Preaching and teaching on biblical marriage is still welcome within the Methodist Church of Britain, a leading proponent of same-sex marriage within the denomination has said.
Sam McBratney, Chairman of the pro-LGBT lobby group Dignity and Worth, confirmed the freedom to preach faithfully would continue during a briefing hosted by the Religion Media Centre.
Last week, at the Church’s annual Conference, representatives voted to redefine marriage, conduct same-sex weddings and affirm cohabitation.
Freedom of conscience
Whilst the Conference resolution on marriage contained a freedom of conscience clause allowing ministers to opt out of performing or endorsing same-sex ceremonies, uncertainty remained over wider conscience protections.
When asked during the briefing if lay or ordained Methodists would be free to preach in support of biblical marriage and against same-sex marriage, McBratney’s response was emphatic: “The answer is yes, you are free to do that”.
The Chairman of Methodist Evangelicals Together, Revd Dr David Hull, gave a cautious welcome to the clarification.
He told The Christian Institute: “It is reassuring to hear it is understood that those who continue to hold to the teaching of the Bible will be free to preach that marriage is, has been, and always will be only between one man and woman and that the Methodist Church was wrong to endorse same-sex marriage.”
‘Time will tell’
But Revd Dr Hull went on to say that some evangelicals within the Methodist Church were already reporting opposition to faithful biblical proclamation and teaching on sexual ethics. He added: “Only time will tell if this commitment will be worked out in practice.”
The Methodist Church in Ireland, which is governed separately, has announced that it will continue to affirm marriage as “between one man and one woman” for life.