The Social Principles

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The Social Principles

The Social Principles are reprinted in full from the Book of Discipline as a reminder of our Wesleyan concern for social as well as personal holiness. Affirming our desire for full salvation, which will lead us to avoid evil, do good and obey God, Methodists have sought to articulate what, in today's society, is good and what is to be avoided. Following the brief preamble that summarises the basis for social concern in our Methodist heritage and theology, six principles are listed: Sharing God's Love in the Family; The Stewardship of Wealth; The Responsible Use of Power; Social Responsibilities in Community Life; Serving Others with God's Love; and Caring for God's World.

-- Excerpt from The People Called Methodists: The Heritage, Life and Mission of The Methodist Church in Singapore

The Social Principles of The Methodist Church in Singapore

  • Section I. Our Methodist Heritage
  • Section II. Our Methodist Theological Basis for Social Concerns
  • Section III. Our Methodist Social Principles
  • Sharing God's love in the Family
  • The Stewardship of Wealth
  • The Responsible Use of Power
  • Social Responsibilities in Community Life
  • Serving Others with God's Love
  • Caring for God's World
  • Section IV. Our Methodist Social Creed

Section I. Our Methodist Heritage

1. Christian social responsibility is rooted in the teachings of the Bible. It is an integral part of the Gospel which the Church is expected to proclaim, uphold and follow.

2. The Methodist Church has a special interest in social concerns because of its desire to be obedient to Christ in bringing the whole of life with its activities, possessions, relationships and environment into conformity with the will of God. Such obedience is exemplified in the life and labour of John Wesley who ministered to the physical, intellectual, spiritual and social needs of the people to whom he preached the Gospel of personal redemption and social holiness.

3. It is out of our gratitude for God’s love and in affirmation of our belief in the inestimable worth of each individual and the integrity of God’s creation, that we renew our commitment to become faithful witnesses to the gospel.

Section II. Our Methodist Theological Basis for Social Concerns

1. We believe that God is the Creator of all people, regardless of race, creed, status or sex, and that each person is of infinite worth. We believe that all persons have supreme value in the sight of God and ought to be so regarded by us.

2. We believe that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. Our own abilities and all we possess are gifts from God and should be held and used in stewardship to Him.

3. We believe that God in Christ is seeking to redeem all people and societies. We believe that the grace of God in Christ is available for redemption from individual and social sins as we seek to do His Holy will in penitence and obedience.

4. Since Jesus died and was raised from the dead for the redemption of all people, we believe we should live to help save humanity from sin and from every influence which would harm or destroy a person. All institutions and practices will be tested by their effect upon persons.

5. The Methodist Church must view the perplexing times and problems we face today in the light of the life and teaching of Jesus. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbours and to seek justice for all. Silence and passivity in the face of need, injustice and exploitation is to deny Christ.

Section III. Our Methodist Social Principles

The following Social Principles are formulated as a response of the Methodist Church in Singapore to human issues in the contemporary world. They are based on a biblical and theological foundation enriched by our Methodist tradition. The Social Principles call on all members of the Methodist Church in Singapore to a prayerful response of faith and practice.

Sharing God's love in the Family

We affirm the importance and sanctity of the family. We believe that the healthy family unit forms a basic social environment in which responsible teachings can be imparted, moral values disseminated, and where love is shared and the worth of each person is affirmed. We deplore and reject values and morals which undermine the sanctity of family life.

1. The Marital Relationship and Divorce.

a) We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant which is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and fidelity between a man and a woman. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage.

b) The Church views with great concern the increasing number of divorces and affirms the need for adequate premarital and marital counselling as well as marriage enrichment programmes. We also encourage an active and supportive commitment of the church and our society to minister in love to the divorced and their families.

2. Parent-Child Relationships.

a) We affirm the shared responsibility for parenting by men and women and encourage social, economic, and religious efforts to enhance and strengthen relationships within families.

b) We recognise the burden of single parent families and their need for understanding, care and support from the community and the Church.

c) We view with concern the diminishing time available for families to be together in our modern society. Families need to give priority to spending quality time together for family life enrichment, and in worship and recreation.

d) We believe that children have a duty to honour, respect and care for their parents especially in sickness and old age.

3. God’s Gift of Sex.

a) We recognise that human sexuality is a gift of God. Sexual intercourse is a sacred experience only when it is accompanied by the love and fidelity of a holy matrimony. We believe that sexual intercourse outside the bonds of matrimony is contrary to the will of God.

b) We deplore all forms of commercialisation and exploitation of sex with their consequent degradation of the human personhood. The distribution of pornographic and other sex-exploitative material should always be banned.

c) We consider the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teachings. However, we do recognise that homosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. They need the ministry and guidance of the Church as well as the spiritual and emotional support of a caring fellowship.

d) We believe that individuals who are confused about their sexual identity need the healing and transforming power of God’s grace rather than sex-change operations.

e) We affirm the integrity of single persons and reject all social practices that discriminate or social attitudes that are prejudicial against persons because they are unmarried.

4. Birth Control and Abortion.

a) We believe that planned parenthood, practised with respect for human life, fulfills rather than violates the will of God. It is the duty of each married couple prayerfully and responsibly to seek parenthood, avert it, or defer it in accordance with the best expression of their Christian love.

b) We affirm that life begins at conception and that the human embryo is not simply a mass of tissue that has the potential. We therefore do not subscribe to abortion except on medical grounds. We call on all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry in situations in which abortion may be contemplated and to seek medical, pastoral, and other appropriate counselling.

5. Infertility and Assisted Methods of Reproduction.

a) We affirm that every child is a gift from God and not a right to be demanded from God. Procreation is always by the grace of God and not simply a product of modern science even when assisted methods of human reproduction are used.

b) We recognise that infertility may be a cause of suffering for some married couples. We accept the procedures of assisted human reproduction which can be regarded as methods to assist natural reproduction as long as the egg or sperms of another person or surrogate mothers are not used.

c) Married couples who are burdened with the problem of infertility should prayerfully examine their motives for wanting a child and consider and understand the medical, spiritual, moral and legal implications of assisted reproductive procedures.

d) We are also concerned that assisted methods of human reproduction may be used for sex selection or by single persons or homosexual couples to have a child. We believe that this is not God’s divine plan for the family.

The Stewardship of Wealth

We claim all economic systems to be under the judgement of God and we need to test each aspect of every economic system by the commands of Christ and judge its practices by the Christian gospel.

1. Property and Possessions. We believe that ownership of property is a trusteeship under God and all our possessions are a trust from God to be managed responsibly. It is contrary to our Christian faith for any person or group of persons to have exclusive and arbitrary control of any part of the created universe.

2. The Acquisition of Wealth.

a) We need to prayerfully evaluate our personal and business practices so that we will not be influenced and controlled by the standards and values of a materialistic society and an extravagant lifestyle.

b) We support all honest measures that would reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. We should ensure that materialistic progress does not destroy our community spirit, undermine our family and dehumanise the individual.

3. A Simple Lifestyle and Consumerism.

a) We call on all Christians to adopt a simple lifestyle and to be ever conscious and vigilant against the influence of consumerism which thrives on pride and greed.

b) A simple lifestyle is not necessarily a call to an ascetic life. It is a spiritual discipline which increases our awareness of God’s presence and providence in our lives. A simple lifestyle frees us to be more sensitive to the needs of the poor and the beauty of God’s world.

4. Gambling.

a) Gambling is an expression of one’s desire to instant wealth. It is a form of bondage and a social sickness motivated by greed and covetousness. It is also a menace to society as it compromises the best interests of moral, social, economic and spiritual life of the community.

b) We do not subscribe to any form of gambling.

The Responsible Use of Power

The Christian point of view demands that concentrations of power in government, industry, business, and religious organisations be used responsibly for the welfare of the community.

1. Political Responsibilities.

a) We believe that all governments are under the sovereignty of God.

b) “Separation of church and state” means no organic union of the two but does permit interaction. The Church should continually exert a strong moral influence upon the state, by supporting policies and programmes which are just and compassionate and opposing policies and programmes which are not.

c) We believe that consensus building promotes social peace and order. It helps to provide an environment for healthy exchanges of ideas in a fair and orderly manner. However, decision making by consensus is fair and effective only if the people have sufficient channels opened for them to participate meaningfully in the process of decision making.

d) We will uplift all those in authority who serve the public in our prayers and we support their efforts to secure justice, benefits, and equal opportunities for all people.

2. The Christian and military service. The Methodist Church, true to the principles of the New Testament, teaches respect for properly constituted civil authority. It encourages both love of country and love of all men. It believes that the defence of the country is the responsibility of every able-bodied citizen.

3. The Use of Technology. We affirm that all technology is a gift from God and may contribute to the well being of all individuals and societies. However, we believe scientific and technological knowledge must be applied with spiritual wisdom if technology is not to be abused or to become a burden to society.

Social Responsibilities in Community Life

We recognise that Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society and believe that everyone is of equal worth in God’'s sight regardless of our creed, race, sex or age. We seek to work towards societies in which each person’'s unique value is recognised, affirmed, and strengthened.

1. Multi-religious Understanding.

a) We believe that it is necessary and healthy to engage in open and honest dialogue with persons of other faiths in a spirit of love, mutual respect and sensitivity.

b) We affirm the right of religious groups to exercise their faith without undue legal, political or financial encumbrances.

2. Multi-racial Harmony.

a) We believe that the cornerstone of racial harmony is love and acceptance of our neighbours regardless of their race or religious beliefs.

b) Racism inhibits and cripples our growth in Christ as it is antithetical to the gospel itself. Racial pride and prejudice when left unchecked is a potential source of inter-racial strife and conflict.

c) We rejoice in the gifts which each ethnic history and culture brings to our total life. We further assert the rights of members of racial and ethnic minorities to equal opportunities in employment and promotion; in education and training; in voting; in public housing; and in positions of leadership and in all aspects of community life.

3. Rights of Women.

a) We affirm women and men to be equal in every aspect of their common life. Women should therefore be given equal treatment in employment, promotion, compensation and citizenship privileges. We recognise the importance of women in decision-making positions at all levels of life.

4. Rights of the Aged. We support social policies that integrate the aging into the life of the total community, including sufficient incomes, increased and non-discriminatory employment opportunities, educational and service opportunities, and adequate medical care and housing within existing communities.

5. Rights of Children. We recognise that parents and society in general have special obligations to children. Children should not be deprived of education, food, shelter, clothing and health care. Furthermore, they must be protected from economic and sexual exploitation.

6. Rights of the Disabled. We affirm the responsibility of the church and society to minister to needs of persons with mental, physical and/or psychological disabilities. We urge the church and society to help disabled persons to enable them to be full participants in the community of faith and in the society at large.

7. Rights and Social Responsibilities.

a) It is important to make a distinction between a selfish and self-centred attitude to life and a healthy self-respect and self-love for oneself.

8. We believe that it is only when we recognise and fulfill our social responsibilities and obligations that our basic human rights will be respected. The affirmation of basic human rights and social responsibilities is an essential ingredient of democracy.

9. The Pursuit of Excellence.

a) We believe that excellence should not be pursued only in academic achievements, economic prosperity or productivity. We need also to strive for excellence in artistic, creative and spiritual endeavours.

b) We believe that a lifestyle grounded on spiritual values is our best defence against a blind utilitarian, selfish and materialistic approach to life.

Serving Others with God's Love

We affirm that it is in the Christian spirit for a person to be able to place the over-all interest and welfare of the community before the interest of self. We believe that each person has a special gift or talent which can be used for the development of a compassionate society.

1. Caring for the Poor.

a) We believe that meeting human needs is both a private and public responsibility. We need to be conscious of the plights of the poor and powerless in our society and the world.

b) We believe that it is our Christian duty to provide opportunities for education and training for the poor to upgrade or be gainfully employed.

2. The Promotion of Workers’ Welfare.

a) We stand for reasonable hours of work, for fair wages and for just and proper working conditions. All workers should be given time for leisure and recreation. Employees and employers alike have the right to organise for collective bargaining.

b) We fully support public and private programmes of economic security for old age and adequate insurance coverage for sickness and injury.

c) We believe in the dignity of labour and that unemployment tends to destroy human self-respect. We regard our vocations as spheres of service to God.

3. The Provision of Health Care.

a) We affirm that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and that it is our Christian responsibility to adopt healthy lifestyles. We also believe that affordable basic health care must be available to all.

b) We recognise overeating, alcoholism and smoking as major factors which contribute to illness and premature deaths. We discourage overeating and the consumption of alcohol and tobacco and fully support all educational programmes to change these unhealthy lifestyles. We believe that the Church is called to be a healing and redemptive fellowship for those struggling with these problems.

c) We affirm God’s sovereignty in healing and the need for medical resources to be used with common sense and compassion.

d) We affirm the maintenance of rigid controls in testing new technologies and drugs.

4. Caring for the Dying and Euthanasia.

a) We believe that God is always seeking to alleviate human suffering and we are called to be the channels of His grace and love to those who are dying.

b) The time between the diagnosis of terminal illness and the event of death can be transformed into a time of blessing and an opportunity for emotional and spiritual growth through the loving concern of those providing hospice care.

c) We do not subscribe to euthanasia for those who are terminally ill as euthanasia fails to recognise the spiritual dimension of life. We fully endorse hospice care as the more humane alternative to euthanasia.

5. Ministry to Drug Addicts. We support regulations that protect society from the abuse of drugs. The drug dependent person is an individual of infinite worth in need of treatment and rehabilitation. Drug abuse should be viewed as a symptom of wider disorders for which remedies should be sought.

6. Ministry to Prisoners.

a) In the love of Christ who came to save those who are lost, we need to minister to those in prisons and their families. We should also promote systems of rehabilitation that will restore, preserve, and nurture the humanity of the imprisoned.

b) We support legislations and social policies to reduce and eliminate crime.

7. Ministry To Foreign Maids and Labourers. We urge Christian employers of foreign maids and labourers to regard such employment as an opportunity for ministry to the poor from the less developed countries. We deplore the exploitation of such workers and fully support measures to provide these workers with proper living and working conditions, and fair wages.

Caring for God's World

All creation is of the Lord and we are called to be responsible stewards of water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life and outer space. We believe the Church has the responsibility and power to inculcate higher moral and spiritual values which are necessary to address the problems raised by the ecological crisis, the abuse of technological advances and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

1. Conservation Of Natural Resources. We support and encourage policies aimed at conservation of our natural resources, the prevention of pollution of our air, water and soil, the protection of wild life and the humane treatment of animals.

2. Building A World Community.

a) We stand for the promotion of international goodwill, peace and understanding among all nations. We believe that international cooperation will lead to peace and world order.

b) We believe that war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ and that the influence of the Church must always be on the side of every effort seeking to remove the seeds of war.

c) We respect properly constituted civil authority and encourage both love of country and love of all people. We believe that the defence of the country is the responsibility of every able-bodied citizen.

d) We affirm our historic concern for the world as our parish and seek for all persons and people full and equal membership in a truly world community.

Section IV. Our Methodist Social Creed

1. We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God’s gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts for personal gain.

2. We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its care, preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind.

3. We joyfully receive for ourselves and others, the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage and the family.

4. We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, the dying, and those with handicaps; to improvement in the quality of life, and to the rights and dignity of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities.

5. We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the good of themselves and others; in the rights of property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and the cultivation of a simple lifestyle; and in the elimination of economic and social distress.

6. We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to freedom for all people, and to the rule of justice and law among nations.

7. We believe in the present and final triumph of God in human affairs, and affirm that the world is our parish.