An agency within the United Methodist Church says its aiming to help gay youth by seeking to lift the Mainline denomination's ban on funding groups that promote homosexuality.
Timothy L. Bias, general secretary for the United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, told The Christian Post that the reason for crafting legislation to amend the denomination's Book of Discipline is to allow the agency to "provide resources aimed at preventing teen suicide, particularly among youth who feel marginalized by their sexual identity."
"If the legislation is approved, our agency, among others, can then develop resources and programs for the LGBTQ community, preventing despair and hopelessness," said Bias.
"Our board feels called to develop resources and programs that would bring the hope of Jesus Christ to those alienated by the church's theological stance on homosexuality."
Unlike other Mainline Protestant denominations, the UMC maintains that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and among other things prohibits church funds from going to any entity that promotes acceptance of homosexuality.
In recent years, much internal debate has existed within the UMC over whether to change the Book of Discipline's language on homosexuality.
Bias told CP that the board of directors for Discipleship Ministries was only seeking to change the funding rules in the Book of Discipline and no other portion.
John Lomperis, director of the Institute for Religion & Democracy's United Methodist program, told CP that he believed the agency's proposal was "misleading" and "pastorally harmful."
"This is another case of a very unrepresentative, liberal-stacked group of some United Methodists offering the same old tired and failed liberal agendas that have destroyed other denominations," said Lomperis.
"This proposal would put countless faithful United Methodist individuals and congregations in the impossible situation of being forced to advocate against our church's own biblical standards."
Lomperis also told CP that he believed the agency "is making a ridiculously illogical argument, saying that it is somehow impossible for our church to minister to same-sex attracted teens at risk for suicide without our church very broadly advocating for moral approval of homosexual practice."
"Discipleship Ministries should instead be recommending Christian resources for how to love our same-sex attracted neighbors and family members, as well as adolescents facing all sorts of struggles with their sexuality, while affirming and encouraging God's good moral boundaries for sexual behavior," continued Lomperis.
Discipleship Ministries' proposal will be debated at the United Methodist Church's General Conference, which will take place in Portland, Oregon next May.