The Methodist Church Ghana has disassociated itself from its analogous church in the United Kingdom (UK) over a decision by the latter to consider legalising same-sex marriage by 2020.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the leadership of the Methodist Church Ghana rejected “any revisionists interpretations of the Bible that seek to make same-sex relationships permissible.”
The reaction of the church in Ghana follows the British Conference of the Methodist Church voting overwhelmingly to consider permitting same-sex marriages on its premises.
The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, Reverend Dr Paul K. Boafo, who addressed the press, said the church in Ghana would meet next month to decide on what its reverend ministers and church members in the UK would have to do in the interim regarding their decision.
After a meeting in Birmingham from June 29 to July 4, 2019, the British Methodist Conference in its Business Digest published that “following debates held on Monday, July 1 and Wednesday, July 3, the report of the Marriage and Relationships task Group was commended to the connexion for study and prayerful discussion.”
It further said that “provisional resolutions were passed on the qualities of good relating, on understanding of cohabitation, celebration of civil partnerships, prayers following the end of a marriage and permission for same-sex marriages to take place in Methodist Churches.”
“These will be voted on by District Synods during the year, and a report will be brought to the 2020 conference based on those responses,” it added.
However, a clause in the proposal said: “No one would have to officiate at a same-sex marriage if they feel prevented by their conscience.”
Methodist Chuch Ghana
In a rebuttal, the Presiding Bishop assured all Methodists in the country and Christians in general that the Methodist Church Ghana remained “unashamedly a church that believes in the authority of the Bible.
“We stand by the Wesleyan teaching on scriptural holiness. We believe that marriage is ordained by God and as our liturgy on wedding declares, it is not to be thought of lightly or selfishly but in the fear and love of God,” he declared.
Bishop Boafo said “the Methodist Church Ghana has not amended her position on marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman, and neither do we permit cohabitation by unmarried couples nor encourage divorce by Christians.”
“That is what we believe and that is what we ask our ministers, lay preachers, evangelists and other agents to preach and hold on to,” Rev. Dr Boafo added.
Rev. Dr Boafo, who described the situation as a sad development for Methodism worldwide (as it had its roots in the UK), however, said the decisions taken by the UK Methodist Conference had no bearing on the Ghana Methodist Church as it had since 1961 remained independent from them.
Although independent, he said the church in Ghana had maintained a working relationship with the British Conference as the “mother church” that gave birth to the Methodist Church Ghana.
“This historical relationship notwithstanding, being an autonomous conference means that the Methodist Church Ghana is not bound by decisions of the British, nor any other conference,” he added.
Institution of marriage
The Rev. Minister said: “If marriage is given by God, then obviously the institution ought to be lived within the context of God’s word”.
That, therefore, made sexuality a sacred act for the expression of love within long-term covenanted relationships with responsibilities and privileges defined by both law and faith.
According to him, the seriousness of the decision made by the British Conference was clearer when considered against the backdrop of the fact that as people called Methodists or Wesleyans, “we belong to an evangelical faith that upholds the integrity of the Bible and the pursuit of life of holiness.”
Rev. Dr Boafo stated that the church held the position that sex outside of marriage and same-sex relationships or any other alternate sexual lifestyles such as gay and lesbian options, were all inconsistent with biblical ethics and morality.
“Our position is that sexuality has important implications for the relationship between human beings and God, and for us as Christians, it is an issue that cannot be dissociated from faith commitments and responsibilities,” Rev. Dr Boafo said.
Marriage, as far as the Methodist Church Ghana was concerned, was a covenant ordained by God to be strictly speaking observed between a male and a female only, Rev. Dr Boafo said.
Such decisions, according to him, were made with the laws of the countries in which the particular church existed. “Besides, our African ethos do not permit such alternative lifestyle and frown upon them and we still uphold our Ghanaian and African culture as against any other cultures and are proud to be Ghanaian and African”.
He expressed the hope that “our government and politicians would take note of these trends, thread cautiously and not allow themselves to be pressured under the guise of receiving more aid funding to give in to these modern lifestyles that overthrow our cultural values and Christian principles as a nation.”
This is the second time in recent times a Ghanaian church is having disagreements with its counterpart in the West over same-sex marriage. In March, 2015, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) cut ties with its peer in the United States over the American Church’s decision to accept homosexuality.
The severance led to the resignation of Rev Dr Yaw Frimpong Manso, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, who was leading the PCG in the United States.