A number of retired United Methodist bishops are urging the United Methodist Church to change its anti-gay stance and accept gay people as they are. To that end, they’ve signed a petition (PDF) that’s worth reading. Yes, it talks a lot about “God’s grace,” but even though I don’t support their religious views, it’s good to see older Christians seeing the light regarding how horribly and unfairly their church has treated homosexuals over the years:
[W]e… believe The United Methodist Church should remove the following statement from The Book of Discipline (2008):
“…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.” ¶304.3
With this statement of conviction and counsel we seek:
- To affirm that the historic tests of “gifts and evidence of God’s grace” for ordained ministry override any past or present temporal restrictions such as race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
- To urge the Church, ecumenical and denominational, to change the manner in which it relates to gay, lesbian and transgendered persons in official statements, judicial proceedings, and in congregational life.
- To declare our conviction that the current disciplinary position of The United Methodist Church, a part of our historical development, need not, and should not, be embraced as the faithful position for the future.
- To make known our names and shared personal conviction on this matter and to encourage other church and Episcopal leaders to do the same.
36 retired bishops have signed this statement — that’s 42% of all retired bishops in the church.
The fact that some current bishops are staying true to their bigotry didn’t stop the others from signing the document:
“I think that it’s unfortunate that this group of bishops has stepped outside of the covenant relationship and find this the only way in which to voice their opinion about the issue of homosexuality,” Oklahoma Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr., said in an interview.
“This circumvents our way of handling difficult issues,” Hayes said. “I am very disappointed the bishops chose this way to make their opinions known.”
Which is what? Publicly? Honestly? With their real names? This is the type of actions more people in churches ought to be taking up. It doesn’t make their religion any more true, but it certainly makes their faith more inclusive.
Maybe young Evangelical Christians can learn a lesson in courage from these bishops. They certainly don’t have many role models in their own megachurches when it comes to fighting for equal rights for gay people.
(Thanks to Ryan for the link)