Friday, February 28, 2014

Where lies the strength?

1. Conclusion: the Salvation Army – What is the position of the SA on questions of equality, acceptance and inclusivity of LGBT persons/couples with reference to our religious practices, church membership 
and ordination?

The story is told of one of the 18th century preacher Jonathan Edwards’ daughters said to have a violent temper. And when a young man who’d fallen in love with her requested her hand in marriage Edward’s response was a firm, no! He was denied the request. When the young man sought an explanation Edwards replied: “She is not worthy of you”! “But,” said the young man, “isn’t she a Christian”? “Yes she is, but the grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else can live”

Over the course of these last several weeks when we looked at the divisive issues surrounding the LGBT inclusivity debates I wonder if Edwards’ indictment isn’t in a sense descriptive of some of our attitudes at times. Sometimes we need to face the brutal honesty that exists between family members who earnestly love each other but who sometimes expresses blunt disapproval. In our case it’s an unwillingness to get alongside and accept a different point of view or interpretation of the Bible. Salvationists in the northern hemisphere reject those in the south and conversely those in the South just can’t accept and live with the views and life choice advice of those in the North. And it isn’t only across borders north and south but also east and west; east coast America to rural central and the south central states.
Instead of reaching across Salvationist borders and cultures and learning from our individual experiences we become too easily frustrated and angered because ‘we know better’. - Love is not easily angered Paul tells us, and we keep no records. I don’t store up in my memory the rubbish opinions tossed out by the good ole boy from Hayseed. Not angered and keeping no mental count? Not much I don’t! I’d give Scrooge a good run in finding and registering mistakes in a ledger-
Predictably we expected a varied outcome in the debates. However, any assumption that there has been a representative posture or a semblance of geographically balanced posts, discussions, or comments by Salvationist officers, soldiers or adherents on these questions would be far from correct. The balance has been largely distorted as comments and articles have come from mostly younger Christians, all living in the Northern hemisphere with a few baby boomers in their midst. Some older respondents, new to the LGBT scene along with most of the rest of us have in their wisdom have been able to recalibrate and adjust their approach to the heady discussions as the times have changed. They seek to influence with grace while reflecting a strong commitment to the Scriptures. They have their preferential position, a strong conservative endorsement of traditional teaching but willing to listen and share in non-judgmental or dismissive tones with anyone.
Fair enough you say, but where then is the imbalance?  Well it rests in the fact that SA leaders will not write a ‘new’ Salvationist position statement that seeks to unilaterally impose itself on 1,150,000 soldiers in 126 countries  is unlikely because it’s an impossibility. Not only, as some suggest, because of the sheer numbers, different cultures, languages, education and experience. But because the large majority of Salvationists garner their guarded opinions and reasoning from places where we do not; their local provinces, cultures, fundamentalist Bible teaching and government laws, where homosexuality is considered a sin. We have no large middle ground Salvationist population that counts for and represents a more liberal Bible interpretation and support

I shared in an earlier article that seventy five per cent of the world’s population, four billion of us, use social networks regularly and it has overtaken email as the number one activity and the web. Ours (FSAOF) is but one of 200 million blogs posting nearly 1,000,000 blogs announcement and articles per day.

Since the inception of the FSAOF blog six years ago we have posted 1,419 articles and as many as 15,000 visitors per month have viewed more than 335,000 pages and left 9,000+ comments. But just how many in our Salvationist fellowships, those many in fundamental and more conservative communities have taken the time or indeed have access to our discussions on these divisive issue.

While we in the Western world, families, communities and religious fellowship continue our discussions and grow in our understanding of the issues, approximately 60% of our worldwide fellowship or more than 600,000 soldiers know little of our leaders’ grappling with the form of a revised positional statement.

Number of Salvation Army Senior Soldiers World Wide

Senior Soldiers”
African Continent- India and Korea

Senior Soldiers:


Millions are stuck behind centuries of prejudicial condemnations and blind discrimination. Some of our more fundamentalist and conservative Christian and cultural minorities have been "left behind".  Computers and the Internet use by Africans (Salvationists) was carried out in eleven leading commercial cities in African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar and Angola by Consumer Insight, a leading research agency in the region.

The most recent, and now 5 year old study established that 74 percent of residents in Nairobi – Kenya have used a computer at least once. The second and third best in computer literacy are Lagos - Nigeria and Kampala - Uganda at 69 and 68 percent, respectively. Lusaka - Zambia was ranked last with 32 percent.

This means that 68 percent of Lusaka residents have not used a computer, compared to only 26 percent of Nairobians. Illiteracy and lack of ready access to and computer instructions were the key negative factors. The study established that browsing the internet was the most common use across countries

Almost all religions practiced across Africa, from Christianity and Islam to traditional African religions, reject same-sex relationships. People living in a homosexual relationship or who campaign for the rights of gays and lesbians may face prison sentences of up to ten years in one country. In almost all other countries, the law foresees prison sentences for same-sex couples indulging in sexual relations although such penalties are rarely imposed.

The negative opinion of homosexuality held by religious groups is also reflected in the population at large. According to opinion polls, up to 90 percent of the population in certain Southern hemisphere countries consider homosexuality to be morally unacceptable.

Against this background, the situation of homosexuals in Africa is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future. While there can be discussion about human rights, "if almost all members of society do not agree with a certain right, then it should no longer exist."  According to Amnesty International, South Africa is so far the only African country in which the rights of homosexuals are laid down in the constitution.

A Catholic leader said that there is no doubt about this topic. "The Church can respect human rights. But if human rights conflict with God's commandments, then a (African) judge will never support them."

Part 2: Are we really expected to sit down with those who represent two thirds of our total membership and whose position appears entrenched? 

Sven Ljungholm, Liverpool

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

United Methodist Church: LGBT Issues

Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues: United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church, with an estimated 10.4 million members, has current policies that are contrary to the wishes of many if the LGBT community. However, many church leaders, including local pastors, welcome gays and lesbians as church members and support their basic human rights. The denomination prohibits ministers from blessing same-sex unions and condemns gay sex. It also officially excludes noncelibate gay and lesbian people from ordination, though this rule has been the subject of recent controversy.

Rights for Gays and Lesbians
Regarding the denomination’s particular stance on homosexuality, the 2012 Book of Discipline states:
“The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.  We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.”

The United Methodist Church supports “certain basic human rights and civil liberties” for gays and lesbians, including some limited recognition of same-sex relationships. For example, the 2008 Book of Discipline states:
“Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. We see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting the rightful claims where people have shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, mutual powers of attorney, and other such lawful claims typically attendant to contractual relationships that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection before the law. Moreover, we support efforts to stop violence and other forms of coercion against all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.”
However, the denomination’s top court declined to reconsider Judicial Council Decision 1032 at the end of October 2010. Decision 1032 states that a United Methodist pastor has the right to determine local church membership, even if the decision is based on the person’s sexual orientation.

Sexual Relations
The 2008 Book of Discipline frames the UMC’s beliefs about human sexuality, “Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.”

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions
The church forbids United Methodist ministers from performing weddings or commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples even in states where it is legal or for its buildings to be used for such ceremonies.

At the 2012 General Conference, the policy forbidding the blessing of same-sex unions was challenged but upheld. The conference delegates also upheld church’s official doctrine declaring support for “laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
In 2012, the General Conference reaffirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman by stating:
“We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God’s blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Additionally, the UMC’s Judicial Council ruled in 2009 that church law prohibits clergy from performing same-sex marriages or commitment ceremonies. Thus, the denomination does not sanction civil union ceremonies or weddings conducted by UMC ministers or in UMC churches, despite appeals from some regional congregations and clergy that it does so.
In 2011, some 70 United Methodist ministers in Minnesota announced that they're willing to marry gay couples. They signed a statement at Minnesota's Annual United Methodist Clergy Conference, saying they would "offer the grace of the Church's blessing to any prepared couple desiring Christian marriage." The move by the ministers comes as Minnesota voters prepare to vote next year on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage in the state as being only between one man and one woman.

Ordination of Gay and Lesbian Ministers
The UMC’s official doctrine bars “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from the clergy.
“While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
"Self-avowed practicing homosexual" is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual.

Resources for LGBT United Methodists
The Reconciling Ministries Network is a coalition of LGBT-inclusive UMC congregations and ministries that offers contact information for LGBT-friendly churches around the United States.
Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns encourages more inclusive policies for LGBT people within the church.

The Methodist Federation for Social Action works to advance social justice policies within the church, including advocacy on behalf of LGBT people.
Film: Incompatible with Christian Teaching is a documentary film directed by Anne Brown, detailing the stories of clergy and laity, and GLBT and straight allies.

If you would like to communicate with the United Methodist Church in the United States, here is their mailing address:

United Methodist
Office of Public Information
810 Twelfth St. South
Nashville, TN 37203

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homosexuality and Christianity

The issue of homosexuality and Christianity is a subject of on-going theological debate within and between Christian denominations and this list summarises to a limited extent the various official positions. Within denominations, many members may hold somewhat differing views on and even differing definitions of homosexuality. The list is in alphabetical order. The most recent Methodist Church and The Salvation Army positional statements follow tomorrow.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is opposed to same-gender sexual practices and relationships on the grounds that "sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman

Anglicanism (Including Episcopal)
The Anglican Communion has been divided over the issue of homosexuality in several ways. The Church of England, the mother church of the Communion, currently maintains that same-sex partnerships are acceptable for laypersons but gay clergy are expected to be abstinent.

The Lambeth Conference of 1998 called homosexuality "incompatible with Scripture" but this remains a purely advisory guideline as there are no communion-wide legislative bodies in the Anglican Church.

On the other hand, in 2003 the Episcopal Church, which is the American body (province) of the Anglican Communion, approved Gene Robinson to the bishopric of the diocese of New Hampshire. Bishop Gene Robinson is the first openly gay (non-celibate) clergy to be ordained to the episcopate.

The Anglican Church of New Zealand has decided to allow non-celibate homosexuals to become clergy.

Baptist Churches
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest of the Baptist denominations and the single largest Protestant group in the U.S., considers same-gender sexual behavior to be sinful, stating clearly that its members "affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a 'valid alternative lifestyle.'

The American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) officially regards homosexual conduct "as incompatible with Biblical teaching"; however, there are a number of Baptist churches in the ABCUSA and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that have more inclusive views.

The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, a group of some 50 churches and organizations, is committed to the "full inclusion" of gay and lesbian persons in their churches.

The historically African-American denominations of the National Baptist Convention have issued no public statements on homosexuality; however, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. does not allow its clergy to officiate at ceremonies for same-sex unions

Canadian and American Reformed Churches
The Canadian and American Reformed Churches cite Biblical sources from Leviticus 20:13, which reads: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable." NIV
A homosexual member of one of these churches will be placed under censure or excommunicated and can only be received again into the communion of saints and be admitted to the Lord's Supper in these Reformed traditions after he/she has declared repentance from his/her homosexuality, which the churches teach is a sin. After repentance, the person is declared forgiven by the church.

Christian Reformed Church in Europe
Many reformed churches in Europe do not view monogamous same sex relationships as sinful or immoral. These include all German Lutheran, reformed and united churches in EKD, all Swiss reformed churches in Swiss Reformed Church, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, the United Protestant Church in Belgium, the Danish National Church, the Church of Sweden, the Church of Iceland, the Church of Norway, the France Reformed Church and the Waldensian Evangelical Church in Italy. The degree of acceptance varies from country to country, and even from community to community.

Christian Reformed Church in North America
The Christian Reformed Church in North America has maintained the stance since the 1970s that homosexuality is the direct result of a "broken," sinful world, but that the Church should offer a compassionate community for Christian homosexuals. "Homosexualism" (explicit homosexual behavior) is considered disobedience to God's will revealed in Scripture. Celibate and repentant gays and lesbians should not be denied any right granted to heterosexuals. They have the right to maintain office and be an active member in a congregation, as their gifts can still be used to glorify God. The Church must provide support for homosexuals to find "healing and wholeness" in their "broken sexuality".

Although the First Christian Reformed Church of Toronto (also the first CRC congregation to call a woman minister) voted to allow gays and lesbians in committed partnerships as elders and deacons, this decision was later rescinded in the face of pressure from Classis Toronto (regional gathering of churches).

Churches of Christ
Except for the Bible, there is no universal belief, creed, or confession of faith among the various independent Churches of Christ. Congregations of the Church of Christ, each individually led by local elders or pastors, set policy for their own individual congregations. Members become a part of the Church of Christ when they are added by God as believing, confessing, repentant persons immersed in water (Baptism) for the forgiveness of sins. A confession of faith precedes baptism but does not include a declaration or denunciation of homosexuality nor any other sins individually. Most persons within the international fellowship of autonomous congregations would likely believe that homosexual activity is incompatible with living a faithful Christian life. Positions taken by Churches of Christ, through various church related publications and from church affiliated colleges and Universities, are almost unanimous in their opposition to homosexuality in any form. No congregations that condone homosexuality are known to exist; however, views on the issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriage among individual members range widely from very conservative to progressive.
Openly gay and lesbian persons will find it difficult to find a congregation willing to include them in church life if they are unrepentant of what the church considers an ungodly lifestyle. Even openly gay baptized believers who are celibate, though unwilling to change their beliefs concerning homosexuality, may find it difficult to be accepted. The "disfellowshipping" of gay and lesbian persons from congregations is not unheard of. However, many urban and even small-town congregations are actively opening dialog with and seeking to minister to the gay population in their locales.

The Orthodox Church holds the opinion that sexuality, as we understand it, is part of the fallen world only. In Orthodox theology both monasticism and marriage are paths to Salvation (sotiriain Greek; literally meaning, "becoming whole"). Celibacy is the ideal path, exemplified in monasticism, while marriage is blessed under the context of true love ("Man must love his wife as Jesus loved his Church": this phrase is part of the Orthodox Marriage Ritual). This context can be interpreted by the non-Orthodox as not being exclusive of homosexuality; whereas it is seen as exclusive of homosexuality by the vast majority of the Orthodox.

On 21 August 2009, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran church body in the United States, voted 559 to 451 in favor of allowing non-celibate gays to become ordained ministers. During the national meeting in 2005, delegates voted against a measure that would have allowed non-celibate gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions by 503 against to 490 in favor. ELCA Lutheran policy states that LGBT individuals are welcome and encouraged to become members and participate in the life of the congregation. The ELCA does not yet have a rite for blessing same-sex unions, but another motion passed at the 2009 Assembly directed its leaders to develop one. ELCA congregations that specifically embrace LGBT persons are called Reconciling in Christ congregations. The group Lutherans Concerned supports the inclusion of LGBT members in Lutheran churches in the ELCA and ELCIC. Many other groups do not explicitly state their positions. In 2013, the ELCA elected its first openly gay bishop.

Missouri Synod (LC-MS), the second largest Lutheran church in the United States at 2.4 million members, does not ordain homosexuals. The LCMS Synodical President Gerald Kieschnick was present to register the objections of the LC-MS to the ordination of homosexuals at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009, despite refusing to participate in Lutheran ecumenical associations.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), the third largest Lutheran church in the United States at 395,947 members,[36] does not ordain homosexuals.

Most Lutheran state churches in Germany, Lutheranism's country of origin, are also liberal, viewing homosexuality as moral and allow gay and lesbian clergy. But the Lutheran churches in Germany are also divided on the issue of blessing same-sex unions…. Nevertheless, all the state churches agree that gay and lesbian individuals are welcome as members, and that any kind of persecution is unacceptable.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden allowed in 2006 blessings of same-sex unions and in 2009 same-sex marriage and permit gay clergy. KG Hammar, former Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden, that has been very vocal in supporting gay and lesbian Lutherans. In 2009 Eva Brunne, openly lesbian, was elected as bishop in Stockholm, Church of Sweden.

The Church of Norway is divided, with 6 of 11 bishops accepting homosexual practice as moral, even though the church officially rejects it.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is divided on issue, but many of its most well known bishops have expressed their acceptance for homosexuality. Also some theologians related to church have supported gay-marriages. As of October 2010, the Church of Finland allows, but does not oblige its priests to pray for same-sex couples.

The smaller and more conservative denominations of the International Lutheran Council and Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference do not sanction same-sex partnerships among the clergy or laity.

Mennonite Churches
The Mennonite Church is split into various denominations. The largest Mennonite denomination in North America is the Mennonite Church USA. The 1995 Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective expressly states that marriage is between one man and one woman. The Mennonite Church USA, however, does have a small proportion of congregations that are "Welcoming Congregations" which are churches who are "welcoming" and "inclusive" of LGBTQ people in all levels of church life. The name "Welcoming Congregation" is a designation of the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBTQ interests (BMC) an organization started jointly between the Brethren and Mennonite churches in the early 1970s. The mission of BMC is to cultivate an inclusive church and society and to care for the Mennonite and Brethren lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied community


Methodist Church of Great Britain
The Methodist Church of Great Britain has not taken a definitive stance on homosexuality, although affirms the traditional belief that individuals should remain chaste outside marriage. In 2006, the Church also prohibited the blessing of same sex unions on or off church property.

The United Methodist Church
Since 1972, the United Methodist Church is its official positions on homosexuality has maintain the Book of Discipline and has declared "homosexual practice" to be "incompatible with Christian teaching." Currently the Book of Discipline prohibits the ordination of "practicing, self-avowed homosexuals," forbids clergy from blessing or presiding over same-sex unions, forbids the use of UMC facilities for same-sex union ceremonies and prohibits the use of Church funds for "gay caucuses" or other groups that "promote the acceptance of homosexuality."

Despite this language, members of the Church are not of one mind on this issue. Preceding the incompatibility clause the Book of Discipline clearly states that "homosexual persons, no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth." Some believe that this "sacred worth" clause stands in contradiction to the following statement regarding the incompatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching. The Book of Discipline affirms that all persons, both heterosexual and homosexual, are included in the ministry of the church and can receive the gift of God's grace. While the Book of Discipline supports the civil rights of homosexual persons and rejects the abuse of homosexuals by families and churches, it also calls for laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Metropolitan Community Church
The Metropolitan Community Church is an international fellowship of Christian congregations. It is considered by many to be a full mainline denomination or communion. There are currently 300 congregations in 22 countries, and the Fellowship has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Acceptance of homosexuality is an important part of its theology.

Moravian Church
The Moravian Church declared in 1974 that gays and lesbians were full members of the Christian community. In 2002, the Northern Provincial Synod placed a moratorium for the time being on further decisions about homosexuality. Currently, the questions of marriage and ordination are unresolved.

New Apostolic Church
The New Apostolic Church maintains that it is solely for God to determine whether, and to what extent, a person acquires guilt before God through the practice of his or her homosexuality. In this regard, the Church expressly states that sexual orientation has no relevance in pastoral care.
Old Catholic Church

The Old Catholic Churches in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands view homosexuality as moral, permit gay and lesbian priests, and bless gay couples.[citation needed] These should not be confused with the Roman Catholic Church, nor should one confuse the positions of the Old Roman Catholics (traditional Old Catholics) with those of traditionalist Roman Catholic groups who hold the identical position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Most churches that are within the Pentecostal Movement view homosexual behavior as a sin. The second largest Pentecostal Church in the USA, the Assemblies of God, makes its view clear on homosexuality in a position paper stating: "It should be noted at the outset that there is absolutely no affirmation of homosexual behavior found anywhere in Scripture. Rather, the consistent sexual ideal is chastity for those outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage and fidelity for those inside such a marriage. There is also abundant evidence that homosexual behavior, along with illicit heterosexual behavior, is immoral and comes under the judgment of God"

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest U.S. Presbyterian body, has approved the ordination of non-celibate gays. On July 8, 2010, by a vote of 373 to 323, the General Assembly voted to propose to the presbyteries a constitutional amendment to remove the restriction against the ordination of partnered homosexuals. Nevertheless, the Church remains divided over the issue of homosexuality. Although gay and lesbian persons are welcome to become members of the church, denominational policy prohibited non-celibate same-sex relations (as well as non-celibate heterosexual relations outside of marriage) for those serving as ministers or as elders on key church boards until 2010. After rancorous debate, that policy was upheld in a vote of presbyteries in 2002, but overruled in 2010. The denomination's constitution defines marriage as "a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship". The denomination commissioned a study on the "peace, unity, and purity" of the church which found that homosexuality was not, in and of itself, a stumbling block to ordination. The report also suggested that Presbyteries and local governing bodies be the place where case-by-case decisions be made on the "readiness" of homosexual candidates for ministry. The Church does bless same-sex unions, but does not officially permit same-sex marriages, and does not explicitly support the consummation of these unions.

Quakers in many countries, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, are supportive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, seeing this as necessary aspect of the Equality Testimony and part of historical Quaker activism against injustice and oppression. Quakers in these countries have become active in the fight for equality of marriage for same-sex couples, and perform same-sex commitment or marriage ceremonies as part of Quaker business.

In the United States of America, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is deeply divided on the issue. The more conservative Friends United Meeting and Friends Evangelical Church considers homosexuality sinful; but other Friends, such as those in the Friends General Conference, strongly support equal ecclesiastical rights for gay and lesbian persons.[citation needed] Hartford, Connecticut Quakers as far back as 1986 issued a statement recognizing both same-sex and heterosexual celebrations of marriage, and in 1988 the Beacon Hill Quaker Meeting in Massachusetts also issued a statement in support of recognizing same-sex marriage ceremonies. In 2009, several Quaker meetings including the Twin Cities Friends Meeting (St. Paul and Minneapolis) announced they would stop signing certificates for opposite-sex marriages until same-sex marriages were fully legalized

Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church considers human sexual behavior that it sees as properly expressed to be sacred, sacramental in nature. Sexual acts other than "unprotected" vaginal intercourse within a heterosexual marriage are considered sinful because in the Church's understanding, sexual acts, by their nature, are meant to be both unitive and procreative (mirroring God's inner Trinitarian life). The Church also understands the complementarity of the sexes to be part of God's plan. Same-gender sexual acts are incompatible with this framework: "Homosexual acts are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. To be sure, the Church has clearly stated that homosexual desires or attractions themselves are not necessarily sinful. They are said to be "disordered" in the sense that they tempt one to do something that is sinful (i.e., the homosexual act), but temptations beyond one's control are not considered sinful in and of themselves. For this reason, while the Church does oppose same-gender sexual acts, it also officially urges respect and love for those who do experience same-sex attractions and isn't opposed to the homosexual orientation, thus the Catholic Church is also opposed to persecutions and violence against the LGBT community:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."[63]
The Church considers the call to chastity universal to all persons according to their state in life. For those who do experience gay sexual attractions, the Catholic Church offers the following counsel: "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."

Homosexuality and priesthood
The Roman Catholic Church forbids the ordination of men who have "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," as it is expressed in a 2005 document, called Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders. Men with transitory same-sex tendencies could be eligible for ordination after three years of having moved on from this stage of their life. The use of the term 'homosexual tendencies' is unique to this document and has given rise to debate as to what was intended, with most Bishops and Religious Orders understanding the document in a Thomistic framework in which tendency implies the desire and intent to bring an act to completion . Accordingly the dominant position take in response to this document is to interpret it as referring to gay men who cannot or do not intend to remain celibate, and the vast majority of dioceses and orders continue to accept gay candidates who are willing to embrace the discipline of celibacy and show the requisite psychosexual maturity (this is, of course, required of heterosexual candidates also). Furthermore, the fact that the document is a letter from a dicastery places it at a lesser level of teaching authority and accordingly it should not be understood as representing a definitive and fully binding expression of the Church's mind on this issue.

United Church of Canada        
The United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, affirms that gay and lesbian persons are welcome in the church and the ministry. The resolution "A) That all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, who profess Jesus Christ and obedience to Him, are welcome to be or become full member of the Church. B) All members of the Church are eligible to be considered for the Ordered Ministry." was passed in 1988. This was not done, however, without intense debate over what was termed "the issue"; some congregations chose to leave the church rather than support the resolution. In August 2012, the governing body of the church, General Council - which gathers trianually to determine the leadership and direction of the church - selected Rev. Gary Paterson to be its' mo
derator. He is believed to be the first openly gay leader of any mainline Christian denomination anywhere in the world.

In July 2005, the 25th General Synod encouraged congregations to affirm "equal marriage rights for all", and to consider "wedding policies that do not discriminate based on the gender of the couple." The resolution also encouraged congregations to support legislation permitting civil same-sex marriage rights. By the nature of United Church of Christ polity, General Synod resolutions officially speak "to, but not for" the other settings of the denomination (local congregations, associations, conferences, and the national offices). This Synod also expressed respect for those bodies within the church that disagree and called for all members "to engage in serious, respectful, and prayerful discussion of the covenantal relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender."
Some associations permit ordination of non-celibate gay clergy and some clergy and congregations are willing to perform or allow same-sex marriages or union services. Approximately 10% of UCC congregations have adopted an official "open and affirming" statement welcoming gay and lesbian persons in all aspects of church life. A few congregations explicitly oppose the General Synod Equal Marriage Rights resolution – an independent movement called "Faithful and Welcoming Churches(FWC)" that partly defines faithful as "Faithful... to the preservation of the family, and to the practice and proclamation of human sexuality as God's gift for marriage between a man and a woman."[70] Many congregations have no official stance; these congregations' de facto stances vary widely in their degree of welcome toward gay and lesbian persons.

Uniting Church in Australia
The Uniting Church in Australia allows for the membership and ordination of gay and lesbian people. On 17 July 2003 it clarified its 1982 position when the national Assembly meeting stated that people had interpreted the scriptures with integrity in coming to the view that a partnered gay or lesbian person in a committed same sex relationship could be ordained as a minister. It also stated that people who had come to the opposite view had also interpreted the scriptures with integrity.

United Reformed Church
The United Reformed Church of Great Britain has committed itself to continue to explore differences of view among its members, in the light of the Church’s understanding of scripture and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A detailed report was submitted to the 2007 General Assembly

The Methodist Church and The Salvation Army; Feb 26