Marriage is, essentially, a question of pastoral care. The church is called by God to support and bless the loving, lifelong commitment of two same-gender people as with any other family and loving commitment. Current United Methodist policy forbids marriages or Holy Unions in United Methodists buildings or by any United Methodist clergy person. Reconciling congregations have found a variety of responses to the question, how will we support and honor the loving commitment of same-gender couples? Congregations might:
- Invite gay and lesbian couples to reaffirm their vows in a church service;
- Hold no marriages in the church and ask the pastor to refrain from conducting marriages;
- Conduct marriages and Holy Unions accepting the risk of charges by the Annual Conference;
- Focus upon legislative and advocacy to change UMC policies
- Advocate for civil marriage and/or civil union equality
- Pass a marriage policy or statement of support for equality.
Ways to Discuss Christian Marriage and Holy Unions.
A church interested in creating a marriage policy might undertake a series of discussions similar to a Reconciling process. Helpful steps might include:
- Studies on the meaning of covenant and marriage about marriage
- Forums or listening sessions to discern and honor various congregational responses
- Discussions of Biblical, historical and contemporary United Methodist approaches to marriage.