List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality

This is a list of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality. The issue of homosexuality and Christianity is a subject of on-going theological debate within and between Christian denominations and this list seeks to summarise the various official positions. It should be noted that within these denominations many members may hold somewhat differing views on and even differing definitions of homosexuality. The list is in alphabetical order and includes denominations self-identified as Christian, which may not be so recognized by the other denominations.

Overview

The following table illustrates how each denomination deals with members who are currently in a homosexual relationship. See also: Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches.

Denomination Allows as members Ordains Blesses unions Marries
Adventist url = www.adventist.org/beliefs/church_manual/index.html| title = Seventh Day Adventist Church Manual|publisher = Secretariat General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists |accessdate = 2007-12-29 | year = 2005 | pages = 195 | edition = 17th edition| isbn = 0-8280-1947-9}} No No No
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church/African Methodist Episcopal Church Varies No No No
Anglican date=February 2007}} Varies Varies No
Baptist Varies No No No
Canadian and American Reformed Churches Yes No No No
Christian Reformed Yes No No No
Churches of Christ Yes (if they remain celibate) No No No
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormons") May be excommunicated No No No
Church of the Nazarene Yes No No No
Eastern Orthodox Yes No No No
Lutheran Yes Many LWF=Yes, ELCA, some other LWF. & Others (ILC, CELC, etc) =No LWF=Varies, ELCA, Others (ILC, CELC, etc) =No No
Mennonite Varies Varies Varies No
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Metropolitan Community Church Yes Yes Yes Yes
Moravian Church Yes Moratorium on debate Moratorium on debate Moratorium on debate
New Apostolic Yes No No No
Old Order Amish No No No No
Pentecostal No No No No
Presbyterian date=September 2007}} No PCUSA=Yes, Church of Scotland=Undecided (sent down to Presbyteries under Barrier Act), PRC, PCA, OPC=No No
United Reformed Church Yes No national policy; a matter for prayerful consideration This is a decision for local Church meetings No (Not currently legal in the UK)
Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) Yes Varies Varies by meeting Varies by meeting
Roman Catholic Church Yes (but may possibly be denied sacraments since it varies) No (celibate gay men also not to be ordained) No No
Old Catholic Yes Yes Yes (Europe) in Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland No
Swedenborgian Yes New Church=No; Swedenborgian Church=Yes New Church=No; Swedenborgian Church=Minister's discretion New Church=No; Swedenborgian Church=Minister's discretion
Unification Church Yes No No No
Unitarian Universalist Yes Yes Yes Yes
United Church of Canada Yes Yes, congregation may decline to call Not applicable yes, but only with approval of local session
United Church of Christ Yes Varies by Association Varies by congregation Varies by congregation
Uniting Church in Australia Yes Yes, Presbytery's discretion ? No
Waldensian Yes Yes Varies by meeting No

Adventism

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is opposed to same-gender sexual practices and relationships on the grounds that "sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman." It believes the Bible consistently affirms the pattern of heteromonogamy, and all sexual relations outside the scope of spousal intimacy are contrary to God's original plan.

Anglicanism

The Anglican Communion has been divided over the issue of homosexuality. The Church of England, the mother church of the Communion, currently maintains (according to the statement Issues in Human Sexuality) that same-sex partnerships are acceptable for laypersons but gay clergy are expected to be abstinent. The Lambeth Conference of 1998 called homosexuality "incompatible with Scripture" but this remains a purely advisory guideline as there are no communion-wide legislative bodies in the Anglican Church.

Baptists

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest of the Baptist denominations and the largest Protestant group in the U.S., considers same-gender sexual behavior to be sinful, stating clearly "We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy - one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ." Their behavior toward gays and lesbians is one of "love the sinner, hate the sin" (i.e., they should not show hatred toward the person, but should condemn his/her behavior).

Other conservative Baptist denominations and Independent Baptist churches are also generally opposed to homosexuality, along the same lines as the SBC. They, too, generally adopt the "love the sinner, hate the sin" approach.

Churches such as the Westboro Baptist Church, known for their open hatred toward both the homosexual person and the behavior, as well as their view that homosexuality constitutes the "unpardonable sin," are rare in Baptist circles, and are in fact often condemned by other Baptists who would otherwise agree that homosexuality is a sin. This also includes Hephzibah Baptist Church, led by Rev. William Sanderson.

However, there are a number of Baptist churches, particularly in the American Baptist Churches in the USA and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, that have more inclusive views. The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, a group of some 50 churches and organizations, is committed to the "full inclusion" of gay and lesbian persons in their churches. This "full inclusion" may or may not include approbation of same-sex sexual conduct.

Canadian and American Reformed Churches

The Canadian and American Reformed Churches cite Biblical sources from Leviticus 20:13, which reads: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable." NIV

A homosexual member of one of these churches will be placed under censure or excommunicated and can only be received again into the communion of saints and be admitted to the Lord's Supper in these Reformed traditions after he/she has declared repentance from his/her homosexuality, which the churches teach is a sin. After repentance, the person is declared forgiven by the church.

Christian Reformed Church in North America

The Christian Reformed Church has maintained the stance since the 1970s that homosexuality is the direct result of a sinful world much like any other sin. Homosexuality should be discouraged and the Church should show compassion for homosexuals like they would for any other sinner. Further, the Church should do everything in its power to help homosexuals see "the error of their ways" and to help repair the brokeness of sin.

However, gays and lesbians should not be denied any right granted to heterosexuals. They have the right to maintain office and be an active member in a congregation as their gifts can still be used to glorify God. The view is generally derived from the compassion Jesus showed for the sinners of his day (prostitutes and other notable sinners). As such, any homosexual who repents the sin of homosexuality is entirely forgiven.

Although the First Christian Reformed Church of Toronto (also the first CRC congregation to call a woman minister) voted to allow gays and lesbians in committed partnerships as elders and deacons, this decision was later rescinded in the face of pressure from the Toronto classis Reformed Church.

Churches of Christ

The Churches of Christ believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, and being actively gay is considered a serious sin. Many believe this is a struggle just as lust, lying, etc are temptations but are only sinful if the person gives into that temptation. They allow LGBT members, so long as they remain celibate.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes clear that same-gender attraction is not sinful and no one should blamed for it, but that a few people have been able to overcome it. However, it considers homoerotic thoughts, feelings and behaviors to be a problem that everyone can and should overcome. Homosexual activity is considered a serious sin on par or greater than other sexual activity outside of a legal, heterosexual marriage. They have encouraged their members to reach out to homosexuals with love and understanding, which has sparked criticism and protests from more conservative churches. In 2007, they produced God Loveth His Children, a pamphlet aimed at helping LGB members.

Eastern Orthodoxy

The Eastern Orthodox Church holds the opinion that sexuality, as we understand it, is part of the fallen world only. In Orthodox Theology both monasticism and marriage are paths to Salvation ("sotiria" in Greek, literally meaning "becoming whole"). Celibacy is the ideal path for monasticism while marriage is blessed under the context of true love ("Man must love his wife as Jesus loved his Church": this phrase is part of the Orthodox Marriage Ritual). This context can be interpreted by the non-Orthodox as not being exclusive of homosexuality, whereas it is seen as exclusive of homosexuality by the vast majority of the Orthodox. Traditionally the church has adopted a non-legalistic view of sin (see above), in which homosexuality is a sin. Some members of the church have assumed an active role in encouraging negative social stereotypes against gay individuals who do not repent and several prominent members of the clergy have made statements condemning homosexuality. The leader of the Church of Greece, archbishop Christodoulos of Athens has described being gay as a "handicap."

All jurisdictions, such as the Orthodox Church in America, have taken the approach of welcoming people with "homosexual feelings and emotions," while encouraging them to work towards "overcoming its harmful effects in their lives," while not allowing the sacraments to people who seek to justify homosexuality.

LGBT activism within Orthodox churches has been much less widespread than in Catholicism and many Protestant denominations. In 1980 the group Axios was founded in Los Angeles to advocate for sexual minorities in the Orthodox church, and has since started several other chapters in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Lutheranism

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran church body in the United States, has a current policy which states that persons who are gay or lesbian in their self-understanding are allowed to be ordained, but must maintain a lifestyle of celibacy. However, it is currently evaluating this policy, with the next debate scheduled for 2009. During the national meeting in 2005, delegates voted against a measure that would have allowed non-celibate gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions by 503 against to 490 in favor.

Outside of ordination, policy states that LGBT individuals are welcome and encouraged to become members and participate in the life of the congregation. The ELCA does not have a policy against same-sex unions, nor does it have a rite for blessing those unions, but leaves the question up to pastoral care. ELCA congregations that specifically embrace GLBT persons are called Reconciling in Christ congregations. The group Lutherans Concerned supports the inclusion of LGBT members in Lutheran churches in the ELCA and ELCIC. All other Lutheran churches in the United States oppose ordination and marriage of homosexuals.

In 2006, Lionel Ketola became the first person in a same-sex marriage to be appointed vicar (intern) of an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada congregation. This occurred at in Newmarket, Ontario. Later that year, the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC voted to allow a "local option" for blessing same-sex unions. The national church, which had previously rejected such a proposal, proceeded to assert that it alone had the authority to make such a decision. The National Church Council agreed in a September ruling, but promised to bring forward another motion authorising the local option for approval at the 2007 National Convention.

Most Lutheran state churches in Germany, Lutheranism's country of origin, are also liberal, viewing homosexuality as moral and allow gay and lesbian clergy. But the Lutheran churches in Germany are also divided on the issue of blessing same-sex unions. In general, very few churches in the more rural parishes (Baden, Saxonia, Hesse-Waldeck) are in favor of blessing same-sex unions while the urban churches do allow them (Hanover, Rhineland, Westfalia, Brunswick, Oldenburg, Berlin-Brandenburg, Bremen, Northelbia...). Nevertheless, all the state churches agree that gay and lesbian individuals are welcome as members, and that any kind of persecution is unacceptable.

The Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Scandinavia, also members of the Lutheran World Federation, are also liberal in their position on homosexuality and view homosexuality as moral. In Sweden (Church of Sweden) the Lutheran church allowed 2006 blessings of same-sex unions and permit gay clergy. A notable bishop is the KG Hammar, former Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden, has been very vocal in supporting gay and lesbian Lutherans. The Church of Norway is divided, with 6 of 11 bishops accepting homosexual practice as moral, even though the church officially rejects it.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is divided on issue, but many of its most well known bishops have expressed their acceptance for homosexuality. Also some theologians related to church have supported gay-marriages.

The smaller and more conservative denominations of the International Lutheran Council and Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference do not sanction same-sex partnerships among the clergy or laity.

Mennonite Churches

Mennonite churches vary in terms of acceptance of homosexuals. While some are very progressive, others, most notably the Old Order Amish, consider homosexuality very sinful.

Methodism

Methodist Church of Great Britain

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has not taken a definitive stance on homosexuality, although affirms the traditional belief that individuals should remain chaste outside marriage. In 2006, the Church also prohibited the blessing of same sex unions on or off church property.

The United Methodist Church

One source of considerable controversy within the United Methodist Church is its official positions on homosexuality. Since 1972, the Book of Discipline has declared "homosexual practice" to be "incompatible with Christian teaching." Following the 1972 incompatibility clause other restrictions have been added at subsequent General Conferences. Currently the Book of Discipline prohibits the ordination of "practicing, self-avowed homosexuals," forbids clergy from blessing or presiding over same-sex unions, forbids the use of UMC facilities for same-sex union ceremonies and prohibits the use of Church funds for "gay caucuses" or other groups that "promote the acceptance of homosexuality." An additional prohibition toward the full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons will be debated at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth. Following the 2005 decision of the Judicial Council to uphold a pastor's right to deny membership to a man solely based on his sexual orientation (despite the silence of the Book of Discipline on the matter) the denomination expects a host of petitions surrounding the eligibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons for membership.

Despite this language, not all members of the Church are of one mind on this issue. Preceding the incompatibility clause the Book of Discipline clearly states that "homosexual persons, no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth." Some believe that this "sacred worth" clause stands in contradiction to the following statement regarding the incompatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching. The Book of Discipline affirms that all persons, both heterosexual and homosexual, are included in the ministry of the church and can receive the gift of God's grace. While the Book of Discipline supports the civil rights of homosexual persons and rejects the abuse of homosexuals by families and churches, it also calls for laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Failed efforts have been made to pass resolutions to "fully include gay. lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the life of the Church" at General Conferences since the introduction of the incompatibility clause in 1972; delegates from annual conferences in the Northeast and on the West Coast typically vote to do so, but are outnumbered by those from Southeast.

Some of these issues have come before the Judicial Council. On October 31, 2005, the Council undertook two controversial measures on this topic. First, the Council upheld the revocation of Elizabeth Stroud's clergy status for disclosing she is openly lesbian. The council also rendered a decision allowing a Virginia pastor to deny church membership to a gay man. The latter decision was especially controversial, since it appeared to UMC LGBT proponents to contradict both the Constitution and membership policies of the United Methodist Church which stipulate that membership shall be open to all persons "without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition." The Judicial Council had previously found that the word "status" applies to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons (See Decision 1020). Decision 1032 created vigorous debate on the level of autonomy individual pastors and congregations have in interpreting and applying Church doctrine.

Metropolitan Community Church

The Metropolitan Community Church is an international fellowship of Christian congregations. It is considered by many to be a full mainline denomination or communion. There are currently 300 congregations in 22 countries, and the Fellowship has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Acceptance of homosexuality is an important part of its theology.

The Metropolitan Community Church was instrumental in the first legal challenges to the heterosexual legal definition of marriage in Ontario (see Same-sex marriage in Ontario). Two couples used an old legal procedure called reading the banns to marry without a licence. When same-sex marriage was legalized in Ontario, their marriages were recognized.

Moravian Church

The Moravian Church declared in 1974 that gays and lesbians were full members of the Christian community. In 2002, the Northern Provincial Synod placed a moratorium for the time being on further decisions about homosexuality. Currently, the questions of marriage and ordination are unresolved.

New Apostolic Church

From the statement: "Position of the New Apostolic Church on certain issues of sexual conduct." Section 4.4:

"On the grounds of Biblical tenets and Christian tradition, the New Apostolic Church deems practised homosexuality to be unacceptable."

"Brothers and sisters who are practising homosexuals, or living in a homosexual partnership, are barred from discharging ministerial and teaching duties in our Church."

Old Catholic Church

The Old Catholic Churches in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands view homosexuality as moral, permit gay and lesbian priests, and bless gay couples. These should not be confused with the Roman Catholic Church, or the Old Roman Catholic Church, which holds the identical position those in communion with the Holy See (see below).

Pentecostalism

Most churches that are within the Pentecostal Movement view homosexual behavior as a sin. The largest Pentecostal Church in the USA, the Assemblies of God, makes its view clear on homosexuality in a position paper stating "It should be noted at the outset that there is absolutely no affirmation of homosexual behavior found anywhere in Scripture. Rather, the consistent sexual ideal is chastity for those outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage and fidelity for those inside such a marriage. There is also abundant evidence that homosexual behavior, along with illicit heterosexual behavior, is immoral and comes under the judgement of God"

These churches therefor oppose same-sex unions, gay pastors, and would tend to forbid congregants who persist in homosexual practices. Politically, there are likely to support politicians with the same viewpoints. Most Pentecostal churches insist that those who engage in homosexual activity must be "delivered" from their sin.

Presbyterianism

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest U.S. Presbyterian body, is sharply divided over the issue of homosexuality. Although gay and lesbian persons are welcome to become members of the church, denominational policy prohibits non-celibate same-sex relations (as well as non-celibate heterosexual relations outside of marriage) for those serving as ministers or as elders on key church boards. After rancorous debate, that policy was upheld in a vote of presbyteries in 2002. The denomination's constitution defines marriage as "a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship" (W-4.9). The denomination is currently awaiting the release of a study on the "peace, unity, and purity" of the church before taking up the issue again. The Church does bless same-sex unions, but does not permit same-sex marriages, and does not explicitly support the consummation of these unions.

Other much smaller American Presbyterian bodies, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church,Position Statements and the Orthodox Presbyterian ChurchHumble Petition to President Clinton condemn same-sex sexual behavior as incompatible with Biblical morality, but believe gays and lesbians can repent and abandon the "lifestyle."

In New Zealand the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has debated homosexuality for many years. In 1985 its General Assembly declared "Homosexual acts are sinful." The most recent decision of the Assembly in 2004 declared "this church may not accept... anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman," but added the lemma, "In relation to homosexuality... this ruling shall not prejudice anyone, who as at the date of this meeting, has been accepted for training, licensed ordained of inducted."

Many Presbyterians in New Zealand are active in the Association for Reconciling Christians and Congregations, an ecumenical group that supports the full inclusion and participation of all people in the Church, including gay and lesbian persons.

In America, More Light Presbyterians, a coalition of gay-inclusive congregations, was founded in 1980. Today the organization has 113 member churches, while many more informally endorse its mission to more fully welcome people of all sexualities into the life of the church.

Quakerism

In the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, Friends are largely accepting of homosexuality.

In America, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is deeply divided on the issue. The more conservative Friends United Meeting and Friends Evangelical Church considers homosexuality sinful; but other Friends, such as those in the Friends General Conference, strongly support equal rights for gay and lesbian persons. It is dependent on the Friend that you ask. (It should be noted that those who call themselves "Conservative Friends" do not necessarily conform to the Friends United Meeting, the Friends Evangelical Church or the Friends General Conference, and so have mixed theological feelings to homosexuality)

Roman Catholic Church

General

The Roman Catholic Church considers human sexual behavior that it sees as properly expressed to be sacred, almost sacramental in nature. Sexual acts other than "unprotected" vaginal intercourse within a heterosexual marriage are considered sinful because in the Church's understanding, sexual acts, by their nature, are meant to be both unitive and procreative (mirroring God's inner Trinitarian life). The Church also understands the complementarity of the sexes to be part of God's plan. Same-gender sexual acts are incompatible with this framework:

"[H]omosexual acts are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."
These teachings are, of course, not limited to the issue of homosexuality, but is also the general background for the Catholic prohibitions against, for example, fornication, contraception, pornography, anal sex, oral sex, masturbation, and all other forms of non-coital sex.

Social justice

To be sure, the Church has clearly stated that homosexual desires or attractions themselves are not necessarily sinful. They are said to be "disordered" in the sense that they tempt one to do something that is sinful (i.e., the homosexual act), but temptations beyond one's control are not considered sinful in and of themselves. For this reason, while the Church does oppose same-gender sexual acts, it also officially urges respect and love for those who do experience same-sex attractions and isn't opposed to the homosexual orientation, thus the Catholic Church is also opposed to persecutions and violence against the LGBT community:

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
For those who do experience gay sexual attractions, the Catholic Church offers the following counsel:
"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."
It should be noted that the Church considers the call to chastity to be universal to all persons according to their state in life. However, only heterosexual Catholics have the option of expressing their chastity through married love but gays can still have their options of any non-marital and non-religious same-sex unions.

In 1997, the USCCB came out with a tract called always our children which some might find helpful. It articulates the most recent stance on homosexuality, especially as it relates to parents of homosexual children.

Homosexuality and priesthood

The Roman Catholic Church forbids the ordination of men who have "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," as it is expressed in a 2005 document, called Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders. Men with "transitory" same-sex feelings could be eligible for ordination after three years of having moved on from this stage of their life. Comments from various bishops suggest that interpretations of the subject of this ban vary from diocese to diocese, and some bishops still quietly ordain homosexuals as priests.

Swedenborgianism

The largest Swedenborgian denomination in North America, the General Church of the New Jerusalem does not ordain gay and lesbian ministers, but the oldest denomination, the Swedenborgian Church of North America, does. Ministers in Swedenborgian Church of North America are not allowed to determine whether or not they will marry same-sex couples. Ministers of the General Church of the New Jerusalem are not permitted to marry or bless any same-sex couples. The Lord's New Church Which Is Hierosolyma has no official doctrine on the debate of homosexuality. Personal opinions vary, but respecting others and not condemning anyone is an impornant facet of the Lord's New Church: "Human freedom is necessary if men are to be led in freedom according to reason by the Lord into the life in the Lord which is freedom itself." So the Church values the "expression of the thoughts and feelings of all in the Church provided they are not in opposition to the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church"

United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, affirms that gay and lesbian persons are welcome in the church and the ministry. The resolution "A) That all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, who profess Jesus Christ and obedience to Him, are welcome to be or become full member of the Church. B) All members of the Church are eligible to be considered for the Ordered Ministry." was passed in 1988. This was not done, however, without intense debate over what was termed "the issue"; some congregations chose to leave the church rather than support the resolution.

The church campaigned starting in 1977 to have the federal government add sexual orientation to federal non-discrimination laws, which was accomplished in 1996. The church has also engaged in activism in favour of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada.

United Church of Christ

The polity of the United Church of Christ (UCC) (considered to be in the tradition of Congregationalists) is such that the views of one setting of the church cannot be unwillingly 'forced' on the Local Church, whether between congregations or between the upper levels of the church and individual congregations. Thus, views on many controversial matters can and do vary among congregations. David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research who has studied the United Church of Christ, said surveys show the national church's pronouncements are often more liberal than the views in the pews but that its governing structure is set up to allow such disagreements.

The United Church of Christ General Synod in 1985 passed a resolution entitled "Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming" saying that "the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; encourages associations, Conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy; and encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith". General Synod XIV in 2003 officially added transgender persons to this declaration of full inclusion in the life and leadership of the Church.

In July 2005, the 25th General Synod encouraged congregations to affirm "equal marriage rights for all", and to consider "wedding policies that do not discriminate based on the gender of the couple." The resolution also encouraged congregations to support legislation permitting civil same-sex marriage rights. By the nature of United Church of Christ polity, General Synod resolutions officially speak "to, but not for" the other settings of the denomination (local congregations, associations, conferences, and the national offices). This Synod also expressed respect for those bodies within the church that disagree and called for all members "to engage in serious, respectful, and prayerful discussion of the covenantal relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender."

Some associations permit ordination of non-celibate gay clergy and some clergy and congregations are willing to perform or allow same-sex marriages or union services. Approximately 10% of UCC congregations have adopted an official "open and affirming" statement welcoming gay and lesbian persons in all aspects of church life. A few congregations explicitly oppose the General Synod Equal Marriage Rights resolution - an independent movement called "Faithful and Welcoming Churches(FWC)" that partly defines faithful as "Faithful... to the preservation of the family, and to the practice and proclamation of human sexuality as God's gift for marriage between a man and a woman." Many congregations have no official stance; these congregations' de facto stances vary widely in their degree of toward gay and lesbian persons.

The United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns is one of the officially recognized "Historically Underrepresented Groups" in the United Church of Christ, and as such has a dedicated seat on the United Church of Christ Executive Council and a number of other boards. The Biblical Witness Fellowship, a notable conservative renewal organization within the UCC, formed in the 1970s in response to general synods opinions on the sexuality issue and has argued that there "has been a deliberate and forceful attempt within the mainline church to overthrow Biblical revelation [about] ... what it means to be human particularly in the Biblical revelation of a humanity reflective of God and sexually created for [heterosexual] marriage and family."

Uniting Church in Australia

The Uniting Church in Australia allows for the membership and ordination of gay and lesbian people. On July 17 2003 it clarified its 1982 position when the national Assembly meeting stated that people had interpreted the scriptures with integrity in coming to the view that a partnered gay or lesbian person in a committed same sex relationship could be ordained as a minister. It also stated that people who had come to the opposite view had also interpreted the scriptures with integrity. When Presbyteries (regional councils) select candidates for ministry they may use either of these positions, however they cannot formally adopt either position as policy, but must take each person on a case by case basis. By explicitly stating the two positions, this decision fleshes out a 1982 Assembly Standing Committee decision which did not ban people with a homosexual orientation from membership. After emotional debate, the 1997 Assembly did not reach a decision, and the 2000 Assembly decided not to discuss homosexuality.

United Reformed Church

The United Reformed Church of Great Britain has committed itself to continue to explore differences of view among its members, in the light of the Church's understanding of scripture and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A detailed report was submitted to the 2007 General Assembly

See also

External links

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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