In the wake of the District of Columbia opening its marriage license office to gays, a United Methodist church has declared that it prefers Caesar to God, or at least to the denomination’s Book of Discipline, according to a press release found at the Religion News Service:
The pastor and 12 other ordained clergy who attend Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown said they would conduct such ceremonies after Congress failed to override D.C.’s new law on March 3. The larger United Methodist Church does not permit same-sex weddings, and no other Methodist congregation in Washington has taken the same step.
“As a pastor, I am called to extend care and grace to all people even as Jesus did,” said Rev. Mary Kay Totty, pastor at the 238-year-old church. “We celebrate love and loyalty wherever it is found.”
Dumbarton’s Church Council, in a 28 to 0 vote February 10, pledged “to honor and celebrate the wedding of any couple, licensed in the District of Columbia, who seek to commit their lives to one another in marriage.”
Totty said the church is aware the clergy are at risk by performing same-sex weddings in a denomination that does not sanction them. “However,” she said, “marriage equality is about justice and civil rights. The District of Columbia acknowledges that it is wrong to discriminate against people based upon sexual orientation.”
So here’s a test of the strength of United Methodist church discipline: as soon as Totty or one of her fellow pastors performs a same-sex wedding, he or she should be brought up on charges. Then we’ll see if United Methodists are as feckless in enforcing their denomination’s stands as Presbyterians. I’m guessing the answer will be no, which is to say that the officiant at such a ceremony will be found guilty (what punishment would follow I couldn’t say) without all the nonsense about whether such a wedding is actually possible.