The United Methodist Church’s own official media vehicle, the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) has published an article arguing that sexual relationships outside the covenant of marriage are not necessarily improper.
The article entitled “An Ordained Single Woman and the Discipline”was published in a large series on the topic of ‘Sex and the Church” in the weekly online newsletter. Many of the postings in this series have been viewed by many Methodists as ‘pushing the envelope’ on these topics, but this is one of two that clearly are promoting homosexual behavior for clergy.
The author is the article is a divorced minister (an ‘Elder’ according to Methodist terminology, meaning a minister who has completed seminary training). However the church magazine does not identify the author, honoring her request “that it be printed anonymously due to the strong opinions expressed and the nature of the Disciplinary strictures on her role as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church.”
The magazine further explains: Articles in the “Sex and the church” series are intended to stimulate thought, provoke discussion and lead to understanding about how diverse human sexuality is as a topic, often eluding simple answers.
The writer asserts that going through a marriage ceremony covenant wedding vows are exchanged is not necessarily “a dividing line between moral and immoral” sexual relations.
Here is the lead and a link to the full article:
“Immorality including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness …” is among the chargeable offenses of persons who have made a covenant to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. These offenses are listed in ¶2702.1 in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2008.
This particular offense was accepted by a close vote in 2004 as a change to the Discipline by the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body.
As a single person, who is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, I want to use the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to discern the wisdom and difficulties in this rule. This essay is predicated on my belief that sexuality can be morally and fully expressed only within a relationship by two consenting adults who are without monogamous commitments or covenants with any other partner.
This essay is also predicated on the fact that important power dynamics exist which must be considered within any clergy/lay relationship. These dynamics preclude sexual intimacy unless there is consultation with a community of persons concerned about both individuals.
I have been ordained as an elder within The United Methodist Church for almost 15 years. I was ordained while married and a mother. I divorced for very powerful reasons and thus became a single mother as clergy. At this writing, I am an empty nester, appointed into a clergy role outside the local church.