United Methodism’s bishops and General Board of Church and Society refuse to acknowledge their church’s official position, affirmed at General Conference by over 70 percent, affirming “laws in civil society defining marriage as the union of man and woman.”
So revered evangelical leader Maxie Dunnam, former Asbury Seminary president, articulates the United Methodist reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage:
Anything that could have happened today with the Supreme Court would have been culturally impactful. It’s what happens now that will be culture shaping. As I noted in a Tweet, a part of the Defense of Marriage Law was struck down because of financial reasons. The way the Federal Government taxes people should not define marriage. And interestingly, California’s Proposition 8 was annulled not by deliberate decision of the Court, but by “default” (the defenders of the Proposition had not standing with the Court.)
It is not only the witness of the Christian Church, but the witness of previous generations and various cultures that marriage is between a man and a woman…and the Church says, “between one man and one woman.” We do not have to change that understanding of marriage to guarantee people civil rights as it relates to the sharing of financial resources and other dimensions of committed relationships.The Church can champion the guaranteeing of those rights without compromising the meaning of marriage.
The echoing refrain from the secular quarter and the public square is that the die is cast and that the pattern of marriage as defined by the Church is doomed. But the Church is not shaped by culture; we are called to shape culture. Let’s take hope and have confidence in the fact that, as Kingdom People, we have been at our best when we have had to set ourselves against culture. Somehow we must learn to be “in the world” but not “of the world.”
I personally don’t know a more challenging need today than for Christians to demonstrate the meaning of marriage, and for us to model the rich meaning and blessing of sexualty expressed procreatively and faithfully and in the covenant of marriage. If marriage is, as we understand it, a life covenant between one man and one woman, we must not allow the decision of the Court to determine otherwise.