Talking of Marriage and Relationships – overview 2018
Please note - this is an archive of material written after the 2018 Conference. Please see Marriage and Relationships 2019 for the latest information.
Within the Church, people have many views about human relationships and the nature and purpose of marriage. There are fundamental issues in relation to human relationships in the modern world in the life of the church which may or may not lead the Methodist Church to reconsider its understanding of relationships and definition of marriage. These issues include the fact that a major change to the law in 2014 enabled the introduction of same-sex civil marriage, and gave churches and other religious groups the legal ability to opt-in to conduct weddings for same-sex partners if they so wished. But same-sex marriage is not the only consideration.
The Conference in 2014 and subsequently has therefore urged the Methodist people to engage with each other honestly, prayerfully and graciously in a process of deep reflection and discernment about matters relating to marriage and human relationships.
This page contains links to resources that will be useful in discussions across the Connexion on Marriage and Relationships. This page will continue to be developed. There is also a page with answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Marriage and Relationships.
Resources recommended by the Marriage and Relationships Task Group
Gracious and respectful conferring
Our discussions should be in accordance with Methodist understanding of scriptural interpretation and reflection. Methodists traditionally use a fourfold approach to learn about our Christian faith and apply it to contemporary issues and to our Christian practice: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. See the Methodist quadrilateral
Importantly, Clause 4 of the Deed of Union states:
“The doctrines of the evangelical faith which Methodism has held from the beginning and still holds are based upon the divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Methodist Church acknowledges this revelation as the supreme rule of faith and practice.”
The following may be of help in discussion of the authority of the scriptures:
- A Lamp to my Feet and Light to my Path: The Nature of Authority and the place of the Bible in the Methodist Church (study guide)
The following deal with how we live with each other when we hold contradictory convictions about fundamental matters, and how we express them to each other:
- Living with Contradictory Convictions (conference report)
- Living with Contradictory Convictions (study guide)
- Challenging conversations: living with contradictory convictions (Pdf) You may also find the content in this previously published ROOTS resource useful. However, this material makes reference to the discussion of marriage and relationships as it was framed in 2015/2016 and must be adapted appropriately for use today, to reflect how the discussion has moved on since then.
Showing respect in our discussions
The Marriage and Relationships Task Group has also prepared a model statement to support conversations where there are differing convictions.
The Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee has produced a Definition and Guidance on Homophobia (pdf)
The EDI Toolkit also contains important material Of particular relevance are
- Module 7.1 : Sexual Orientation (Pdf)
- Module 7.2 : Welcoming Same Sex Couples and their Families (Pdf)
The history of marriage in Methodism
The following extract is reproduced with permission from Revd David M. Chapman, and may be used within the Methodist Church subject to the following acknowledgement: "by David M. Chapman, from his book Born in Song: Methodist Worship in Britain (Church in the Market Place Publications, 2006), Chapter 8 'The Solemnisation of Christian Marriage', pp. 197-217"
The following timeline shows some of the points in Methodist history where matters of marriage and relationships have been considered. It includes highlights from the chapter (above) and information from Conference reports.
- History of Marriage Timeline (A3 size pdf)