This is an update to a blog many of you read on the support of the United Methodist Church for abortion rights. In my blog, I detailed the longstanding connection with the despicable Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), an abortion group who uses the name of Jesus to justify its sin. At the UMC General Convention 2016, the UMC voted to leave the RCRC, and this is, indeed, worthy of cautiously optimistic celebration. But it’s not a reason to go sign a roll at a UMC church. Since this decision, many have asked me what my thoughts are. This short update is to express that and make it clear that we should not be celebrating a pro-life UMC denomination.
Leaving the RCRC is good. I will be curious to see what happens officially to the many UMC leaders who have been enmeshed with RCRC leadership, and I will be watching the RCRC closely. But make no mistake: The UMC has NOT stopped supporting the right to abortion.
The church voted to leave the RCRC; however, there was another opportunity they had that was rejected. At the 2016 General Conference, one of the bills that was on the table was 60698, a bill to make the language in the UMC Book of Discipline more pro-life.
First, a refresher on what the church’s guiding document says:
While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born.
This, my friends, is what the UMC believe about abortion–that we have the power of life and death.
The bill that was proposed would have strengthened the pro-life language of the Book of Discipline, though it did not fully make its case as 100% pro-life. The entire text of the proposed bill can be found here. The purpose of this bill is stated at the bottom of its proposed text:
The current wording of ¶ 161.J has been treated by some United Methodists as a means for one-sidedly advocating for public policies advancing elective abortion. These amendments to ¶ 161.J would more clearly align our church with biblical, historic Christian teaching that defends unborn children and their mothers from abortion.
As you can see here, the bill was not even considered, let alone heard and voted upon.
The delegates of the UMC would not even consider discussing changing their Book of Discipline as it relates to abortion.
I conclude this update with a statement I made in my original blog, which is a statement that I don’t need to change at all, even in light of the RCRC decision. The bottom line is that the UMC supports the rights of human beings to choose when we live or die, and that is at odds with the Word of God. There is no grey area. Here’s my original statement and citation from the Book of Discipline. It would behoove any sincere pro-life Christian reevaluate his or her involvement in a church that elevates man over God.
This ideology isn’t limited to one faction of the UMC. It is in their Book of Discipline, which is the guiding document for the denomination. In fact, their statement on abortion is fraught with a troubling lead (emphasis mine):
“The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.
“But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child”
In short, the UMC believes that we have the right to be god and decide who lives and dies. It’s a stunning statement that should elicit the fear of God in any believer. God, the very Creator of human life, has taken a back seat to the ideology that makes us creators and destroyers; we are little gods in this term of thinking. But our God will have no god before Him. He is not mocked.
Incidentally, the RCRC’s statement indicates that it expects many UMC leaders to remain with them because
The United Methodist Church General Conference does not make binding policy for Methodist congregations and individuals. We welcome Methodists who share our views to stand with us and to use our resources and programs to benefit their churches and communities. In doing so, they will join a broad range of other denominations speaking out for women’s reproductive freedom on religious grounds.
Meanwhile, the Methodist Federation for Social Action, remains a key part of RCRC and is mobilizing UMC members all over. The ties are officially cut, but not really gone. It is still not sufficient to say you want your money out of the RCRC related areas, however. Your money matters, but so does your heart. Do you want to be connected to a church that promotes, in its key guiding document, that it’s okay to take a baby’s life sometimes?