Keith Underhill: December 2015
Within the Church, people have many views about human relationships and the nature and purpose of marriage.
A major change to the law in 2014 enabled the introduction of same-sex civil marriage. Churches and other religious groups were given the legal option to opt-in to conduct weddings for same-sex partners.
Following wide consultation, the Methodist Conference in 2014 agreed that more time was needed for careful reflection before deciding whether to look again at our understanding of marriage. Same-sex marriage is not the only consideration. There are wider issues in relation to human relationships in the modern world which may or may not lead the church to reconsider our definition of marriage.
The Conference in 2014 urged the Methodist people to engage with each other honestly, prayerfully and graciously in a process of deep reflection and discernment about matters relating to marriage and human relationships.
The current definition of marriage that is found in our Standing Orders and reflected in our authorised service for the solemnisation of marriage is:
"...marriage is a gift of God and it is God's intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman" SO 011A
There are two specific questions that the Conference has asked to be considered:
Whether the Methodist understanding of Christian marriage should be revisited
Whether the 1992 Conference Statement "A Christian Understanding of Family Life, the Single Person and Marriage" should be updated.
The Marriage and Relationships Task Group has asked the Connexion to particularly consider and feedback on:
The wider conversations will be ongoing in our church because we are committed to staying together as a church even though there are contradictory convictions held within our fellowship. However, we have been asked for feedback from the district on the two questions above by the end of February 2016.
Earlier this year Keith attended a Connexional consultation on the subject and will be leading a session here at church on Tuesday 19th January 2106 at 7:30pm to help us explore some of these issues. This meeting is open to everyone
Attached above is a pdf document from Roots about living with contradictory convictions.
Please also look at the Methodist Website page that has been set up to support this work: http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/views-of-the-church/human-sexuality/talking-of-marriage-and-relationships. This includes a variety of background material as well as the Conference report "A Christian Understanding of Family Life, the Single Person and Marriage"
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