United Methodist Pastor Suspended For Officiating His Son’s Same-Sex Wedding

A United Methodist minister has been suspended from his position for presiding over a same-sex marriage back in 2007 — his son’s.

Rev. Frank Schaefer, the pastor at the Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Pennsylvania, officiated his son Tim Schaefer‘s wedding to another man in Massachusetts in 2007. Marriage equality had already been legalized in the state, but Methodist doctrine does not permit same-sex marriage (though it does allow LGBT people to worship in churches — gee, thanks).

Rev. Frank Schaefer (right) with his son Tim

Jon Boger, a naval officer who grew up in Schaefer’s church, heard about Schaefer’s actions earlier this year and filed a complaint with Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Bishop Peggy Johnson on April 2. According to the Lebanon Daily News:

Boger was born and raised in Lebanon and is a member of Zion United Methodist of Iona, where his parents were married. His mother, Deb, was the church’s choir director for more than 40 years before she and Schaefer had a dispute.

“It’s really irrelevant,” Boger said of his mother’s issues with Schaefer, which Boger said had led Schaefer “to request my mom’s termination.”

Hmm. Sounds to me like it might be relevant. But anyway.

Although he has been away from Lebanon County since joining the military after high school, Boger said, he has continued to attend worship services at Zion about once a year and for “life events,” like marriages and funerals.

Because of Schaefer’s decision to officiate at his son’s homosexual marriage ceremony and keep that event outside his congregation’s knowledge, “the past six years have been a lie, a broken covenant,” Boger said.

In spite of Boger’s accusation, Schaefer stood his ground.

Rather than beg for mercy Tuesday in the trial that has rekindled debate within the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination over church policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the pastor upped the stakes, telling jurors that he has been called by God to be an advocate for the rights of LGBT people.

The church “needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation,” he said. “We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.” 

Schaefer went to trial before a jury of 13 United Methodist Church ministers. This week he was charged with “conducting a ceremony that celebrates homosexual unions; and disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church,” and was suspended for 30 days. He will lose his credentials if he violates any church laws in that time.

Schaefer had previously testified that he performed his son’s 2007 wedding in Massachusetts out of love, not a desire to flout church teaching on homosexuality.

But Tuesday’s testimony made clear he has had a change of heart.

“I have to minister to those who hurt and that’s what I’m doing,” said Schaefer. 

According to NBC, members of Schaefer’s church have since left because they were disappointed that he had contradicted greater Methodist teachings. Some, like Boger, are advocating that he never work as a minister again. Rev. Paul Stallworth, the leader of a Methodist task force on sexuality and abortion, says he hopes the church will “openly rebuke” Schaefer to warn other pastors who are considering treating same-sex couples as, you know, equals.

But Schaefer wouldn’t budge, and when told that he had to pledge never to perform a same-sex marriage again, he refused.

Schaefer donned a rainbow-colored stole on the witness stand and told jurors it symbolized his commitment to the cause.

“I will never be silent again,” he said, as some of his supporters wept in the gallery. “This is what I have to do.”

If all Christians were like this, I would be a little more on board with Christianity as a force for good. There’s something seriously wrong when a religious group has to put on a big show about punishing one of their officials for treating people decently.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • A3Kr0n

    I quit the Methodist church the day I was confirmed in 1978.

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    There’s Methodist in their madness.

    • Roger Peritone

      I think you have it backwards: There’s madness in their methodists.

  • islandbrewer

    So the “United” part of the “United Methodist Church” means what, again?

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      It was formed when the Methodists settled differences between and unified organizations with the Evangelical United Brethren Church — each of those in turn unions of earlier factions.

    • Pepe

      United, mostly, in hatred?

  • Sven2547

    When your religion disowns you for being too compassionate, it says a lot about that religion.

    • The Starship Maxima

      Compassion =/= accommodation.

      • Sven2547

        Not always, but in this particular instance YES: they are one and the same.

        • The Starship Maxima

          How?

          • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

            In order for compassion not to equal accommodation there has to be a compelling, reality based reason.

            • The Starship Maxima

              True point Matt. The problem is what we consider reality. The fact you think my Holy Book is a myth means we’re starting from two different definitions of reality. And I don’t expect you to accept mine.

              It is a real and objective fact that since the Methodist Church is a Church and not a government agency they are not obligated to tolerate gay marriage.

              • Sven2547

                It is a real and objective fact that since the Methodist Church is a Church and not a government agency they are not obligated to tolerate gay marriage.

                Not LEGALLY obligated.
                Ethically and logically, on the other hand…

      • Roger Peritone

        The idiots in the link I posted sure seem to have their priorities straight when it comes to “accommodation”! Tell me that what the guy in the link said isn’t chilling.

  • Nick Kaehler

    My Brother-In-Law is a UMC pastor, and I find it hilarious when he posts on facebook about “God is love*”
    *Except for those filthy filthy homosexuals

  • Miss_Beara

    Rev Schaefer loves his son more than some outdated and hateful church doctrine. More people in the church should strive to be like the rev.

    And, there is a task force against sexuality and abortion? Come to think of it, every religion does. They sure love their need to control strangers.

    • Roger Peritone

      Here we go: “Miss_Beara” has the right of it.

  • Lina Baker

    Have so many, many Methodist friends, and all but one supported Schaefer – even the Methodist ministers across the street from me supported him. But Methodist Churches are ruled by a church hierarchy – they aren’t congregationalists. My prediction is that a lot of Methodists are now going to start checking out the United Church of Christ, Unitarians, and other “welcoming” churches. Let the exodus begin….

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

      i got into trouble at the gay blog i read about this opinion, and i expanded upon the basic idea at work here. which is: i don’t think of him as particularly brave. maybe “the spirit moved him” (finally) and yeah, that’s great. i hope he can do the impossible and change the whole church’s doctrine on this issue. i doubt he will.

      my critique stems from the fact that this man was an employee, and leader, in this organization. he could not not have known the church is not accepting of gay marriage.

      methodists, like a lot of religions, have to take an oath and proclaim, swearing to “god” (the holiest and mightiest of oaths, if you’re a believer) endorsing and affirming church creed. if you’re an officiant in the church, you do even more than that.

      so what gives? what does he no longer believe, but that still qualifies him as being a “methodist?” apparently, this teaching on gay marriage. but for years, he endorsed it, simply by doing his job. i call that hypocrisy, if he truly loves his gay son and other homosexuals.

      i’m all for “better late than never,” but i predict that if he is now sincere in believing he has to fight this battle, he’ll be working for a different church soon. and while this is merely conjecture, i will point out that larger mainline churches pay a lot better (i looked it up) than smaller fractional ones. i’m not saying this is what motivated him to stay despite having several gay children, but it is possible.

  • Connie Jo Ozinga

    The Reformed Church in America (“Dutch reformed”) did this to someone a couple of years ago. He was defrocked and fired from his job as seminary president for going to Massachusetts to conduct the marriage ceremony for his daughter’s lesbian marriage.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Camille Beredjick and all you people here saying “why can’t all Christians be like this? We’d like them more if they were like this!” I say this to all of you.

    I think the current “accommodate at all costs”, “go along get along” culture makes you forget that their are limits to your entitlement. The Methodist Church has every right, like any other organization to decide what they will or won’t endorse. The Methodist Church does not endorse gay marriage. They don’t have to. The Methodist Church, to my knowledge, does not endorse divorce, or abortion, or bigamy, or pre-marital sex.

    And know this Camille, not all of us Christians CARE if you do or don’t like us. Many of us want to be like by our co-workers, friends, family, and society over all, but not at the expense of denying our own personal beliefs.

    I never cease to be amazed at the hypocrisy of people who run this tired meme of Christians out to dominate and rule their lives, but then act shocked SHOCKED! I say, when a Church says “It’s good you decided to jump on this bandwagon, however WE have not, and if you want to be a minister in OUR Church, then yes, you’ll do things OUR way.”

    I don’t know Pastor Schaefer to know his motives. I don’t know if the allure of looking like a Maverick standing tall before the hostile townfolk spurred this decision, or if he’s a good man who thinks he’s doing God’s will. It’s irrelevant.

    Schaefer took his stand. And the Methodists took theirs. Their are only evil monsters and Schaefers a good old boy in your narrative simply because one agrees with you and the other doesn’t.

    I admire the ability of the atheist and LGBT communities to stand their ground and refuse to be fake to themselves for the sake of others’ sensibilities. But then you’d better believe we’ll do the same.

    We’ll change our doctrine because we had it wrong. We’ll change because we come to understand it better. We will NEVER change it so that a columnist for Friendly Atheist can consider us a “greater force for good”. We’re already that. And we will continue to be.

    • The Starship Maxima

      I “give a shit” if I’m liked. I’m a human being sharing the world with other human beings. Of course I want to be liked. I want to be liked by you.

      If your terms for liking me include “Have no personal (emphasis on personal) viewpoint I don’t approve of,” I’m going to say “It looks like you won’t like me then. I won’t relish it. I won’t like it. But I WILL accept it.

      • Oswald Carnes

        Fuck you and your church.

        • The Starship Maxima

          Okay.

    • Sven2547

      The Methodist Church has every right, like any other organization to decide what they will or won’t endorse. The Methodist Church does not endorse gay marriage. They don’t have to.

      Nobody is contesting these things. You are badly missing the point.

      They have every right to be douchebags. And we have every right to call them what they are: douchebags. Nobody’s calling for the lawful abolition of douchbaggery.

      • The Starship Maxima

        I didn’t think anybody here was calling for the “outlawing” of “douchebaggery”. I am pointing the hypocrisy of wanting the Church to leave you alone to do as you please, and then conveniently forgetting that every fence is a TWO-WAY fence.

        • Sven2547

          It’s not hypocritical to want the church to leave you alone, and to also want the church to grow up and treat people as equals.

          The real hypocrites are the ones who fight to ban marriage equality (trampling on the religious Free Exercise of millions of Americans)… and then act monstrously in the name of religious “freedom”.

          • The Starship Maxima

            @Claire and Sven – This is true. The Church has a long and filthy history of trying to use the Bible to try and force others to play by their rules; in direct contravention of the most basic themes of the Bible.

            Me calling out people who think they are entitled to have the Methodist Church “treat people as equals” as they see fit, does nothing to erase the absolute horror the Church has wreaked upon the innocent.

        • Claire

          The two-way fence ceases to be one when your version of “doing as you please” involves trying to deny or take away the rights of other people. Atheists complaining on the internet is nothing compared to all the outlawing that churches attempt to do when they disagree with something.

          edit: you’ll notice also that none of us are calling for this guy’s reinstatement despite disagreeing with the reasons behind him being fired.

    • guest

      At least people are finally realizing that Christianity is a complete farce and Jesus is myth. We don’t care if you acknowledge that or not.

    • toth

      By all means, keep loudly being disgusting bigots. It’ll make the demise of your church that much more speedy.

      • The Starship Maxima

        Your use of the word bigot demonstrates that like many you have little idea what it means.

        But yes, we will keep standing for our personal faith and values. And we’ll only get stronger for it.

        • guest

          Thankfully future generations will be mentally immune from Christ-insanity.

          • The Starship Maxima

            We’ve been hearing that for over 2000 years.

            • guest

              Information aka the internet wasn’t available easily before.

              • The Starship Maxima

                True. Very true. But then if being fed to lions didn’t stop us I don’t think the internet will either. In fact, it just might work in our favor.

                But we’ll see, won’t we.

        • toth

          Of course, you’re free to believe that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Hell, you’re already doing that with your belief in God, so why stop there?

    • Buckley

      Godwin’s Law, except I will call it Buckley’s Law…anytime you start an argument with “…you people…” renders all that follows as moot.

      • The Starship Maxima

        (thinking) You have a point on that one.

      • Pseudonym

        Pseudonym’s Law is similar, but it applies to arguments that start with “speaking as a.”.

    • ohnugget001

      Your “accommodate at all costs”, is
      our “treating people equally.” What you call “entitlement” is nothing more than
      “equal rights.” Your bigoted, Christian privilege is visible in your claim
      that;

      “The Methodist Church
      has every right, like any other organization to decide what they will or won’t
      endorse. The Methodist
      Church does not endorse
      gay marriage. They don’t have to.”

      You are correct. And along with their right
      to do so comes my right to ridicule the position of an organization whose
      inspiration (Jesus) calls upon you to “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “the
      greatest of these (new commandments) is love” and yet fails so miserably to do
      so. These Methodists, and presumably you, put OT scripture ahead of human
      rights. Think about that position for a moment. I dare you. Your scripture, the
      love part of which you can’t even follow correctly, is more important to you
      than treating someone equally or, gasp!, like you would wish to be treated.

      Here’s the perfect example from your own
      post:

      “”It’s good you decided to jump
      on this bandwagon, however WE have not, and if you want to be a minister in OUR
      Church, then yes, you’ll do things OUR way.”

      It’s “good” but we refuse to do it = an admission that
      equality is a better position but they refuse to hold it.

      And finally,

      “We will NEVER change it
      so that a columnist for Friendly Atheist can consider us a “greater force
      for good”. We’re already that. And we will continue to be.”

      No, you’re not a “force for good.” You’re a source of bigotry, self-hatred, misogyny,
      and many other things that are wrong in this world including the worst one
      which places greater emphasis on a failed epistemology of faith instead of that
      derived from evidence and reason.

      Face it Maxima, your ad hom style attacks are only going to
      bring a barrage of well reasoned responses that will shred your worldview – and
      you deserve because you brought it on yourself for posting your bigoted drivel
      here. But maybe this is a teachable moment for you.

      • The Starship Maxima

        There was nothing ad hom about my statement. And while it did bring a barrage of statements, most of them well reasoned, many, like yours, are nothing more than outrage trying to pass itself off some kind of logic.

        If your reading comprehension skills were a bit more sound, then you’d see my statement is an admission of nothing. It is a good thing that people decide to stand up for what they believe. I admire a pro-choicer voicing their belief. Abortion is still the destruction of human life, my respect for their opinion doesn’t change that fact.

        Now to correct your biggest logic failure…equality means just that, equality. You are entitled to the same treatment as anyone else, not MORE or less. Schaefer’s son and his husband have the right to get married. Neither they, nor his father, have the right to expect to expect a Church to cater to or tolerate that act.

        And while you do have the right to get on a soapbox and attack me, I have the right to use logic and reason to shred your hypocrisy all day. The fact that there are people who’ll downvote my response and upvote yours because they agree with you doesn’t impress me in the least.

        • Buckley

          I agree that the Church has the right to fire him for violation the “terms of employment” as it were. I take issue with the fact that they pick and choose what parts of the bible they defend as being important and those that they simply cast aside because “Jesus bridged…”

          As for abortion being right or wrong, it all depends on when life can be sustained (my definition) and where life begins (a christian) and because we cannot agree on when and how life begins/sustained independently outside of the mother, then we cannot agree that abortion is “The destruction of human life”.

          “…my respect for their opinion doesn’t change that fact.” That’s a problem since we don’t agree on the facts and most christian facts are fiction.

          • The Starship Maxima

            Now see Buckley, with you I can have a dialogue. Yes, we can sit down and argue about what parts are important. We can discuss where our points of divergence are. And we can find where we might meet in the middle.

            But I’m too old be impressed with someone huffing and puffing and trying to be an internet tough guy, and backing it up with little in the way of facts.

          • The Starship Maxima

            Off topic, but, science pretty clearly says the life cycle of any mammal begins when the mammal egg is fertilized by a compatible sperm.

            That’s not Christianity, that’s biology.

            • Buckley

              I’m a historian not a biologist, but until a self-dividing mass of cells or a fetus can live sustained outside the womb with out extra medical help, I will have disagree about “life”.

    • Buckley

      “We’ll change our doctrine because we had it wrong. We’ll change because we come to understand it better. We will NEVER change it so that a columnist for Friendly Atheist can consider us a “greater force for good. We’re already that. And we will continue to be.”

      Funny, in the 1850′s the Methodist Church did change it’s doctrine because of outside pressure (abolitionists)…that’s why they split into 2 and came back together as “United”. Keep defending your mythology.

    • Neko

      I don’t know Pastor Schaefer to know his motives. I don’t know if the allure of looking like a Maverick standing tall before the hostile townfolk spurred this decision, or if he’s a good man who thinks he’s doing God’s will. It’s irrelevant.

      I would think for a Christian it’s quite relevant. Jesus was scathing toward hypocrites. Affecting disinterest while speculating out loud about a person’s motivations, for instance.

      • The Starship Maxima

        I affect nothing. Try reading it again and this time don’t cherry-pick or bring your personal bias into it.

        My statement was, regardless of Schaefer’s motives, and my opinion on said motives, the Church has a right to say “We don’t do that here, and you won’t either if you hope to be in a leadership position in this Church.”

        • Neko

          I don’t see why your effort to create suspicion of Pastor Schaefer’s motives (though you admit you don’t even know the man), and your defense of the Church’s right to enforce its position on gay marriage, are mutually exclusive issues.

          In fact, instead of an anomaly, your statements here reflect the tenor of your remarks overall, which are generous toward a religious authority unsympathetic to a pastor’s act of love toward his son. The greatest of these is love.

          • The Starship Maxima

            I have considered your post and decided that you are correct in what you say about the tenor of my comments.

            I brought my past dealings with other anti-Christians into this and let it color my reaction. I was wrong.

            The point is that Schaefer, by all appearances, believes he did and is doing the right thing, but I support the Church’s right to expect it’s ministers to follow their doctrine.

            It was wrong to offhandedly suggest he was doing it merely to fulfill a brave hero complex.

            Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.

            • Neko

              Oh! That was gracious. Thank you.

              By the way, I’m an atheist strongly opposed to certain aspects of the Christian tradition that I consider harmful. But I’m not anti-Christian.

    • kaydenpat

      Do you believe that one day the Methodist church will embrace its gay members fully and support marriage equality? Churches evolve all the time. Look at how some churches viewed African Americans in the 60s (and for Mormons into the 70s). I believe the Southern Baptists just recently apologized for its position on civil rights issues.

      Mr. Schaefer is on the right side of history.

  • KMR

    The guy had a job and was paid by his parishioners to do that job which is outlined by his chosen denomination. He didn’t do the job. I congratulate him and think it’s fantastic that he chose to flout the rules because he feels the rules are wrong. I think he’s right and I hope his decision to follow his conscience instead of his church’s rules causes others to think and reevaluate what they believe. However, if his church wants to fire him due to his not doing what they consider his job, that is certainly their prerogative. He knew the rules going in.

    • Sven2547

      He didn’t do the job.

      Doing other things in addition to one’s job is not necessarily a failure to do one’s job.

      • The Starship Maxima

        In any organization, from the United States government to the United Methodist Church, there are limits as to how much you can change the job description.

        Tweaking it to get the job done is generally considered a prerogative. Deciding you don’t have to follow the rules is not. Not even under the guise of conscience.

        That’s why Ed Snowden is wanted for treason and Rev. Schaefer got fired.

    • Pseudonym

      Christianity has a word for people who go against the church in a way that’s vindicated by history. The word is “saint”.

  • Buckley

    I know the Rev. can’t fight every fight, but on the stand it would have been excellent for the future if he could have cross examined his accusers and asked them why *they* weren’t sinning when *they* weren’t clearly upholding ALL levels of Leviticus. It would have been great if they could defend how they pick and choose what they decide to focus in on for attack

    • The Starship Maxima

      Ah, the Levitican code argument. Several parts of the Levitican code, notably the stuff about fibers, meats, and such, were rendered moot when Jesus bridged the divide between Jew and Gentile.

      However, ALL sexual conduct sins are STILL sexual conduct sins. This includes sleeping with a married woman, sleeping with a girlfriend you’re not married to, getting a divorce, and so on.

      • WhatTheWhat

        I guess you missed the “till heaven and earth pass away” part.

        Or in other words, they still apply based on your bible. I recommend you actually read it.

        • guest

          Cognitive dissonance makes the religious ignore all of that it seems.

          • The Starship Maxima

            Cognitive dissonance and willful ignorance doesn’t seem to be limited to the religious, apparently.

            • guest

              Tell that to the over 31,000 sects of your christian cult.

              • The Starship Maxima

                I usually do.

                • guest

                  Yet your cult keeps screwing around with GLBT rights, gee I wonder why…

                • The Starship Maxima

                  They screw around with LGBT rights because many of us have been misled by our own arrogance and a lack of reading the Bible itself. I don’t deny that.

                • ohnugget001

                  Are you for or against marriage equality? Take a position.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  You don’t have to tell me to take a position. I have been for gay marriage civil rights and gay rights overall for over 10 years.

                  I loathe divorce and pre-marital sex, but I’d never support any law trying to make either a civil offense.

                • ohnugget001

                  How can you reconcile homosexual acts = good but premarital sex = bad

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I think you misunderstood. To me premarital sex, homosexual acts, divorce, abortion, etc all = bad.

                  But. Starship Maxima DOES NOT = God. It is God’s place to judge the people who do those things as HE alone sees fit.

                  As a mere mortal with a long list of failures and sins, I am not fit to judge. And I won’t. It’s my job to treat my fellow man, be he atheist, gay, Catholic, vegan, whatever with the same respect I’d want. That’s actually part of the first and greatest commandment.

                  So since I want to be paid the same, eat at the same restaurants, get the same health benefits as anybody else regardless of how stupid you think my religion is, so to I am obligated to ensure others are treated the same.

                • guest

                  But sadly your cult thinks otherwise and has voting power.

                • ohnugget001

                  Atheism is hardly a cult. Christianity is the death cult in this discussion.
                  So if you believe all should be treated equally, why defend the Methodists or anyone else who refuses equality?

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Everyone is entitled to equal “civil” rights. The Methodists are not a government agency. They have as much right to their viewpoint and rules, as I have to mine.

                  If an Episcopalian minister refused to perform a gay marriage, in clear violation of the current Episcopalian policy, I’d likewise say he/she ain’t no hero standing up to the Man, they’re insubordinate and the Episcopalians have every right to shitcan them.

                • Rationalist1

                  The religious authorities have every legal right to fire the pastor. Moral right is another issue. It’s too bad about him and his son, but it helps demonstrate what the Methodist are truly like.

                • guest

                  I think you’re confusing me with Maxima.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  (Sigh) Sadly yes. The majority of “my cult” are too busy paying bills and trying to make through the day and trying to be slightly more decent people to give a shit about a guy fucking guys.

                  But…..some people have let their arrogance carry them away and others are merely opportunists who co opt the words because they can.

                  We’re oppose them, but damn, the bad guys are tenacious.

                • guest

                  Wouldn’t that make pro-GLBT Christians as hypocrites?
                  You know how Mythological Jesus dislikes hypocrites.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Jesus deeply abhorred hypocrites. He would have choice words for the clowns who don’t want gays to adopt, but meanwhile alleged God-fearing parents constantly throw their children out of their homes.

                  SMFH. May God have mercy on us all.

                • guest

                  According to the big book of Mediterranean myths your god hates homosexuals. Hey it’s your gods rules not ours.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  MY God sent his one and only Son to die to save all of us because he loved us all that much. Gay or straight means as little to him as brunette or redhead.

                • guest

                  You really haven’t read the bible have you?
                  Yahweh/Jesus is an egocentric sociopath and has been nothing but trouble since Christianity was invented.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  What?! Lol.

                • Glasofruix

                  Yep, all of that “I Bring the sword, not peace”, “Leave your folks and follow me”, “Fuck you i lie if i want to (paraphrasing a little)”. Oh yes, and the loving god who drowned everyone just to watch a family fuck each other on the top of a mountain….
                  Also, the apparently omniscient and omnipotent god had to impregnate a woman with himself in order to sacrifice himself to himself so he could appease his own anger, totally makes sense after some “burning bush seeing shrooms”….

        • The Starship Maxima

          I have, carefully. And, perhaps differently from you, I don’t take verses out of context.

          • WhatTheWhat

            Nice try.

            “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

            Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

            • The Starship Maxima

              Would this be the same Jesus who kept the Pharisees (famous for the rules lawyering) from stoning a woman caught in adultery, which was a clear violation of the Old Law??

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                You mean the Bible is contradictory and can be used to support any position you happen to personally hold because it has verses pointing in every which way?

                Say it ain’t so!

                • The Starship Maxima

                  You mean the Bible takes on a different meaning when read in full and not chopped up and cherry-picked?

                  No! :)

                • guest

                  That’s why it belongs in the mythogy section.
                  Even though fundies are going nuts about that Costco incident…

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Fundies aren’t known for rational thought and mature conduct, though.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I have read it in full. It is not a comprehensive whole. Please do tell me why your parable (about the stoning) should override the verses about the law still being in effect, and why someone couldn’t use those exact same arguments just reversed.

                  Furthermore, don’t you think that using that parable was a bad idea, given that you have elsewhere said that all the rules about sexual immorality are still in place? The law says adultery is punishable by death; if all the sexual immorality laws are still in place from Leviticus, then surely you think she should have been stoned as described in Leviticus.

                • Buckley

                  Which is the point I made further up in the chain…and Starchild has failed to address…I have great deal of respect for the religious who follow (or at least try’s to follow) every law in the religion as best as they can. My Bull Shit Alarm sounds loud when Starchild fails to explain why it’s OK to pick and choose.

              • Neko

                Starship: The Woman Taken in Adultery may have been a late addition to John. Its authenticity is contested.

      • Buckley

        That’s OK, keep defending your hatred like the slave owners of old did. Pick and choose what is and is not a sin…Jesus bridged this, Jesus bridged that…the fact that you defend your hatred based on a work of fiction and a mythical individual is pathetic…if this in fact what you believe.

        • The Starship Maxima

          I defend the right to believe in the Bible as I see it as well as your right to keep your rather inaccurate opinion of it.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Really? Where does it say that? Oh right, never. It never says that.

        Besides, divorce is totally legit in the OT. It’s only the NT that says divorce is evil-bad-wrong-never. That’s new laws.

        • The Starship Maxima

          Divorce is allowed in the case of infidelity only. Everything else is stated at least 5 times each. A simple Google search will provide the appropriate verses.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Nope, sorry, not the way it works. You find me the verses. I don’t do your work for you.

            Jews have divorces for many reasons other than infidelity. It’s only Christians who restrict it to infidelity, and even then that’s not an NT reason for divorce. Divorce is never, but it was decided for practical reasons to allow it for infidelity. Still, not following the rules your god gave you: tsk tsk.

          • Rationalist1

            I assume you’re referring to the Matthjean exception clause, where it says except for “porneia”. While the ethics of not allowing divorce in a physically abusive situation is not in my morality but in fact porneia refers to an illicit sexual relation. Do what the writer in Matthew was saying is that divorce is not permitted except in the case where the marriage is an illicit marriage.

            • The Starship Maxima

              I was referring to Paul who reinforced Moses’s decree that if the man or woman cheats, the other is free to leave. But, I will review the one you’re talking about.

              • Rationalist1

                I’m not sure your reference. Do you refer to this? “To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord): a wife should not separate from her husband — and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband — and a husband should not divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10-16)

                Or the subsequent verses that comprise the so called Pauline Privilege with marriages between believers and non believers?

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Actually, upon review, I was referring to the Matthew verses, which in every translation I’ve seen mean cheating. Research on the subject suggests that’s also what the word meant.

                • Rationalist1

                  Porneia is where we get our words pornography and prostitute. In the NT marriage was described as absolute, divorce not allowed except in these tow situations, a marriage between a believer and a non believer or the Matthean privilege which means illicit marriage such as involving prostitution, typically cult prostitution. This is not a real marriage so of course divorce is permitable. If the writers had wished to single out adultery from all the other reasons to divorce they would have used the Greek word moicheia.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Again, while what you say has a lot of logic in it, not a single translation makes that distinction. Further to the point, people who have studied the Bible have come to same conclusion.

                  I’d need a bit more to accept it as fact that that was not the Bible meant.

                  However, as an exercise, we will proceed as if this is the case, and even in the case of adultery, divorce is still not allowed. This doesn’t change the fact that a Church has a right to call something wrong, or right, to their own beliefs and are not obligated to change it to appease others.

                • Rationalist1

                  No as a Christian you are obligated to follow the Bible, not to change it to fit human expediencies. That is why, except for adultery, was an accepted translation for many English Bibles and why for years in law, if a person wanted to divorce their wife they had to commit adultery in order to have the divorce permitted. I’d be willing to bet that this Methodist board would have had no trouble having his father being a celebrant at a second (or higher) heterosexual remarriage for his son but not for a homosexual marriage.

                • Pseudonym

                  No as a Christian you are obligated to follow the Bible [...]

                  That’s not true of Methodism.

                • Buckley

                  You know what you are right “a Church has a right to call something wrong, or right, to their own beliefs and are not obligated to change it to appease others.”

                  I guess I can’t fathom why anyone wants to be associated with such nonsense. Weak I guess? Can’t figure some people out.

          • The Starship Maxima

            I will comment as regularly as I like, as will you.

            If that is what your husband did to you, I am truly sorry. Even if he didn’t, that’s a horrific thing to even think of.

            The Bible is not known for it’s accomodating rules. As far as I know, the Bible would EXPECT you to leave. But then you and he wouldn’t be allowed to remarry.

            Yes, that sucks. I never said Christianity was fun. It ain’t.

            • Buckley

              Which is why it’s a myth…reality is so very different isn’t it?

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Wait a minute. Wait a bloody fucking minute.

              Are you actually telling me you think Tainda should have been tied to her abusive ex-husband because Jesus?

              And no, the Bible doesn’t expect you to leave. The Bible explicitly tells you to stay. That’s because the Bible was written 2,000+ years ago by patriarchal assholes who treated women as chattel property. If Christianity argues that abused people are morally obligated to stay tied to abusive spouses, Christianity is immoral, cruel, and wrong. How could you possibly stay in it?

            • Glasofruix

              In the bible rapists are allowed to marry their victim as punishement….for the victim. Or is it another metaphor or “we’re not following that one because NT”?

            • freemage

              Note that upthread, Starship Maxima implies that the Church is compassionate even when they’re refusing accommodation. If this post is an example of that compassion, then your empathy-meter needs a little recalibration, Maxima.

      • ohnugget001

        I refuse to accept the concept of sin to begin with. You’re arguing sexual acts as sin with people who don’t accept that worldview. No god, ergo, no sin.

        • The Starship Maxima

          I wouldn’t do that. It’s not fair to force others to see things as sins because I do.

          • guest

            But the religious are getting desperate because people are noticing that “sin” is just made up to sell a fake product.

            • ohnugget001

              Er… What? That’s MY position. If sin is a fabricated concept to sell redemption vis a vis (insert religion here), then why are you even a Christian? You don’t need salvation through Christ if their is no sin, especially original sin.

              • guest

                I don’t even give a flying hoot about mythological Jesus and his supposed “sacrifice” for our “salvation”. It’s all an ancient game of telephone gone wrong.

                • ohnugget001

                  I get the feeling there are two people posting as The Starship Maxima or the person who owns that screenname has multiple personalities.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I get the feeling some people grasp the concept of a nuanced worldview that takes many variables into consideration. And some….don’t.

                • ohnugget001

                  No. Seriously. I think there are two people using that screenname. One blatantly says sin is “just made up” and the next one says “I think sin is real.” Either there are two or Maxima is… I don’t know what. Trolling? Bipolar?

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Neither trolling nor bipolar. I do, however, question your reading comprehension skills, as I clearly addressed that seeming contradiction.

                  I don’t force anyone else to acknowledge my own personal definition of sin. My concept of sin is separate from objective facts we can all agree on.

                • ohnugget001

                  I think there are two and you don’t recognize it. Reread the thread. You’ll plainly see what I am talking about. And someone posting under your screenname even agrees with me in my most recent post – and the person agreeing with me is The Starship Maxima. I’m not messing with you Starship.

                • The Starshpi Maxima

                  Since I’m responding to a bunch of posts, I get to scroll through a lot of them. All the ones under “The Starship Maxima” were written by me.

                  I did not say sin is made up, or at least, I didn’t mean to. I wanted to say that in the context of a discussion of personal beliefs, I will say I think sin is real. I acknowledge that I cannot approach the discussion the same way when dealing with commenters on a site called Friendly Atheist, who don’t accept that belief.

                  In other words, I acknowledge a difference between “fact” and “fact for me”.

                  To me Tom Brady is a vastly overrated QB. That’s a fact according to Starship. Brady has three SB rings. That is an objective that can be verified by anyone.

                • ohnugget001

                  I don’t know what to make of the duality of what you have posted in this thread, so I will simply leave the conversation. I will also acknowledge that it difficult to have a reasonable conversation when we can’t even agree what a fact is. In the real world, a fact is a fact to me, you, and everyone else whether we like it or not. You calling something a fact, as in your example with Tom Brady, is not a fact. If you cannot realize that that is an opinion, perhaps even one you hold dearly and use to make decisions upon as if it were a fact, then I’m unclear how to bridge that gap. Suddenly the resurrection becomes fact to you when there is no compelling evidence it occurred. Or original sin is real because there was a literal Adam and Eve to make it so. If we can’t agree on what is fact and what constitutes evidence, then I don’t see how we can have a productive conversation. Best wishes. Bye.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Perhaps I could’ve used the word opinion. True. But then, of course, I’m going to live my life and make decisions based on my personal opinions/beliefs.

                  All I said, and have been saying for what feels like a year, is that I am aware that there are limits to how much I can act on my personal beliefs.

                  I can say gay marriage is a sin. I cannot harass, bully, or demean a gay spouse or their partner.

                • Mario Strada

                  Guys, often this system mixes up the authors of some posts, especially when “gusts” accounts are present. It could be you are both right. Not saying that’s the case but cut each other some slack and wait a bit since it usually clears up with time.

                • guest

                  Yes or discus is acting up again. :P

              • The Starship Maxima

                You mistake me saying “I respect your right to believe the entire thing is a farce” for “I too believe it.”

                I think sin is real. I think I am a sinner like every other person born on the planet called Earth. I believe I need forgiveness and I believe I have to spend the rest of my life trying to do better.

                I don’t expect you to see it as I do.

      • blasphemous_kansan

        OOh!! I know the answer to this one!!!

        “False.”

      • EdmondWherever

        Yes, it’s a good thing Jesus finally came down and told the people it was totes cool to work on the Sabbath. I’m sure he was like, What? KILL someone for it? For picking up FIREWOOD? Where did you get THAT wild idea?

      • freemage

        So the United Methodist Church doesn’t grant divorces or allow remarriage of divorced individuals?

      • kaydenpat

        I’m sure you realize that not all Christians agree with your claim that the Leviticus commands are moot, right?

  • Rationalist1

    Maybe it’s time that pastor found another denomination or better still ….

    • guest

      And realize that it’s just an ancient game of telephone gone wrong.

    • Pseudonym

      Or maybe he should keep pushing for reform from within.

      • Pepe

        Well from the article, I doubt reform from within has any real chance.

  • Matt Davis

    I don’t get it. He conducted the ceremony in a different church, in a different state, and it had nothing to do with his own church. How can his own church leadership have a leg to stand on? This is dangerously close to policing what he does in his spare time, AWAY from his church.

    • Buckley

      I’ve thought about that. The other thing (and I’m not gay so i can’t answer this)…why if you are gay would you even still want to be associated with a religion that has rules against you? I haven’t wrapped my brain around the “Gay Christian” person.

      • Rationalist1

        More and more are choosing not to, especially after cases like this.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

          so true. the gay blogs i read are as atheist and proud as this one is, mostly. gay believers rarely try to defend their faiths on threads like this one. they know better. heh.

          but yeah, our community woke up a while ago, and that process is only accelerating.

          • Pseudonym

            gay believers rarely try to defend their faiths on threads like this one. they know better. heh.

            CD, I normally love your comments here, but I found this one just… wrong. I can’t believe that you find the gay community verbally attacking a gay person funny.

            Admittedly, it could have left a bad taste in my mouth because of my personal experience. One of my closest friends at university was (well, still is!) transgendered and lesbian, and she got a lot of grief from both communities for it. Admittedly, this was 20 years ago, but it shattered any illusion I may have had that the gay community was beyond bigotry.

            That there is a de facto “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule for gay Christians from both the Christian community and the gay community is as unsurprising as it is sad.

      • kaydenpat

        Well, despite the Mormon church’s historical anti-Black stance, there were Black Mormons. The majority of Americans are Christians and I guess that would include some gay Americans.

    • KMR

      That’s what churches do especially when you’re a pastor. They consider a pastor their representation to the world and if the pastor is doing something they don’t approve of they will terminate his/her employment. Pastoring is a crap job. I have no idea why some people are attracted to the position but all know going in that it’s an around the clock job.

    • Glasofruix

      It’s the same with morality clauses, your boss can fire you for any reason as long as it justifies the “morality” part, in the US at least, in europe those are illegal.

  • ktorch

    I
    guess the Methodist Bishop might consider suspending God almighty because he
    instructed the world to be flat, built on four marble pillars and someone
    screwed up and made it a sphere instead! OH MY, what’s happening to “GOD’s”
    creation? The stars and planets are also big ball like objects as well, some
    are millions of light year away. Looks like we have a time table problem
    as well. Don’t forget Mr. Bishop you are forbidden to accept usury (interest)
    or charge it as well. Looks like there are many more important things going on
    here than two people loving each other. No wonder the churches are losing
    their youth by the millions each year, your logic commands
    it.

  • Svelaz

    What his church failed miserably at recognizing the one tenet that trumps all others according to Christians…The man showed love for his son and nothing else mattered. The church should be ashamed of what it is doing. He did EXACTLY what God would have done if it existed in the first place. Unconditional love. It seems the whole church needs a refresher course in Christianity.

  • RevB

    He was not put on trial for “treating folks decently” he was put on trial for violating church law. Without law, we have chaos. If a law is unjust – change the law. But if you decide to break it then accept the consequences.

  • Aspieguy

    For those who have been part of the United Methodist Church as I have, you know that the denomination is divided into two camps: the Reconciling Movement which is dedicated to LGBT inclusion and the Confessing Movement dedicated to exclusion of LGBT expression. The reconciling pastors and lay members have worked tirelessly to end LGBT exclusion among the clergy in each 4 year general conference. The UMC essentially does not want a church split a la Episcopal Church. I wish I could say that the reconciling movement will grow, but the UMC is tending to become more conservative as a whole.

    • allein

      I was raised Methodist and I’m kind of glad to be able to say my religious upbringing was so benign that I don’t know these kinds of things. Also made walking away pretty darn easy (it was more like drifting away). My mother is still a member but I doubt she knows these things either (I don’t even know which side she would be on, to be honest).

      • Aspieguy

        When I joined the UMC a few years ago, I studied obsessively about the history of Methodism and the life of John Wesley. I was shocked, I tell you shocked, that nearly all the church members didn’t know who John Wesley was, that the UMC had been called the Methodist Church after 1939, and the United Methodist Church after 1968. Christians don’t choose churches for their doctrines and theology. They choose based on which ones have the best children’s programs, the best youth program, or just because the people are “nice”. Shallow and pathetic.

        • allein

          I honestly don’t know why my parents chose the church they did; I just remember that people were nice there and the minister was pretty cool. I don’t even know how they were raised when it comes to religion. It’s not really a topic that comes up. I should ask them…

  • BradGunnerSGT

    My (chilling) takeaway from this story is the fact that rather than phrasing this particular story in the terms that have been used in the past, they have been using words like “trial” and “court” and “convicted”.

    In the past, the news article would have been something like this: “A council of the top Pastors in the nation’s largest Methodist denomination met to officially reprimand Rev. Schafer for officiating his son’s gay marriage. The council suspended Rev. Schafer for one year.”.

    This time, every news source I’ve seen has couched it using something like this: “Rev Schafer was convicted of breaking church law in a trial held by the UM leadership. This court sentenced Schafer to a one-year suspension for officiating in his son’s gay marriage.”

    Now, the last time I looked, we only had one court system, and the Religious Right was all up in arms over the idea that Muslims would be bringing their own Sharia law here to the good ole US of A. Just the thought that Muslims would try to establish a parallel court system to enforce Sharia gives them apoplexy. Why aren’t they so up in arms about this “trial” in the UM “court”??

  • kaydenpat

    Hero.

  • Roger Peritone

    Ah yes, I thought I heard about this before…

    Yeesh.


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