First United Methodist Church of Austin, Texas, recently announced they will no longer perform weddings until their denomination allows them to “marry” same-sex couples.1 They claim this decision, reached after a vote of “yes” by 93% of the voting church population, is an attempt to “treat weddings of opposite-sex and same-sex couples equally” without violating the Book of Discipline, which governs this denomination. The Book of Discipline currently says United Methodist Churches support “laws in civil society that define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.”
The senior pastor of this Texas church, Taylor Fuerst, says,
Rather than practicing discrimination in our wedding policy, we are going to give up some of the privileges that our opposite-sex couples enjoy and say, ‘We all receive the same ministry in terms of weddings.’ . . . As a church we are in covenant together, and we all seek to follow Jesus who set the example of loving sacrifice. . . . Our congregation voted overwhelmingly to stand not for issues or principles, but for people.
This move came after a church committee was tasked with finding a way to “address the conflict between the Book of Discipline’s statement on marriage and the congregation’s ‘commitment to full inclusion of all people in the life and ministry of this church.’”
Standing for People or Standing Against Truth?
The pastor of this church claims her congregation has chosen “to stand not for issues or principles, but for people.” But what they’ve really chosen is to stand against the Word of God. They are placing themselves in direct opposition to God and his Word by condoning and celebrating sinful behavior. And the Prophet Isaiah has a warning for them:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
Advocating for sin and trying to help people live a life of sin isn’t standing for people—it’s standing against them. Sin always leads to brokenness and pain; repentance and the gospel lead to freedom and new life.
(See “Can the Church Embrace Homosexual Behavior in the Name of Love?” for more information).
Who Defines “Wrong”?
Pastor Fuerst also reportedly said that “she feels that telling LGBT individuals that they were a sin was morally wrong. She called for solidarity among people of faith and advocated for allowing everyone to get married, saying God wants to take part in same-sex couples’ weddings.”2
Why does Pastor Fuerst get to define what is “morally wrong”? As the Judge, God gets to determine what is right and wrong, not any church leader or professing Christian. This pastor has set herself up as the authority over God and his Word—and that is a dangerous place to be!
The Bible makes it clear that homosexual behavior is a sin and that approving of sin is itself a sin.
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.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:26–32)
Pastor Fuerst should stop defining right and wrong on her own terms and get back to God’s Word to see what it says. After all, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Our own opinions and cultural views are not God-breathed nor are they given authority in Scripture.
Why Stop at Same-Sex Couples?
Will First United Methodist Church of Austin also refuse to hold any weddings until polygamous or polyamorous couples can marry? Where do they draw the line? If they’ve reinterpreted marriage to include same-sex couples, why not add any and every union? Since they’ve thrown out God’s Word as the standard and definition of marriage, they no longer have a standard to define what marriage is or isn’t, except their own arbitrary opinions.
A God in Their Own Image
Increasingly churches are forsaking biblical truth and sacrificing the perspicuity, inerrancy, and truth of Scripture on the altar of cultural correctness and modern thinking. Instead of trusting in God’s infallible Word as the source of truth, they are relying on their own wisdom and the sinful thinking of a rebellious world to redefine truth. They are creating a god in their own image—a god who doesn’t call sin what it is, who would attend a ceremony that rejects his created order, and who is all “love” (by their definition of love) with no justice or standards.
Standing Boldly for Truth and Love
Thankfully, there are still many church leaders who stand on the authority of God’s Word on this important issue of marriage and human sexuality. Many of these leaders came together in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2017 to draft and sign the Nashville Statement.
This statement graciously reaffirmed a biblical definition of marriage and sexuality, and pointed to the hope of the gospel for all people, including those who practice homosexuality or transgenderism. Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter, signed this important document, showing his willingness to publicly stand for the truth of God’s Word and its authority over our faith and practice.
We need more churches and believers who will publicly (but lovingly) stand for the truth of God’s Word. We don’t do this because we think we’re better than others or because we want to impose our morality on them. We do this because our culture is lost in the dark, loving their sinfulness and not realizing they are slaves to it. This should break our hearts, especially considering that we are all sinners, but that they are still in rebellion against our Creator as we once were! How can we not want to show them their need of a Savior and how they can be reconciled to Christ?
As believers, we must be salt and light, graciously leading people to the gospel of Jesus, freedom from sin, and the new life Christ offers.