The United States’ second-largest Protestant denomination, the United Methodist Church, voted Tuesday to strengthen its embrace of marriage between one man and one woman, laid out in the church’s so-called “Traditional Plan.”
In an unexpected turn, the UMC’s delegates decided to reject the “One Church Plan,” which would have permitted individual church leaders and regional annual conference officials to decide whether to ordain and marry LGBTQ members, according to The Associated Press.
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, described the denomination’s unexpected vote as historic, because its delegates “voted to uphold biblical standards of sexual morality.”
“Understand what happened,” he explained. “Yesterday, in St. Louis, Missouri, a major mainline Protestant denomination in the United States said ‘no’ to the sexual revolution. It has never happened before. It happened yesterday. We had better pay close attention.”
The “Traditional Plan,” backed by the church’s conservative delegates, was approved by a vote of 438-384. It should be noted 43 percent of the plan’s backers came from overseas, many from African countries.
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The Rev. Jerry Kulah of Liberia said “the church in Africa would cease to exist” if the ban on LGBTQ clergy were lifted. He went on to say he “can’t do anything but support the Traditional Plan” because it is “the biblical plan.”
Other ministers in the U.S., like the Rev. Scott Hagan of Bonaire, Georgia, said turning away from the biblical understanding of marriage by allowing each UMC church to take its own theological position on the issue would be “confusing.”
“To have each church — possibly in the same town — offering a different perspective and practice would surely be confusing to the public that comes to the church looking for guidance,” Hagan explained.