The General Conference has voted to table all petitions related to human sexuality. This means that the language in the current Discipline concerning homosexuality and same-sex marriages and civil unions will be retained in the 2012 Discipline.
Both those hoping for more inclusive language and those who were committed to keeping the language the same voted to table the motion. Why? For those who want restrictive language, legislation to change the language in the Social Pronciples had already failed. Our Discipline will, once again, say that the UMC does not condone the practice of homosexuality and that its practice is not compatible with Chrisitan teaching. Because that legislation was defeated by nearly 70%, those who wanted restrictive language were confident that no other changes could be made.
And for those who had worked to end the restrictions on performing same-sex marriages and to allow LGBT men and women to be ordained and serve as clergy, the decision to vote to table came for another reason. There was fear that if human sexuality legislation was considered, that the Discipline language would be changed to be more excluding. In addition, the debates concerning human sexuality that have taken place in legislative committees and in the plenary sessions have included harmful and wounding words. Tabling the legislation ended this painful practice.
Differences, cultural and theological, concerning human sexuality has influenced General Conference conversation. I have no doubt that this conversation will continue. My hope is that the conversation is surrounded by God's grace and care for all God's people.