Days after the United Methodist Church voted down an amendment to its Book of Discipline that would have said God is not "male or female," the denomination says there will be a revote as the text had an error.
The amendment that failed to pass on Monday was centered on gender equality, but a sentence "that should not have been included in the amendment was removed by a vote of 746–56" was "inadvertently included in the version that was distributed," the denomination said in a statement.
That sentence reads as follows: "The United Methodist Church recognizes it is contrary to Scripture and to logic to say that God is male or female, as maleness and femaleness are characteristics of human bodies and cultures, not characteristics of the divine."
The text, as approved by the General Conference, should have read: "As the Holy Scripture reveals, both men and women are made in the image of God and, therefore, men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God. The United Methodist Church acknowledges the long history of discrimination against women and girls. The United Methodist Church shall confront and seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large. The United Methodist Church shall work collaboratively with others to address concerns that threaten the cause of women's and girl's equality and well-being."
As a corrective measure, "a new ballot is being prepared for voting by annual conferences at their next meeting; however, some conferences will not meet again until 2019," the Rev. Gary W. Graves, secretary of the General Conference, was quoted as saying.
Many in the UMC had expressed concern over how Amendment I included the claim that "it is contrary to Scripture and to logic to say that God is male or female."
"Does this mean Jesus is not male? Or does it mean that Jesus, who is obviously male, is not divine? Either position is contrary to our doctrinal standards," noted Good News magazine in 2017.
"While this statement is well-intentioned, and we support its strong emphasis on the equality of women, we are concerned with its theological fuzziness being written into our Constitution. The church's advocacy for women's equality is well-stated elsewhere in the Book of Discipline."