Right on the heels of the first response this morning, I received a reply from the pastor of one of the Methodist churches contacted (the same one I noted might be more LGBT-friendly). Its verdict: positive.
Thank you, S, for your note and for sharing the links regarding asexuality. Your question and the links are my first exposure to this orientation. In my years in professional ministry, I have not encountered anyone who identified themselves in these terms. As this orientation is relatively new on the public radar, The United Methodist Church has not addressed it specifically.
Well, at least he’s honest. But wait, it gets better:
The United Methodist Church and [name of specific church redacted] emphasize the dignity and worth of every human being, viewing all persons as created by God and claimed by God’s grace as beloved children of God. [Name redacted] embraces all, regardless of sexual orientation. At First Church, we do not refer to any sexual orientation in terms of sin. We proclaim the grace of God that is expressed in God’s accepting us unconditionally, freely forgiving us, joyfully embracing us as beloved children, and walking in relationship with us to guide us to wholeness/holiness.
Next he gets into the fact that this specific church is technically in disagreement with official/documented Methodist doctrine (in a good way).
For a fuller statement, I refer you to The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church – Social Principles: The Nurturing Community, paragraph 161. This section of the Social Principles includes statements regard the Family, Marriage, Single Persons, Women and Men, Human Sexuality. You can access The Book of Discipline on line through a search engine or by going to the CTCUMC.org website and clicking on The Book of Discipline.
In case y’all are curious, here’s a link to it.
In the section on Human Sexuality, you will find the statement: The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. This statement has been the focus of much debate for over 20+ years. Concerted efforts have been made to change it.
Taking a brief detour, I looked at this Human Sexuality passage and found this little gem:
"Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married" (p. 110, ed. from 2012)
All persons are sexual beings?
ALL PERSONS ARE SEXUAL BEINGS?
This is a denominational doctrine handbook, of all things. My God, it’s everywhere.
Okay, back to the nice pastor’s email:
Although a congregation of The United Methodist Church, [name redacted] operates out of a different perspective. We do not take a stand against homosexuality nor do we view it as a sin. We understand sexual orientation – whether heterosexual, homosexual (and, now, asexual) to be biologically based. We embrace all as beloved children of God regardless of sexual orientation or lifestyle.
I don’t like that bisexuality isn’t even on the radar for him, but given that he accepts gay and ace people both, I’m hopeful that he’d extend the same attitude to bi people too, and that he was just being forgetful rather than exclusionary. Perhaps that’s optimistic of me. Still, from what I’ve seen, people who accept gayness but not bisexuality wouldn’t be accepting of asexuality either.
For [name redacted], the grace of God is central to all that we do. We are committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We understand a disciple to be a follower of Jesus whose life is being transformed by God’s grace and who partners with God in sharing that grace in the world. Having been claimed by grace as God’s beloved children, we seek to grow in that grace and partner with God in sharing that grace in the world. All issues are secondary to God’s grace and to this discipleship process.
Unlike the UCC pastor, he didn’t comment specifically on celibacy or nonsexual marriages, but this paragraph gives me the sense that he’d be accepting/nonopinionated on the issue.
Feel free to continue this on-line conversation or call the church office [number redacted] to set up a time to visit in person.
[closing, name, and contact information]
So that’s score #2 for the LGBT-friendly churches. Unfortunately, that’s all the LGBT-friendly churches on the list, but maybe the next one will be just as positive.
More generally, while it may be too soon to tell if LGBT-friendliness is a reliable indicator of ace-friendliness, it appears that the Methodist denomination, as a whole, is both hostile to gayness and asexuality, but it’s still possible to find an individual Methodist church that goes against the grain (and, for future consideration, it could be useful to investigate a correlation among Methodist churches between ace-friendliness and status as “reconciling”).