For 40 years the United Methodist Church has supported the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision – that is, until last week.
Delegates of the country’s third-largest religious body voted 445 to 310 to repeal the official resolution supporting the case establishing a constitutional “right” to abortion during its General Conference. They also voted to sever its affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), an interfaith organization co-founded by the United Methodist Church.
The RCRC advocates for abortion without restrictions – the legal killing of any pre-born child for any reason at any point during pregnancy. The group even supports partial-birth and sex-selection abortion, and promotes rituals to bless the work of abortion clinics.
You can begin to see why it’s big news for the UMC to take two big leaps towards a complete pro-life position. Pregnant, abortion-minded women within the Methodist denomination may now reconsider their decision.
But beyond that, it’s also important for the sake of the Gospel that the United Methodist Church moves to a position that’s more faithful to Biblical truth regarding the sanctity of human life.
While Evangelicals celebrate these life-affirming decisions by the United Methodist Church, I want to reflect on three takeaways from the news.
1. The American Church should be humbled.
For far too long the U.S. has exported abortion through groups like Planned Parenthood. Our nation is even more pro-abortion than many “progressive” European countries. Sadly, much of that support comes from members of and leaders of mainline Protestant churches.
That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that the UMC’s 5 million predominately theologically conservative African members are largely responsible for this development. It is their efforts that help explain why the denomination “has resisted liberalizing its teachings on marriage and has moved more conservative on abortion,” writes Mark Tooley, a Methodist who serves as the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
As an American Christian, I’m humbled by the example of my African brothers and sisters – and I’m grateful for them.
2. The UMC’s votes should give us hope.
As many mainline Protestant denominations continue to grapple with issues concerning life and marriage, the move by the United Methodists serves as a reminder for us to continue praying for them.
Not all is “lost” – there is often a remnant and a reason for hope. Therefore, when we read that other groups are wrestling through Scriptural teaching on the life issue and sexuality, let’s take a moment to ask for God’s mercy and supernatural guidance.
3. We should be encouraged to stand firm.
Lest we believe everyone’s mind is made up on important social issues, this is a good reminder that the Holy Spirit can still transform hearts on abortion.
According to Tooley, while “overseas delegates” helped secure and pad the votes on the pro-life position, also important “are evolving attitudes on abortion among religious moderates and some liberals. Defending RCRC and its zealous unqualified affirmation of abortion was unpalatable for many especially younger clergy.”
More than ever, we should heed the exhortation of Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
What do you think about the news coming out of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference? If you’re a member of the Methodist Church, what have you been hearing from those within your sphere of influence? Please let me know in the comments section below.