A network of Christian groups that minister to homosexuals says the United Church of Christ’s decision to endorse same-sex marriage lacks a truly compassionate approach to the issue.

Yesterday, the rule-making body of the 1.3 million-member denomination voted to endorse same-sex marriage, making it the largest Christian denomination to do so.

About 80 percent of the representatives on the church’s 884-member General Synod approved the resolution, which calls on members to consider wedding policies “that do not discriminate against couples based on gender.”

It also asks churches to back legislation promoting same-sex marriage.

The evangelical network Exodus International believes churches must do more to reach out to homosexuals who feel alienated and excluded, but the United Church of Christ’s decision is not the answer.

“Embracing homosexual unions, but abandoning the very truth that could change lives may be politically correct, but it is not true compassion,” said Alan Chambers, a former homosexual who served as an associate pastor before becoming President of Exodus International.

“Homosexuals need to know they are welcome at their local church, but they also need to know that hundreds of thousands of us have found freedom from the isolation and emptiness we experienced in gay life through the power of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Chambers added, “Our existence as ex-gays is additional proof that homosexuality is not an immutable trait and therefore, marriage is not a civil right to be extended to any group of individuals who demand it. Preserving the public purpose of marriage sets a higher standard for future generations and defines its biblical intention to those who are confused and questioning their sexuality. As a former homosexual who is now happily married, I am grateful for the laws that protected and esteemed this life-preserving, authentic union.”

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