Next weekend the Special Session of the General Conference will begin for the United Methodist Church. There has been a lot said about the One Church Plan, the Traditional Plan, and the Connectional Conference plan. But there has not been much discussion about what happens in the event of a church split.
Currently, the Book of Discipline, the lawbook for the denomination, has something called the Trust Clause. You may be wondering what that means exactly. Briefly, the trust clause says that even though the local church holds the deed to the property the church is on and the building itself, it is held in trust for the United Methodist Church Denomination. Now, what does that mean? Basically, if a church leaves the denomination, the denomination keeps the property. The local church loses everything.
I am sure that there were good intentions when this practice began, but today it seems that it could be used as a weapon against local churches. This is especially true in a time when the church is poised to make a decision that could say we no longer believe the Bible at all on human sexuality, marriage, and the qualifications of ordination. For that matter, it is a vote that says the church may no longer believe what the Bible says about sin in general.
There have been petitions added to either suspend or do away with, the trust clause during this time of uncertainty on the way forward. There are rumors that this type of plan will be the only thing to pass during the General Conference next week.
In my opinion, this needs to happen regardless of the voted plan. The United Methodist Church is increasingly abandoning the teachings of Scripture and I am sure there are probably many local churches that would pull out if they could without the legal implications of the trust clause.
As we look forward to next month’s Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church regarding human sexuality, I have one simple question, what changed? If the current doctrine of the church, which should be based on Scripture and Scripture alone, says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity, then what changed?
What in Scripture has changed to make this debate come to the floor? What Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic term changed its definition so that the interpretation of thousands of years is suddenly incorrect? What has changed that has made the church realize that all of a sudden LGBTQ is compatible with Christianity?
Of course, the answer is that nothing has changed. If the church allows LGBTQ pastors and marriages it is not because something has changed with God’s view on the matter. It is not because Scripture was wrongly interpreted. It is not because Scripture has changed. It is not because the Holy Spirit is leading that way.
If the United Methodist Church embraces the LGBTQ lifestyle it is because they have departed from God’s Word. It is as simple as that. The church would no longer be following God. The church would no longer be pointed toward Christ Jesus. Instead, it would be pointed and aligned toward Satan and the work of fallen mankind.
The only thing the church can do next month is to adopt the Traditional Plan. There is no other option that is compatible with God’s Word. Not the One Church Plan, not the Connectional Conference Plan. Only the Traditional Plan upholds the biblical view on the matter.
Out of the three possible plans for a way forward, there is one that the Council of Bishops do not want to see pass, The Traditional Plan. The Traditional plan would almost guarantee a split in the United Methodist Church. Namely, churches that want to support the sin of the LGBTQ lifestyle will leave. Of course, some, myself included, would see this as a purification process for the church.
Simply put, the Traditional Plan (TP) would keep the current position of the United Methodist Church stating that homosexuality is not compatible with Christianity and that there is to be no LGBTQ clergy or weddings within the church. The TP would go further to add strict enforcement to the doctrine as well. Every annual conference will have to certify that they will uphold the doctrine or else they will be removed from the United Methodist Church. This includes clergy and bishops as well.
The TP upholds biblical standards with regard to homosexuality and LGBTQ positions. They are sinful and, as such, are not compatible with the Christian life or the Church. Romans 1 makes very clear how God views the LGBTQ lifestyle:
Romans 1:26-27 ESV
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
The passions of the LGBTQ movement are dishonorable. They are unnatural. They are against God’s created order and they are sin.
Because of this truth, the Traditional Plan is the only biblical plan that is on the table for the 2019 Special General Conference and is the plan that I endorse.