking points. Kennedy’s statement was an insult to honesty, integrity, truth, logical deduction, reasoning, common sense, legal ethics, and to the Supreme Court of the United States itself. His convoluted, incoherent, contradicting, misleading, and flawed argument based on the absurd premise of “marriage equality” completely failed to substantiate that premise. A false, deceiving, emotionally charged argument won the day because these justices took off their robes and put on their political suits. These justices have, indeed, taken this branch of government to an all time low. May God help us as future religious freedom, liberty, and practice cases come before them.

  11. Very good statement …thank you. I was also wondering if you saw Bishop Palmer’s statement …(sited in um reporter) ? …. And wondered your thoughts …personally I was discouraged and somewhat frustrated by his statement …so again thank you for your gracious and truthful statement.

    • Correction: It was Bishop Brown, presiding president of the council of Bishops who made the statement … (not sure how I got the name Bishop Palmer in my head) .

  12. William T says

    Some additional, eye opening commentary below. Looks like this war has just begun with relation to religious freedom, religious liberty, and, most importantly, religious practice. Orthodox Christianity is faced with how it wants this war to end. Will religious rights continue to be lost at the hands of big government, primarily through the judicial branch, or will religious rights be restored and protected as originally intended? A bloody, causality filled real war was fought over religious liberity, one driving motive, in America, in the late 1700s.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/june/supreme-court-states-cant-ban-same-sex-marriage.html

    • I really do not believe that this “war” for religious freedom is the right focus. Are Christians going to refuse to sell wedding cakes to Hindus or atheists who are getting married? If this is what we are preaching? I could see wider ramifications for loss of tax breaks etc. if this is our approach. I attend weddings of those who are of different faiths and/or no faith at all out of common respect and love of the individuals involved. The civil issue on same sex weddings has been decided. The various Christian denominations are taking their positions–this is what is important–having the correct interpretation of the Bible and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Catholics do not ordain women priests. Do you see Catholics refusing to bake a wedding cake for folks who are going to be married by a woman minister? Its the wrong spirit. We should be known by our love and by our cultivating successful and loving marriages and families and also accepting sinners of all types. There are all kinds of important land laws in the old testament that we do not adhere to. See Rueben Archer Torrey Biblical Economics.

  13. Dottie Chase says

    June 27th, 2015, a devastating day that will lead to a lot of clean up: no hurricane, tornado or flood but a decision by the “Supreme” Court of the United States of American to make same sex union legal as a Federal issue. We will see how the states react and respond to this overriding ruling of states issues.

    This is my firm belief: God is sovereign and in charge. God created humans to be His companions in a pure world. Since humans have choices, we have made many mistakes that has/will lead our nation astray. So we live in a world that is being overcome by human errors. I believe there are three kinds of love which God established. His, of course, is called agape (pure love). The second is philio (brotherly, sister, family love) and erotica (sexual) love. We continually get them mixed up.

    I also believe that there are three types of God’s will. His perfect will, His permissive will and His ultimate will. We continually work to erode them all by being totally and humanly selfish. We want what we want, when we want and we don’t care what God or others want or think.

    So to those who say I am lacking love or acceptance of the person, please understand that it is the actions not the persons that should be condemned.

    We will continue to pray for grace, love and acceptance of God’s permissive will through these days and wait for the day of His ultimate will!!
    Dottie Chase

  14. Bishop Brown’s letter seems to place the ethic of equality and the Supreme Court above following the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Again, the laws and the Court serve their own purpose, but they are by design separate from answering spiritual and ethical questions posed to Christians and other faiths. Indeed, as I said before, judges and law makers are required not to base their decisions and laws on Biblical grounds because of the establishment clause. Thomas Jefferson the author of “..life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” was imbued with the egalitarian spirit of the enlightenment. This has brought about many good things in our history. But as he attempted to rewrite the Bible, he excluded many important items such as the resurrection. Moreover, he was not persuaded to be led by the Holy Spirit but by reason alone. Are we following Jefferson or Jesus? The Bishop needs to ask “What is the Bible and the Holy Spirit calling us to do–?”–not the Courts. Christian abolitionists led the fight against slavery long before the Supreme Court did anything. Free Methodists have long been on the forefront of racial inclusion, but they now oppose same sex marriage in the church. Of course we need to try to be inclusive of all persons and cultures. The Supreme Court’s decision creates vast separations especially in countries other than the USA that have not been on this roller coaster of sexual freedom and permissiveness. We are too taken with Baal.The direction of the Supreme Court excludes vast millions. No, we should be inclusive by offering salvation through Jesus Christ and not being ashamed of his Word. No doubt we show love to all. Shouldn’t we be inclusive of Catholics, Baptists, and the Anglican Church of North America?

    • William T says

      James,
      The inclusive vs exclusive argument waged by liberal UMC Christians over the years on this matter has been based on a fake, manufactured, and convenient premise. Their position has been that the church needs to practice inclusion, radical hospitality, brotherly/sisterly love, and full embrace secular defined civil rights at the price of excluding the second step of the Wesleyan formula of Salvation. (1) Prevenient Grace , God’s invitation to ALL (the UMC Open Door) does not exclude anyone. All are welcome. Nobody is excluded. If they are, it’s against God’s will. But, once there, then comes the need to partake of God’s (2) Justifying Grace. This seems to be the stumbling block for many of the liberal persuaded who want the church, even demand that the church, accept them as is, even if this requires the church to change its Biblical understanding, its doctrine, and its theology iin order to demonstrate an open door inclusiveness. They seem to contend that they can experience and fully participat in God’s (3) Sanctifying Grace by skipping or redefining (2) Justifying Grace. And, they have managed to force the church to accommodate them over the years by calling those who question or challenge this new prophetic theology and doctrine, with the aid of a hysterical secular political correctness environment, as unloving, bigots, haters, exclusionaries, reactionaries, civil rights violators, et al. And, the church has certainly been at fault through acquiescence resulting in the deemphasis of the core element of Wesleyan theology — (2) Justifying Grace –in its preaching, teaching, and practice. All this appears to have been a strange bedfellows unspoken conspiracy over these past forty years and has brought the United Methodist Church to the brink. Will Wesley’s greatest fear for the people called Methodists be fulfilled at General Conference 2016? May God have mercy on the people called Methodists.

      • Your response has is beautifully constructed. Sin is something we are required to clean up in our lives , something we are expected to do as Christian’s. The word is repent. I can’t tell you the last time I heard our pastor preach repentance. Can we judge others? Read in the NEW TESTAMENT 1 Corinthians 5:12. – we are asked to deal with sin “within the church” that can hurt others. God’s command on homosexuality is explicit and failing to obey can hurt us. The command that Jesus gave, “Love you neighbor as yourself ” takes on the introspection of what it means to “Love-one’s self” I can only Love myself if I am true to God and try to live as righteous a life as I can with the help of our Lord through the Holy Spirit. I must define my sin and repent in the process. The Holy Spirit helps me to see sin around me both inside and outside the church. With this knowledge I can better “Love myself” but can also offer this understanding to other’s within the church thereby “Loving my Neighbor”. Unaddressed sin gives it legitimacy.

  15. Steve Zinser says

    ***We are confident The United Methodist Church will remain faithful to the biblical teaching that marriage is intended to be a lifelong “covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman.”***

    I do not share that confidence. Instead, I view the SCOTUS decision as a likely tipping point that will provide cultural permission for cultural Christians to switch their rhetoric.

  16. K Karpen says

    Possibility, this is an opportunity for us Christians to shed our culturally-conditioned negativity towards homosexuality and focus instead on the ways of God: love, justice and reconciliation. Feeding the hungry, providing health care for the sick, providing spiritual care for the lonely, standing up for the ostracized and marginalized, those are our tasks as followers of Christ. Let’s not get bogged down in things that didn’t seem to matter to our Lord, and stop bringing discredit on his precious name!

    • William T says

      Grace. (1) Prevenient (2) Justifying, and (3) Sanctifying. — but without Justifying Grace, Santifying Grace is but a sounding gong. No amount of good works can offset the failure to confess our sins, receive forgiveness, experience conversion, and change from a sinful orientation to a new orientation and life in Christ Jesus.

      http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/our-wesleyan-heritage

    • K Karpen I noticed you did not include in the ways of God ….Salvation, Grace, forgiveness of sins and the Kingdom of God …which I believe Jesus spoke more about than Justice and reconciliation… For While I would agree in some ways that we spend too much time and energy on this issue (although we probably would disagree why… And who is really pessing the issue) …Its interesting that you list a number of social charity functions as primary… When I would see the main mission of the church as making disciples of Jesus Christ… Proclaiming the message of salvation in him …spreading the Gospel ….and witnessing to the Kingdom of God.

    • Chingachgook says

      Yes; speaking the truth should be secondary to winning people over. When they found out we obfuscated they won’t hold that against us and neither will the Lord Sovereign of the Universe since He thinks so little of the issue that He only added it to the old and new testaments. If it were important he would have written it on the moon for all to see.

      Because people who speak the truth never speak it out of love, only hate.

      …”Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

  17. These matters did (Mathew 19) and do matter to our Lord and it does not bring discredit to stand up for these teachings. Of course the other teachings concerning the poor, sick, the ostracized, the marginalized are important as well.

  18. mitchell chapman says

    Pray and fast for the truth. Jesus wants us to be set apart from the world and have a wonderful life here
    living in hIS FREEDOM. Thanks for the article. Very well done.

    God bless

    mitchell

  19. William T says

    Of course all that Jesus taught is of primary significance. However, I cannot take one of his teachings and disqualify another. I am to take the plank out of my own eye before removing the speck from my brother’s. I’m to love my neighbor as myself, after loving God with my all. I’m to adhere to and honor what Jesus taught about marriage as only between a man and a woman with no man having the authority to break up this union of one flesh by that man and woman. And, I’m to believe Scriptural teachings stating that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

  20. It is heart breaking to see how far some have wandered from the word of God. It is just as heartbreaking to see the division and chaos that has caused discussions on splits. My prayer is that we seek God’s wisdom will, word and way so that his kingdom is advanced

  21. Rev. Ronald E. Davis, Jr. says

    In 1899 the supreme court of the United States in a 9-0 decision declared the United States of America
    is a Christian Nation. You can not have it both ways, if we are a christian nation then the only recognizable marriage is a covenant relationship with God and one man and one woman. I am reminded of Jeremiah 17:5 Cursed is the man who puts his trust in man. For too long God’s people in America have put their trust in the government and the supreme court. Until we turn back to the Father and his Word we must reap what we sow.

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