While there is seems to be little standing in the way of the divorce juggernaut which ploughs through marriage in the UK, such that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce, I was saddened today when I was looking through the Methodist Church in Britain website. Searching that site with the single word “divorce” I came on an article “Marriage in the Methodist Church” which was prepared for the annual conference 2002. If you want to look at the full article it is here http://www.methodist.org.uk/downloads/conf-marriage-in-the-methodist-church-2002.pdf
but the salient paragraph that I would like to quote is
1. The Family and Personal Relationships Committee should urgently review current marriage preparation courses and advise Methodist churches accordingly. The committee should produce new resources as necessary, and offer training opportunities to ministers, deacons and lay people for their flexible, realistic and imaginative use.
I worship in a Methodist Church with over 30 churches in our local circuit. We are in a suburb of a small city, in a larger conurbation. We had the opportunity to host a one-day seminar run by Agape UK’s Family Life Division called “A Day to Treasure” and from the one church I attend, I had four couples interested. The circuit decided that there was insufficient demand for such a seminar. Two couples went to this seminar in Cambridge the previous year and were willing to go around the churches in the circuit to tell them how good this seminar was, but no, there was not the demand. I only know that in the year that followed that rejection there were two marriages where both spouses attended this church on a regular basis which broke down. I would have thought that the church treasurers would have said that it was worth underwriting the £1000 that it would cost simply to save one of those marriages and the giving that came from it.
But I suppose it is not surprising from a church that simply accepts the following “Although among evangelical participants there was strong support for Christian teachings on sexual matters as traditionally expressed, it is clear that these teachings have been and are being widely ignored among many younger Methodists. The practice of sexual intercourse and cohabitation outside marriage was regarded as widespread, sensible and right.”
The Methodist church was founded to be evangelical, indeed that was one of the reasons why the Wesleys were kicked out of the Church of England, it is structured to be evangelical, and yet it cannot see that what it offers is either a lie or worse. Have they never read Romans 1 vv 18 – 32. If someone who refuses to accept Jesus as Saviour behaves like this, then it is his or her choice. The church has no right to judge him or her. But we have a responsibility to each other in the Church to keep each other on the straight and narrow. Acceptance of this, or indeed any other sin, is failing our brothers and sisters in Christ. When I see things like this I sometimes wonder whether it is any wonder that the Methodists are the fastest declining denomination in the UK or of it is only by God’s grace that they continue to exist.