Yesterday the United Methodist General Conference delegates affirmed not only that marriage is between a man and a woman but that marriage is a "covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage," an issue regarded as one of the most controversial within the church.
According to the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD), the delegates voted down the committee report that would change The Book of Discipline to explicitly condone homosexual practice by a vote of 501- 417.
Other delegates at the convention emphasized that the defeated "majority report" would have acknowledged that members of the United Methodist Church "deeply disagree with one another" on the issue of homosexuality.
Frederick Brewington, a layman who is a member of the New York Annual Conference called the failed report a "mature way forward" and "an honest, yet humble approach to how we are to view one another," according to the United Methodist News Service.
The executive director of the IRD UMAction Committee, Mark Tooley noted, that the vote was indicative of the views of the Methodists.”
"The vote today in affirmation of traditional marriage represents the will of the international United Methodist Church. Those who demand acceptance of homosexual behavior maximized their campaign this year knowing it was their last chance to win in United Methodism.”
He also commented on the role of the international delegates at the Conference. "The African and other over-seas delegates represented the margin of victory for the current church stance on marriage and sex. This year they comprised almost 30 percent of the total delegates thanks to their church growth and membership decline in the U.S. The internationals may comprise 40 percent in 2012.”
"Africans and other international United Methodists in coalition with Evangelicals in the U.S. are working for a new denomination faithful to historic Christian teaching, and (one that is) culturally transformative instead of culturally accommodating," Tooley said.
The convention also tackled other issues related to sexuality, such as upholding the church's policy that prohibits United Methodist ministers from conducting ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions and rebuffing attempts to adopt language that would include "committed unions" in a section describing the sanctity of the marriage covenant.