Institute on Religion and Democracy
UMAction IS ASKING PEOPLE TO SUBMIT THESE RESOLUTIONS TO NEXT YEAR'S ANNUAL CONFERENCES
December 05, 2000
Whereas, national Christian leaders, including officers of the U.S. Catholic Conference, the National Association of Evangelicals and the Southern Baptist Convention have endorsed the following ďChristian Declaration on Marriage:Ē
ďAs we celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, entering the third millennium, we pledge together to honor the Lord by committing ourselves afresh to Godís first institution - marriage.
We believe that marriage is a holy union of one man and one woman in which they commit, with Godís help, to build a loving, life-giving, faithful relationship that will last for a lifetime. God has established the married state, in the order of creation and redemption, for spouses to grow in love of one another and for the procreation, nurture, formation, and education of children.
We believe that in marriage many principles of the Kingdom of God are manifested. The interdependence of healthy Christian community is clearly exemplified in loving one another (John 13:34), forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32), confessing to one another (James 5:16), and submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21). These principles find unique fulfillment in marriage. Marriage is Godís gift, a living image of the union between Christ and His Church.
We believe that when a marriage is true to Godís loving design it brings spiritual, physical, emotional, economic, and social benefits not only to a couple and family but also to the Church and to the wider culture. Couples, churches, and the whole of society have a stake in the well being of marriages. Each, therefore, has its own obligations to prepare, strengthen, support and restore marriages.
Our nation is threatened by a high divorce rate, a rise in cohabitation, a rise in non-marital births, a decline in the marriage rate, and a diminishing interest in and readiness for marrying, especially among young people. The documented adverse impact of these trends on children, adults, and society is alarming. Therefore, as church leaders, we recognize an unprecedented need and responsibility to help couples begin, build, and sustain better marriages, and to restore those threatened by divorce.
Motivated by our common desire that Godís Kingdom be manifested on earth as it is in heaven, we pledge to deepen our commitment to marriage. With three quarters of marriages performed by clergy, churches are uniquely positioned not only to call America to a stronger commitment to this holy union but to provide practical ministries and influence for reversing the course of our culture. It is evident in cities across the nation that where churches join in common commitment to restore a priority on marriage, divorces are reduced and communities are positively influenced.
Therefore, we call on churches throughout America to do their part to strengthen marriage in our nation by providing:
Prayer and spiritual support for stronger marriages Encouragement for people to marry Education for young people about the meaning and responsibility of marriage Preparation for those engaged to be married Pastoral care, including qualified mentor couples, for couples at all stages of their relationship Help for couples experiencing marital difficulty and disruption Influence within society and the culture to uphold the institution of marriage
Further, we urge churches in every community to join in developing policies and programs with concrete goals to reduce the divorce rate and increase the marriage rate.
By our commitment to marriage as instituted by God, the nature of His Kingdom will be more clearly revealed in our homes, our churches, and our culture. To that end we pray and labor with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
May the grace of God, the presence of Christ, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit be abundant in all those who so commit and be a blessing to all whose marriages we seek to strengthen.Ē
Therefore be it resolved that we endorse the ďChristian Declaration on Marriage.Ē
Whereas, the persecution of people of religious faith is the great untold human rights story of the last decade; and
Whereas, millions of religious believers around the world, including Christians, have suffered confiscation of property, abduction, enslavement, imprisonment, forced mass relocation, rape, forced conversion to another faith, torture and murder; and
Whereas, over l.5 million Christians, Muslims and indigenous believers in Sudan have been killed by a war conducted by a Sudanese government attempting to impose Islamic law; millions of house church Christians in China are forced to worship in secret to keep their faith independent of government control; Christians in Pakistan and Egypt are terrorized by violent mobs and often undefended by government authorities; Buddhists in Tibetan have their religious leaders imprisoned, and tortured and beaten, among many other examples around the world, and
Whereas, Christians are commanded to pray and advocate on behalf of the persecuted and the vulnerable, especially for those who suffer on behalf of Jesus Christ, knowing that if one part of the Body of Christ suffers, every part suffers with it (1 Corinthians 12:24-26); therefore
Be it resolved that we call upon all our churches to pray for those enduring persecution, to participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, to inform their congregations about the plight of persecuted religious believers; to evaluate church-owned stock portfolios to avoid investments supporting governments that conduct religious persecution, to challenge the media to give more attention to the issue of religious persecution; and to urge public officials to develop policies that will promote full religious freedom around the world.
Whereas, United Methodists have historically believed in cooperation with other Christian denominations and bodies; and
Whereas, in recent decades The United Methodist Church has extensively cooperated with generously funded the National and World Councils of Churches; and
Whereas, the 2000 General Conference of The United Methodist Church voted to seek observer status with the National Association of Evangelicals and the World Evangelical Fellowship; and
Whereas, the United Methodist General Commission on Christian Unity at its Fall 2000 meeting voted to reduce United Methodist support for the National Council of Churches from 40 percent of total denominational giving to no more than 25 percent; and
Whereas, the growing areas of Christianity are largely found among denominations and church movements that have no affiliation with either the National or World Councils of Churches; therefore
Be it resolved that we support and commend expanding cooperation with Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and other Christians who are not affiliated with the National or World Councils of Churches, stressing that our unity is based upon Jesus Christ as revealed through Scripture and the ancient ecumenical creeds that define the essentials of our common faith.
Whereas, recent years have seen dramatic change in our nationís welfare system, with increased responsibility moving from the federal government to state and local governments; and
Whereas, there is increased awareness that traditional anti-poverty programs have often failed, often perpetuating rather than alleviating poverty, and
Whereas, welfare reform has made some progress in ending welfare dependency and moving recipients into the work force; and
Whereas, poverty still remains a problem in this country, a problem to which father absence, non-marital births, increasing divorce rates, alcohol and drug dependency, prejudice, insufficient job training, economic transition and failing schools, among other social pathologies, contribute; and
Whereas, there is increasingly social awareness that systemic change alone will not defeat poverty, but that spiritual renewal must play a part, with increased emphasis on faith-based programs; and
Whereas, the spiritual descendants of John Wesley are uniquely equipped to confront poverty as a spiritual problem; therefore
Be it resolved that we call upon our churches to redouble their efforts on behalf of the poor, integrating these programs with an evangelistic emphasis that clearly makes Jesus Christ their central focus; and we support partnerships between government programs and church ministries that allow those ministries to assume their fair share of responsibility for anti-poverty efforts without compromising their spiritual mission.
Whereas, the 2000 General Conference of The United Methodist Church declared our denominationís opposition to partial-birth abortion, which is a particularly gruesome late-term abortion procedure that the American Medical Association has declared is never necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother; and
Whereas, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, based in Washington, D.C., and the United Methodist Womenís Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, based in New York City, are both members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), which opposes any restrictions on partial-birth abortion; and
Whereas, the stance of RCRC in defense of partial-birth abortion is clearly at odds with the position of The United Methodist Church; therefore
Be it resolved that we urge these church agencies, in compliance with the teachings of The United Methodist Church, to withdraw from RCRC; we further request these agencies to support and develop programs that emphasize adoption, ministries for women facing crisis pregnancies, and counseling for women struggling with post-abortion trauma; and we also call upon our churches to support women in crisis pregnancies who seek alternatives to abortion.