Same-sex marriage may be legal in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that all churches are allowed to perform same-sex ceremonies.
The United Methodist Church forbids its churches from being used for same-sex wedding. It also bans its clergy from officiating at same-sex weddings. Clergy who violate this policy risk getting defrocked.
In protest, a Texas church recently voted to stop hosting any weddings – same-sex or opposite-sex – as long as the policy remains in place.
The First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin announced on its website that its congregation had voted 93 percent in favor of the new resolution ‘to align its wedding policies with its strongly-held principle of full inclusion of all persons.’
The church published a video on its website explaining what led to its decision:
‘This sacrifice embodies our love and support for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,’ said church member Darcy Hamre in the video.
‘This is a step we feel called to take as we continue to strive for change in the wider church,’ Rev. Taylor Fuerst, the church’s senior pastor, said in the video.
Behind the decision
Fuerst told the Huffington Post Queer Voices section that the congregation opted to take action after three same-sex couples, each of whom were prominent leaders in the Austin church, were forced to find alternate wedding sites because of the denomination’s stance.
‘They didn’t even have the option to wed in the church,’ Fuerst told HuffPost.
‘Their weddings were joyful, beautiful occasions,’ Fuerst said, ‘but it was painful to have the shadow of this exclusion over so many people who are faithful, growing disciples of Christ and leaders in our congregation.
‘It goes directly against what we believe Jesus taught and revealed to us about God in scripture.’
Against church policy
The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline states that ‘homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.’
The denomination’s policies prohibit ‘self-avowed practicing homosexuals’ from being ordained as ministers. It also forbids it clergy and churches from performing or hosting same-sex weddings.
‘We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman,’ the United Methodist Church website states.
The denomination has over seven million members in the United States; millions more worldwide.
In its resolution, the Austin church stated that the denomination’s policies regarding marriage and sexuality ‘are incompatible with the inclusive teachings of Jesus Christ, as well as our United Methodist Constitution, and are fundamentally contrary to our mission and to our service to each member of the church.’
Opposite-sex couples that scheduled their weddings at the Austin church before the resolution was announced will still be able to hold them as planned, but no new ceremonies will be booked now that this policy is in place.