The truth about the future of the United Methodist Church

The shipwrecked UMC
The UMC about to land on the rocks of dissent. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The truth about the future of the United Methodist Church? There is no future. It is as simple as that. 

There is no future.

I have been putting off writing this post for six months now, but it is time. I attended the 2016 General Conference as part of the United Methodist Reporter journalistic team. I watched, I listened, I conversed with others, I asked questions, I wrote both news stories about the events and my own internal responses to them as opinion pieces.

I saw the UMC nearly disintegrate during the second week of GC. Had the Bishops not stepped up when they did and offered to take all questions about human sexuality off the table to be addressed by a special commission, the UMC very likely would have dissolved then as the delegates were quickly approaching stalemate. Their action at least delayed the inevitable.

Here’s what I walked away with:

  • The conservative arm (Good News, now the WCA–the newly formed Wesleyan Covenant Association) have made it clear: there will be no opening of arms or softening of the Disciplinary language that is condemnatory toward those who do not fit the sexual binary.
  • The Reconciling Ministries side made it equally clear: they will continue to protest for as long as necessary until that discriminatory language is removed.
  • The conservative arm has made every effort possible to direct the African delegate votes. They created a detailed voting guide which was handed out at the pre-retreat for the African delegates, again funded by the Good News folks, that told them exactly how to vote on every single issue. I was shown a copy of that multiple page document: page after page of proposed legislation and instructions on whether to support it or deny it.
  • The African church indicates continued rapid growth, but the numbers are not verifiable. Because the five Annual Conferences in Africa will only start paying apportionments in 2017, there has been no incentive to keep their membership rolls clean. No one knows what their membership standards actually are or how local churches come up with their numbers.
  • However, because of the numbers reported, the combined Conservative/African churches will completely dominate the 2020 GC. The number of delegates apportioned to each area is calculated from membership numbers only.
  • At this point, the US churches fund 99% of the worldwide budget, including all support of the African churches.
  • At the 2020 GC, the African-conservative coalition will have adequate votes to take full control of the budget. In other words, the minimal contributors will be able to dictate how the approximately $600,000,000 quadrennial budget will be allocated.
  • That $600,000,000 comes primarily from the hands and pocketbooks of US givers, many of whom are in progressive, inclusive churches.

It’s not going to hold together. This is shipwreck in action.

I came into the UMC after years and years in hard-right Evangelicalism. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, I witnessed at close hand the hard-right takeover of the Southern Baptist Church. This movement parallels it nearly precisely. 

The hard-right of the UMC is determined to cleanse the UMC of heresy. Currently, heresy being focused on the possibility of grace and openness toward those born who do not fit the rigid “a man is a man and can only have romantic expression toward a woman and a woman is a woman and can only have romantic expression with a man” sexual binary. I genuinely have no idea what they do with the Jonathan and David stories in the Bible, but that is beside the point.

The line has been drawn for this battle. There will be more battles to come, with the next one more than likely forbidding ordination credentials to those who experienced divorce. But that’s a later battle with its own death and destruction component. The current one must first be played out fully first and there is only one possible outcome.

The UMC will have to dissolve.

The powerful history of this great denomination will soon be only a footnote in some dusty history book, never to be taken off a library shelf again. (yeah, I just dated myself there!).

Now, I think it is totally wrong for the US church to dictate to the African church that they must embrace alternate sexualities. Culturally, it just won’t fly, and the gospel will get lost for them with such a mandate. 

But this also goes the other way: it is totally wrong for the African church to dictate to the large percentage of moderate/progressive UMC churches how to deal with these complex sexual issues in our culture. In the US, Christianity in general is seen as repressive, nasty, and hateful. Our current Discipline-mandated-or-get-out attitudes toward the LGBTQI community reinforces those observations.

The gospel is rapidly getting lost in the US.

The train wreck accompanying the dissolution is going to be horrifying. Structurally, there is nearly no way to split the church or to separate the US/Progressive/Moderate churches from the Good News/my-way-or-the-highway-African churches. The complex interweavings of ownership of buildings, debt, pensions, election and appointments of Bishops and all the clergy who serve under them . . . this is kind of like trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act: take out one piece and the entire edifice crumbles.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: we’re going to have to blow it up. We’ll have to fire everyone (without a larger connectional system, there is no way to keep any agencies afloat), sell all the buildings (good luck with that one–better to gift them to local congregations but many will either split internally over the crisis or just slowly bleed to death from too many wounds), and do-God-knows-what with the billions invested in pension funds for clergy (both those already retired and the many who are near retirement and scarily dependent on those pensions to keep them afloat after a lifetime of sacrificial service).

As for the missions and ministries . . . as for the faithful laity who have invested their lives into their local ministries and trusted their souls to the teachings of the UMC . . . ? They will be part of the collateral damage done by the heresy hunters. It always happens. 

Many have asked, “What would John Wesley do?” I’m no Wesley expert, but I’ve certainly read his work and about his life extensively. He was an obsessive-compulsive man with problematic relationships with women and dictatorial attitudes toward his clergy and lay preachers. 

Wesley was also an organizational genius and who, ultimately above all, was driven by the desire to be a real Christian. Because of his primary motivation, I think he would have long walked away from our bloated bureaucracy “Christian” complacency and destructive in-fighting and started preaching in today’s equivalents of the streets again–more than likely with a strong online presence.

He would have continued to make the world his parish and fight hard against the kind of rules that keep the gospel from the people.

I love the UMC. I came in intentionally and with gratefulness and joy along with a strong sense of privilege that I was able to serve this church. I love the life here, the passion for being those who do feed the hungry and clothe the naked, who care for the sick and visit the prisoner. I respect and want the kind of connection where we’re not out on our own but can lean on one another; where we can be better in covenant community holding one another accountable than we can be as solo operators, accountable to no one.

I appreciate the messiness of the UMC, the challenges, the willingness to think, to explore, to acknowledge that we just don’t have all the answers but we can act on the ones we have.

I found my soul in our Catholic roots, our Book of Worship, our hymnals, the way we sing together.

But the Book of Discipline has become the Book of Punishment. Instead of laying out general ground rules on our connectional life that we exercise with the freedom to modify where context demands, it has become a prison of labyrinth mazes and contradictory rules and principles, shutting down life.

Jesus took the 613 laws set out in the Hebrew Bible and all the complexities that surrounded the practice of those laws and boiled them down. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Yeah, the working out of all that love is complex and itself contradictory and full of potholes and dead ends, BUT it is doable because it demands that we ask with every rule, every principle: am I indeed treating others in the same manner I myself wish to be treated?

All that, though, is now beside the point. Is there hope? Yes, if exceptionally creative minds coupled with an organizational genius that fits our current context can emerge with a restructuring plan that sets the UMC free again. Unfortunately, I suspect the very nature of our current organization and the embedded restrictions against substantive change make this hope unrealistic.

God is still with us. But the UMC ship, I fear, has now spring too many leaks, mostly caused by those on board shooting one another, not caring that the whole ship will soon crack up and sink.

 

 

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  • Robert Armstrong

    The fate of the United Methodist Church was settled by the rejection by the Annual Conferences of the proposal to separate the church in the United States from the worldwide UMC and the defeat of the proposal to allow jurisdictions to establish their own ordination standards. This last was defeated because those voting on it understood it would allow Jurisdictional conferences to vote to allow the ordination of gay pastors. Now that Annual Conferences have done so anyways and one Jurisdiction has ordained a gay bishop the problem is beyond hope of peaceful solution. The conservatives and the africans will never allow the Book of Discipline to be changed to allow the legal ordination of gays. The church in the United States simply can’t survive unless it does so. We are simply incapable of becoming a fully gay rejecting church. That niche in Christian church ecology here in the United States is already full. The problem is the United Methodist Church is far too much of an organic whole to break up easily. We are not the Episcopal Church. All local churches have clauses in their property titles stating the Annual Conference actually owns the property. And unlike the Episcopal Dioceses, which are actually independent of the national church and can withdraw at will from the Episcopal church in the United States, Annual Conferences are the creature of Jurisdictional Conferences which are in turn creatures of the General Conference. Once it becomes obvious there is no mechanism to punish Annual Conferences and Jurisdictions that openly defy the Book of Discipline concerning the ordination of gays, and thus no way to stop more Annual Conferences and Jurisdictions from ordaining gays, we will be in a very bad situation.

    • http://www.christythomas.com Rev. Christy Thomas

      Thank you. This is well stated.

    • jekylldoc

      As an outsider, I am pretty much clueless on this, but can’t the General Conference continue to assert their principles and simply not worry about enforcing rules which are broken in good Christian conscience? Is that really so hard to do? Have there not been times in the past when rules were in flux and the General Conference simply tolerated difference?

  • Guthrum

    If you want to see train wrecks just look at the state of the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian church USA, and the ELCA. Losses of millions of members and dollars in funds, and thousands of churches leaving. This is the result of the leadership abandoning Biblical authority and embracing popular culture and psuedo- psychologies. Disastrous social statements and positions that ignored the views and opinions of the members; and ignored the teachings of the Bible.
    The UMC should think before they follow them over the cliff.
    Denominations that follow the Bible are growing.

    • Dedangelo

      “This is the result of the leadership abandoning Biblical authority and embracing popular culture and psuedo- psychologies.” Why does this kind of thinking not extend to the entire body of scripture, then? Why is it only this issue? I do not understand.

      • Guthrum

        For decades our church members watched with sadness and dismay the direction of the denomination leaders. Biblical concepts such as creation, miracles, salvation only through faith in Jesus, the existence of a real heaven and hell, and bodily resurrection of Jesus were being denied in denominational statements and publications. Positions favoring abortion and statements opposing Israel brought disgust among church members. And the reduction and de-emphasis of mission work. The members got tired of being taught Biblical con-cepts on Sundays and then seeing all of that being denied by the denomination leaders. The gay marriage issue came along far late in this trend. By then churches had enough and voted with their feet.

      • P J Evans

        Guthrum isn’t good at thinking.

    • Donald Moeser

      Yep. . . . you nailed it.

      • Jim Broxton

        No, he really did not. Virtually all mainline churches including Catholic and Southern Baptist are in decline. The conservative takeover in Southern Baptist finally resulted in our leaving after 40 years. One of the problems is the churches have become political parties or extensions and have forgotten the teachings of Jesus and the reasons for the church. If they were not hating gays they would be hating others as they always have. They hate Mormons, Jews, Catholics, etc. it is the way they are. Love is virtually forgotten. Hate draw the people. Look at the master teacher of hate and you will see how hate draws people.

        • Guthrum

          Take a look at the PCA, Assemblies of God, Church of God, and the independent churches: growing and planting new churches. See also the Acts 29 organization: not a denomination, but growing group of churches committed to the Gospel.

        • Donald Moeser

          Hate, you say?

          I’m seeing a lot of these accusations from our Leftie neighbors when someone disagree with them.

          The word has just about lost any meaning with its over and mis-use.

          • Jim Broxton

            The word has not lost it’s meaning for those who have experienced it in the exercise of their faith. It has not lost it’s meaning for those who understand it is the antithesis of real Christianity. It has not lost it’s meaning when we realize that there are many such as you who have become so callous that they claim it “has just about lost any meaning.”

    • Jim Broxton

      Not true. Even Southern Baptists are in decline. The “nones” are growing. Virtually all mainline churches are declining, even the Catholic Church. After the hypocrisy of evangelicals in their support of Trump it will be interesting to see how many younger people even have an interest in any religion.

      • DannyBoyJr

        The SBC has peaked, which is why it is in decline. Other conservative demoninations and para-church organizations are abosorbing those leaving the SBC.

      • http://www.christythomas.com Rev. Christy Thomas

        I wonder as well how the impact of the Evangelical embrace of Trump will end up impacting the church. I suspect, as do you, that many more will join either the “nones” or the “dones” categories.

      • Kendall Fields

        You are running on the assumption that Pew’s research is totally accurate even when they use a smaller sample set and there are more people. Also do not forget the election was split nearly evenly and there were Jews, Muslims, other faiths and “nones” who voted for Trump.

    • RolloMartins

      This is the traditional argument for the decreasing attendance at mainline churches. It is wrong. Mainline churches have for a while now attempted to tightrope walk between traditional rites and conservative evangelicalism. They are the embodiment of lukewarm. And we know what Rev 3:16 says about lukewarm churches. They indeed deserve their fate. But the answer isn’t to become more fundamental. The answer is to finally tell the truth. The whole, unadulterated, unvarnished truth. Tell the truth about the Bible, about what it is, where it came from, and what it isn’t. Tell the truth about the different christologies, about how Jesus went from human to some kind of divine superman from a different planet (Krypton here equates to Heaven). In other words teach about biblical errors, inconsistencies, teach about other religions, teach about what Jesus himself taught. There is a motto that I really love, that of the Theosophical Society (not a fan, really): There is no religion above the truth. That really would be enough. It would destroy Christianity as it is now constituted. But it would also raise up a new Christianity full of true historicity, truth and honesty. That one, that church, might well see an influx of progressive energy like you haven’t seen since the Great Awakening.

      • Guthrum

        I would like to hear from some of the denomination leaders and from some pastors.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Not really. Mega-churches are growing, but Southern Baptists are losing members as well as are Mormons and Catholics. Some do a better job of hiding their losses than others.

  • feslop

    “Seek simplicity, and mistrust it.” Christy falls into well-intentioned simplicity. The UCC embraced her position on sexuality years ago, and steep decline continues. The PCUSA adopted the ‘local option’ and found its decline accelerating, with their own projections estimating a membership decline from 2.5 million in 2000 to 1.1 million in 2020. Lest conservatives giggle, nearly every evangelical church that firmly rejects same gender marriage is in plateau or clear decline. Ours is what secular organizations call a ‘wicked problem,’ with trust deficits, structural dysfunction, theological incontinence, skewed age and location demographics, no focused training-education in a ministry career progression, etc, etc. A wealth of competing challenges, communication issues and a death tsunami among members provides the whipped cream and cherry for this sundae of woe. THERE IS A HEALTHY RESPONSE THAT IS POSSIBLE, but it does not include singling out any one issue for repeated complaint. I pray that if there is division (and I neither lobby for nor encourage it as independent action) that such be a form of ecclesial mitosis, that gave the world the Salvation Army, the Wesleyan Church, the Nazarenes and the Free Methodists among the worldwide 80M children of Wesley. If the Great Commandment is our perspective, rather than stereotype or name-calling or doubting the motives of ‘others,’ then Jesus will have a healthier Wesleyan part of His body when the shouting subsides.

  • RustbeltRick

    I am very new to the United Methodist Church (three years now), and this history is quite intriguing. Thank you for spelling it out. It also seems spot on; I have felt a decisive conservative element in my local congregation, particularly in the weeks leading up to the election. The congregation was encouraged to attend a Kirk Cameron/God and country broadcast at the local theater, and one of the pastors was forwarding anti-abortion posts (from Bristol Palin of all people). It was the typical non-endorsement endorsement of Republicans that I’ve seen many times in evangelical churches. And in my state, Trump won by a razor-thin margin, so churches really carried the day for an unqualified con man. How do I attend church after that?

    • http://www.christythomas.com Rev. Christy Thomas

      Many of us are asking the same question. I think that Christianity has been forever tainted with this election.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        It’s just exposed what many of us have known about Evangelicals all along. Morality is just a weapon to beat up on people they don’t like. They don’t really care about any of those issues. It’s just a means to power.

  • DannyBoyJr

    When the UMC breaks up, I am willing to bet that in 10 years, the conservative offshoot will take over most of the remnants of the old UMC and will be in growth, while the liberal wing will be in rapid decline.

    • http://www.christythomas.com Rev. Christy Thomas

      Possibly, but is all growth necessarily good growth? Cancer grows like crazy after all. The real issue is: is it Christian? Does it teach following Jesus all the way to the cross? Is it centered on forgiveness and reconciliation, or has it become just another iteration of a Southern Baptist wall-building empire-type church?

      • Linda Coleman Allen

        Christy, as usual you are correct. Jesus died for ALL. A scripture says that “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” We are ALL whosoevers. The devil will use any reason to divide us and stop the preaching of the Gospel. We must guard our hearts and minds from being sidetracked by denominational rhetoric.

      • Kendall Fields

        Don’t try to promote your reasoning. Jesus said go and sin no more and many people find your position problematic and wrong.

    • Guthrum

      In the other denominations that are in crisis millions of members and churches left because they felt the denomination leaders left them, and left the Bible.

  • http://www.tanktillochtro.blogspot.com/ Andreas Kjernald

    If you think that David and Jonathan were involved in a romantic relationship and “have no idea what conservatives do with it” then I would like to introduce you to a pretty nifty little concept that might be new to you: male friendships.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      That never stops sounding ad hock XD

  • Notmymess

    This comment is from a gay man. I left the Church when I realized no matter how hard I prayed, no matter how hard I tried, I could not change who I was. The Church continually condemned me (not personally, as no one knew) to the point I absolutely hated myself. I left God entirely, believing that He hated me. It took me many years to accept myself and, then, realize that I CAN have a relationship with God. He loves me as I am. As far as the discipline goes, can you not understand the lives you are destroying? These are man made rules. Read the words of Jesus Christ. He loved and accepted everyone, even sinners. He railed against the hypocritical religious conservatives of His day. His message was inclusion, not exclusion. His mission was uncompromising love. The Second Greatest Commandment should be our guide in dealing with our fellow man. Think on this.

    • http://www.christythomas.com Rev. Christy Thomas

      I have thought about this a lot and I am totally on your side. What the church has done to gays is just sickening. I grieve reading your story. Thanks for commenting.

  • Animal

    For the past few years I have been on a journey from out of conservative evangelicalism and moving toward something that is more generous, progressive, and inclusive. I thought I had found that within the United Methodist Church. After spending a year in the UMC, I was surprised to see a primarily conservative church that really didn’t look much different than what I had moved away from. Perhaps it’s because of where I live (Texas). While the UMC does accept LGBT into their churches, they still won’t marry them or allow them to serve as ordained ministers. I was disappointed because I had always heard that the UMC is more liberal and inclusive. I have since left the UMC and found The Episcopal Church to be much more like what I was searching for. We have been in The Episcopal Church for about 6 months now. Not only do they accept LGBT into their churches, but they ordain them and marry them. This, and a lot more reasons do I see The Episcopal Church better exemplifying the love, grace, and truth of Jesus Christ than just about any other church. Maybe it’s time for the progressive/liberal Methodists to break away from the UMC and join the church of Wesley, the Anglican tradition.

  • Brian Vinson

    This author has no idea. None whatsoever. Does the author *know* any of these African delegates? The author and her superiority need to stop spewing.

    Many have been thinking but have not spoken? How about this. You’re part of the problem. Sharing lies about the “African church” about which you seem to know nothing. That’s a problem. Your condescension is palpable.

    • Matthew Dickinson

      Tell us what you know about the African delegates. That would help us.

      • Brian Vinson

        Thanks, Matthew. I have to say that my first-hand knowledge of the African delegates is mostly limited to the Zambian and Congolese delegates, as this is where I am.

        Though the African delegation as a whole voted as a block, and, yes, Good News did host functions with the delegation (and even brought several other Africans to Portland, including a close friend and colleague here — they participated solely as observers), the fact is that these delegates were not swayed or convinced by Good News to vote in a certain way. Those who I spoke with were extremely dismayed about how some of our progressive sisters and brothers behaved at GC.

        That said, speaking of “the African delegation” is not unlike speaking of “the American delegation.” Africa is huge. Africa is extremely diverse. There *are* differences of opinion.

        Another falsehood perpetuated by the author here is that the American church fully funds the African church. As a pastor in an African UMC, we faithfully pay our “targets” (what we call Apportionments) to the District and to the Conference. But unlike when I was pastoring in West Ohio, the Conference “targets” are very obviously broken down so we know exactly how much is going where (in fact, as our local church gets money, at the end of the month we have a finance committee meeting and decide which line items to pay). So when the author says that the US funds 99% of worldwide budget and “all support of the African churches” this is simply NOT TRUE. In our district, I, as a GBGM missionary, am being funded by GBGM. But I am the *ONLY* one who is. There is no other pastor, district superintendent, or church who is getting any funds from the US.

        The idea that the one who pays should make all the decisions is horrifying. That would put all decision-making in the hands of the wealthy few. And with Trump’s presidency, we can see that this is a problem!!! (yes, I am a conservative who is horrified at Trump’s presidency).

      • Morris Floyd

        I don’t have Brian’s knowledge of African UM’s. But it is easy for me to believe that the delegates from Africa were voting from the theological understanding that was brought to them by missionaries decades, if not centuries ago. We should not be surprised that those fundamentalist views now come back to the bite the denomination as a whole, nor should we fail to acknowledge the pathos inherent in a situation where those delegates bring those views to a GC, are dumbfounded to find they are not the views of all Christians, and appalled at what they see as the apostasy thereof. Until our missionaries in Africa and the local leadership of those churches and congregations are prepared to lead them to an appreciation that faithful disagreement over theological matters is possible, the denomination is indeed lost.

        • jekylldoc

          I am far from an expert on the African churches, but I do know that leadership in Africa is aware of alternative theological perspectives. In general they prefer to remain in tune with the local perceptions of what is “good” and “Godly” and get on with doing church in that very family-oriented context.

          If someone had the goal of forming an alliance with African bishops, my guess is that some version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” would be quite acceptable. I realize that this is oppressive to LGBTQ lives, but it leaves the door open for future progress. In a denomination (I am not Methodist) with Wesley’s organizational discipline at the heart of its history, that might be the most workable approach.

  • Ann Phillips

    In my nearly 60 years of life, I’ve found that the future is nearly always unpredictable, but seldom much like either the apocalyptic predictions or their polar opposites, the utopian ones. Keep in mind that one of the strengths of the UMC is its appreciation of diversity. We may not agree on doctrine or practice, in fact that is most unlikely because we were taught to think for ourselves and we are all wired a bit differently. Still we can be one in worship and in service.

    I spent years respectfully disagreeing with more liberal pastors, after being trained by evangelicals during the Jesus People movement. After our church finally got a pastor with an evangelical bent, somehow my own walk with Jesus led me in another direction, so i often still find myself respectfully disagreeing. I suspect strongly that if the church were to split, I would find myself homeless, as far as church is concerned. I also suspect that as to sexuality, in 20 years or so, it could become as little an issue to us as whether to support slavery is now. That is, my kids’ generation simply sees it all as normal genetic variation and doesn’t see why anyone gets excited about any of it. Interaction with our African brothers and sisters will hopefully be good for all of us in the long run. Perhaps seeing how we have struggled with the issue will encourage them to moderate their hard line stance, assuming they are willing to listen.

  • Lee Yeager

    I have recently left the UMC because I could not support the position taken in the Book of Discipline on human sexuality. I miss much about the church and loved my local congregation, but their doors, minds, and hearts are not really open to all.

    • Linnea912

      So have I. I loved my (very progressive!) small UM church, but could no longer live with the contradictions of the denomination. It wasn’t easy to leave, but I felt I had to do so for the sake of my own integrity. I have found a new home in the Episcopal Church, and really love it. Episcopal congregations are rare where I live (Minnesota) and I consider myself extremely lucky to have found a progressive parish that is actually *growing*.

    • RoverSerton

      I wanted to leave after the GC2012 but stayed for my wife’s sake. I resigned right after this GC because I don’t want to be associated with a discriminatory organization. The minister also was saddened by the GC (and my leaving).

    • soter phile

      So… you want a church “open to all”… except those who disagree with you?

  • Gregory R Coates

    Where will those of us who are deeply committed to the orthodox faith of Christianity, who believe doctrine matters, who affirm the divinity of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the body, AND who wish to see the LGBT community included go?

    Sadly, I predict that the church will indeed divide. Many conservatives will flock to the Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyans, and the Free Methodists. Many liberals will join the UCC or Episcopal Church. And meanwhile the gospel of Jesus Christ will suffer another setback, yet endure…

    I do wish the author had at least tried to be a bit more balanced and even-handed. The bias here is so strong as to be toxic. I’ve always found it fascinating when so-called liberals can be so illiberal in their thinking and attitude toward other opinions.

    • Morris Floyd

      Since you state you “are deeply committed to the orthodox faith of Christianity, who believe doctrine matters, who affirm the divinity of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the body,” and (presumably on that basis) also wish for the inclusion of LGBT people in the church, I have to wonder why you don’t know where you would go if the denomination splits. Is it because you consider your view of what constitutes “orthodox faith” to be non-negotiable? If you could give credit to the idea that those you call “liberal” might also believe they are committed to orthodox faith, there would be fruitful ground for theological discussion. The accusation of “bias” is both untrue and counterproductive when there is deep disagreement. But where a shared faith commitment exists (even if within it there are disagreements – as there have been in the Christian church nearly from the beginning), something new is possible.

      • Gregory Peterson

        Orthodoxy is the Apostles’ Creed, not a bigots screed.

    • Barb

      Come join with us in the PC(USA).

      • Guthrum

        A better choice would be the PCA: Bible based, evangelistic, and growing. The PC – USA split again last year and is in steep decline.

        • DannyBoyJr

          Except the PCA is stridently complementarian and calvinist. No thanks.

          • soter phile

            This last interchange largely sums up the problem for mainline denominations:
            “bible-based, evangelistic, and growing…” “no thanks.”

          • Gregory Peterson

            Of course pro-slavery and white supremacist Evangelicals have always accused abolitionist and egalitarian Evangelicals and other Christians of not being true Bible-based believers, and therefore not real Christians and anti-God.

          • soter phile

            “pro-slavery and white supremacist Evangelicals” – who are you talking about? certainly not William Wilberforce, whose views are echoed in many modern evangelicals.

            consider: MLK was very effective long-term at calling out Southern biblical conservatives’ racism precisely because he appealed to them to be *more* biblically faithful, not less. He wasn’t calling them to jettison or abstract from their biblical views, but rather to embrace them (unlike virtually all mainline denominations).

            and no matter how you stack it, in the US (& even more so worldwide), the so-called “progressive” & mainline Protestant denominations are in serious decline. numbers do not equate to being ‘right’, but it does call for some serious self-reflection. anything less contributes to perpetuating the downward spiral.

            as for “not real Christians”, I can’t help but think of an old Christopher Hitchens’ interview in the Huffington Post:

            Marilyn Sewell: “Mr. Hitchens, the religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement — that Jesus died for our sins, for example. Do you make a distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?”

            Christopher Hitchens: “Well, I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”

          • Gregory Peterson

            Wilberforce wasn’t American..but the pro-slavery founding fathers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South certainly were.

            Really, cultural appropriation is not always a Christian virtue. We don’t ‘own’ Wilberforce, but we do ‘own’ George Whitefield and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. (Whitefield was a key figure in legalizing slavery in Georgia. Aside from being pro-slavery and then looking away from the white terrorism that created and propped up the Jim Crow regime, the 1930’s merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South left us with a race segregated administrative structure that was only dismantled when the M.C. merged with my baptismal EUB in 1968.)

            MLK’s non-violent resistance exposed the stony, self-privileging heart of the sincere white Bible believers who controlled the Bible Belt. He did that by showing the world just how far they would go to defend unearned privilege and power. He didn’t persuade them with flattering, flowery language and love notes, he very publicly shamed them, exposed them as being both vicious and ridiculous. (As if white non-Bible Belt racism was all that benign…)

            Judging from what I see, the lessons that the white sincere Bible Believers learned from the Civil Rights Movement era were: “Massive Resistance” political tactics are still useful for delaying and harassing, you can still quote the Strom Thurmond’s “Southern Manifesto” when you’re denouncing the Supreme Court, as long as you don’t cite the source, passive/aggressive racism is OK by the police, and you can still bully a smaller, multi-ethnic minority group using recycled arguments and accusations once used by the white Citizens’ Council types.

          • soter phile

            Read David L Chappell’s “Stone of Hope” for a very different take on what made MLK effective long-term in the South – especially among biblical conservatives. It sounds like you believe the progressive narrative in that regard… but note well: the Southern biblical conservatives who today state plainly that slavery/racism is evil do so because they see it taught in the Bible, not because they were publicly “shamed” into that belief. it’s hard to “shame” people for something they think God teaches is a virtue.

          • Gregory Peterson

            I have read Chappell’s book, “Stone of Hope,” though it was a good while ago, when it came out. I thought it was somewhat revisionist and sympathetic to people who didn’t earn sympathy, nor want it from others.

            If memory serves, I think I read it because I was at that time researching one of the founders of the homophobic ‘Christianity Today.’ He was the “moderate” segregationist and father in law to Billy Graham, Dr. L. Nelson Bell. Bell had also had founded the segregationist ‘Southern Presbyterian Journal.’ CT was largely financed by the soon to be extremist John Bircher, J. Howard Pew.

            Dr. Bell had some mad and deeply immoral scheme he called “voluntary segregation,” so voluntary that staffers at his other magazine had swear to it, if memory serves. Not to mention that Black people didn’t exactly vote to be “voluntarily” segregated.

            The public core of the Civil Rights Movement was lead by Dr. King, and his non-violence tactics shamed the South and America before the world, to good effect. But his movement (one of his strategists was the openly Gay, as we say today, Quaker, Bayard Rustin) was wasn’t the only thing going on.

            The attack on Jim Crow and northern racism was multi-pronged and not necessarily coordinated. The NAACP was already decades old. Truman has already desegregated the military and states’ rights was denounced at his convention.

            The ‘white’ leadership of many Christian denominations were usually not die hard segregationists, and were sympathetic to the ‘Brown V Board of Education’ ruling… even if they didn’t necessarily reflect the laity. That somewhat muted religious “proof text God said it and I believe it” opposition to racial equality under the law, much to the dismay of the Citizens’ Councils types. Black nationalists and other Black groups were not all sworn to non-violence, so non-violent opposition to Jim Crow and northern racism wasn’t necessarily a given.

            I would argue that “Southern biblical conservatives who today state plainly that slavery/racism is evil do so because they see it taught in the Bible,” were largely shamed into seeing that…as well as seeing that their business interests and denominational worldwide missionary programs would suffer without public denouncements of Jim Crow…however weak, weakly supported by the “conservative” denominations, and watered down they usually were.

            I would also argue that ‘white’ “Southern biblical conservatives” didn’t really learn the lesson of the Civil Rights Movement, as their endless recycling of old racist arguments and “Massive Resistance” political tactics against a multi-ethnic minority group plainly illustrates.

            What they apparently did learn is to not publicly bully Black people, but doing that to a smaller minority group is still OK.

            Russell Moore, a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention” has a racial reconciliation movement going on. But I see it as less about racial reconciliation, as apparently women don’t have anything to say about that that Moore need respect, and more about building a multi-ethnic, male lead, patriarchal minded, anti-Gay coalition.

          • Gregory Peterson

            The Apostles’ Creed is not a doctrine of unearned heterosexual privilege and power to be used to justify discrimination against law abiding minority adults.

            Hitchens was not a Christian, but my Gay friends who are ordained pastors, bishops, elders and devout laity definitely are… even if they aren’t ordained as United Methodists. Our loss.

          • soter phile

            I don’t know what you mean by “unearned heterosexual privilege” in regard to what I wrote above… but the entire debate boils down to what you mean by “law-abiding” within a Christian community. Whose law?

            Understand the reciprocal concern you have for conservatives: if God’s law does validate LGBT marriage/rights, then the same sense of justice to which you are appealing and feel viscerally has a reciprocal version in your opponents on this topic. And consider: only one group is correct. How shall it be decided? The biblical conservative must be allowed the integrity of his/her position: what does the Bible say? It is disingenuous to then label such a person as a “bigot” when their motive is not the same as a bigot (who begins w/ discriminatory predilections and seeks out any system that will justify said predilections).

    • cvryder2000

      Reminding you that John Wesley remained a priest of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church until his death……

    • Guthrum

      Look at the sad demise and current state of the Presbyterian Church USA. A once thriving, respected, and influential denomination has split several times. The leaders could not seem to take a stand on anything, but accommodated and compromised on everything. Now the PC US is in collapse, and is irrelevant. Its days are numbered.
      The Episcopal Church is also in total disaster, after the apostate leadership of its previous bishop: millions of members and thousands of churches left or closed.

  • Morris Floyd

    I repeat here my Facebook response: I
    can see no reason to doubt the accuracy of this assessment, though I
    find problematic the barely-veiled accusation, based solely on
    inference, that the African conferences are cooking the books on their
    membership numbers. However what troubles me even more is that this
    (and similar pieces I’ve seen over the last six months) continue to by
    driven by the view that the deep division is about same-sex sexuality,
    gender identity, and disagreements over other “social issues.” Clearly
    that is not the case. The UMC is divided over fundamental theological
    questions, such as the nature of creation for starters. This leads
    directly to the question of what kind of Creator is worshiped and what
    relationship the Creator seeks with human creatures. It is not
    progressive vs. conservative or anything like that, except at the most
    superficial level. For some reason, both “sides” seem to prefer
    debating at this superficial level. With all due respect to Christy, in
    this connection wondering WWJWD seems appallingly irrelevant. The
    truth is that those arguing for same-sex love and non-binary gender
    identity to be considered anathema believe in a different god than the
    one that believers say is most thoroughly revealed in the life and
    teachings of Jesus. That is why the situation is so thoroughly
    intractable, and the sooner the people who still call themselves United
    Methodists recognize this, the better it will be for everyone.

    • Guthrum

      Our church left the ELCA in 2009. This was not over one issue, but involved the trends of the last last twenty or thirty years where we saw the leaders move away from the Lutheran doctrine of Biblical authority. We got tired of them taking positions and actions that went against what we were hearing and learning every Sunday in the sermons, lessons, liturgy, hymns, classes, and the creeds ! We were reading in the denomination publications and statements denials of the basic Bible teachings ! Evangelism and mission work was reduced and de-emphasized. The bishop was serving on some White House task force instead of out bringing people to Jesus. Instead of the theology of the cross the leaders were pushing a feel good, popular, warm fuzzy Gospel. We had enough so we left and took our property with us. We joined a fairly new Lutheran body that is Bible focused and is growing.

      • DannyBoyJr

        What Lutheran body did it join? Why not join existing bodies like the LCMS or WELS?

        • Guthrum

          LCMC.

          • DannyBoyJr

            Thanks for answering.

            *The fourth largest Lutheran denomination in North America.
            *Allows but does not require female clergy.
            *Moderate to conservative.

            That sounds great already. If I were a Lutheran, that would probably be the denomination for me.

  • Jeanne

    http://jeannereames.net/New_Thoughts_Old_Debate.pdf

    “New thoughts on an Old Debate: Homosexuality Today, Homoeroticism Then.” Article from an ordained Elder in the Florida Conference, and also a professor of ancient history and director of the Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program at UNO.

  • Guthrum

    The UMC and most other Protestant denominations need to refocus on their priority: mission – get back to saving the lost and bringing people to Jesus. In the past several years many churches have gotten away from that and become more like country clubs. The leaders are too involved in politics, social endeavors, and entertainment. The denominations that are growing are teaching out and bringing people to Jesus.
    I would ask the denomination leaders and their pastors this question: how many new converts did your churches have last year ? They have gotten completely away from that and that is why so many are in steep decline.

    • jekylldoc

      Saving the lost and bringing people to Jesus is not a matter of persuading people to ascribe to particular doctrines. By “to Jesus” we mean to a new way of looking at all of life, and a new way of being in community with others. Unfortunately too many of “the denominations that are growing” make asking questions taboo, so those who take their new vision seriously enough to ask those questions are made to feel they do not belong.

      “The denominations that are growing” aren’t really growing any more.

    • Gregory Peterson

      Of course your recommendation is the classic way to avoid addressing and doing something about institutional injustice, which makes it deeply immoral.

  • http://toholdsway.blogspot.com/ Jamie Carter

    Now, I think it is totally wrong for the US church to dictate to the African church that they must embrace alternate sexualities. Culturally, it just won’t fly, and the gospel will get lost for them with such a mandate.

    The thing is that the Bible fits with what they already culturally are disposed to believe is true about gender roles and sexuality. It won’t challenge them to have Jesus’ heart for outsiders and compassion on outsiders who don’t fit in with what they believe is true.

    It doesn’t help that the UMC churches I’ve attended relied on SBC Lifeway materials to teach their courses – it slipped in their theology’s conservative teachings without being challenged. With the SBC broadcasting it’s message into Africa, it’s been dousing fire with gasoline, and giving God’s stamp of approval on what they already believe to be true.

  • Michael Corey

    > I genuinely have no idea what they do with the Jonathan and David stories in the Bible, but that is beside the point.

    …They had a deep, nonsexual friendship. How is that difficult to get? Even if you had hard proof that they had a sexual relationship, are you unfamiliar with the concept of bad examples, or do you similarly think that Lot’s Daughters are to be emulated?

    • Gregory Peterson

      You want that, but you don’t know that for sure. It may have been nonsexual, but it was homoerotic, and Jonathan’s father didn’t like it.

      And while people are carefully not doing thinking about that couple, they’re also carefully not thinking about the Centurion and his beloved, gravely ill “boy.”

      • Michael Corey

        What King Saul didn’t like was David being a threat to his power. 1 Samuel 18:7-9.

        The Centurion and his gravely ill boy? The text says a slave, but makes no statement about the age. Nor does it say anything about their relationship other than the slave was “highly valued”.

        You are reading things into the text that are not there.

        • Gregory Peterson

          An enslaved man was a “boy.” That’s why I wrote it in quotes, “boy.”

          Fred Clark, the Slacktivist,’ has an interesting essay on this. He points out that we should remember that the status to Jews of the Centurion, who wasn’t Jewish, was “unclean.”

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2014/05/02/jesus-clobber-texts-and-the-centurions-companion/#

          There is, of course, no definitive answer to ‘did they or didn’t they.’ But, I believe that Centurions were not allowed to marry. The Centurion was an adult and adults do often have close, intimate relationships. It was strongly taboo for a free man to have a sexual relationship with a free man (which would make a sexual relationship between David & Jonathan much less likely, however much it reads homoerotic), but it was not strongly taboo for a free man to have a sexual relationship with a man in a state of submission to him, like a slave.

          As long as someone in the relationship was “the woman,” it was not so taboo, even if there was an antipathy towards such relationships. The Centurion wasn’t a Jew, and gentiles seemed to have had less antipathy and more tolerance towards such relationships, especially for a man who commands some power.

          Of course there are differences between the Centurion stories in Matthew and Luke, with Luke puffing him up for reasons that are interesting to think about.

  • David T

    Rev. Thomas, it would be helpful if you could clarify what you meant by the phrase “including all support of the African churches” because I think some people have taken that broader than you meant it. I don’t have a working knowledge of the entire UMC budget, and although US money surely pays the expenses of the Bishops of the African Central Conferences, do you also mean that money from the United States covers the entire administrative expenses of the Central Conferences *and* also local church expenses? I don’t think you meant that, but that’s the way your wording could be misinterpreted.

    • Enrique Loper

      Me thinks many people of color will interpret what she has said as nasty and bigoted–No, Ms. Thomas, there’s nothing wrong with Africans having what we normal people call “representative” equality within or outside of the UMC. And to suggest that somehow some, patronizing exception, because, as she words it “Culturally, it just won’t fly, and the gospel will get lost for them with such a mandate” should be made for Africans, as if they had no agency to read and interpret the Gospel (as millions have, for two thousand years) is an ASTONISHING if not accidental admission by a White Western Woman in the context of a global Christendom–that she does not believe they can handle complex issues, intellectually. Talk about white privilege on display. “Will get lost for them” ? Huh? Wow. Does the UMC know she is writing this?

      I hope that she writes an apology to all the people of color within the UMC (and generally, everywhere), because her post above was breathtakingly insensitive to millions of followers of Jesus around the world who happen to be black or brown and not in lock step with what are essentially white Methodists from the elite class of the United States. Still shaking my head.

  • Robert Armstrong

    The UMC has no presiding Bishop or other continuing executive official at the top. The General Conference, though it is the highest official body in the church, has no executive power. It cannot enforce its rules. The Judicial Council can rule an action by an Annual Conference or Jurisdictional Conference is contrary to the Book of Discipline, but if the Annual Conference or Jurisdictional Conference decides it is right and the Book of Discipline is wrong there is no way to bring the Annual Conference or Jurisdiction in to compliance with the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council. The question is how long are those who believe the Book of Discipline is correct as presently written concerning the rights of homosexuals going to stand for the outright defiance thereof by certain Annual Conferences and Jurisdictions? Then there is the question of what they are going to do about this defiance? If their only option is to blow up the church one suspects they will eventually take it.

    • Gregory Peterson

      “The question is how long are those who believe the Book of Discipline is correct as presently written concerning the rights of homosexuals going to stand for the outright defiance thereof by certain Annual Conferences and Jurisdictions?”

      The question is offensive and disgusting. The language in the Book of Discipline is offensive and disgusting.

      For starters, very few people self-identify as a “homosexual.” There isn’t a “homosexual community.” Probably for the same reason that there are few people who self-identify as a “Negro” in English, and there is no “Negro community.”

      Who, after the Civil Rights Movement, will allow people of obvious ill-will label and define you?

      • Gregory Peterson

        “Homosexuality” is a much abused, Victorian-era attempt at a sexual taxonomy with a lot of long discredited scientific baggage. It sounds clinical. Few people self-identify as a “homosexual.” Sociologists, I think, have largely stopped using the term in their research. It’s simply fading into obsolescence and has mostly become the name of the religious-right’s favorite scapegoat.

        • Robert Armstrong

          “Homosexuality is a trick played on the English language by the is of identity combined with the concept of KISS which is short for “keep it short stupid.” The real issue is the morality of sex between two men and sex between two women. Liberal Christians claim we can accept sex between two men and sex between two women as moral while conservative, or as they prefer to call themselves orthodox Christians claim we can’t. Beyond this is the question of whether we can change revealed dogma to reflect known facts. If we can’t change revealed dogma to reflect the fact some people are so conditioned that they can only enjoy sex acts if they are preformed with person of the same sex then we can’t be accepting of these acts regardless of the justification for them. In reality the question being debated is whether we can change dogma. Same sex orientated individuals simply have the misfortune of being caught in the middle of this greater argument.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Of course disparaging minority relationships as just about satisfying sinful lusts has been done before, as any of us older people who had been in an interracial relationship back in the bad old days can tell you.

          • Robert Armstrong

            I see where you are coming from. You see the gay rights movement as a civil rights movement. This means you see its enemies as bigots and haters. Unfortunately this means you are declaring war on orthodox Christianity. Orthodox Christians outnumber you. We will live for the next 4 years with one of the results of this war. Orthodox Christians did not vote for Trump because they believed he would be a good President. They voted for him because they feared for their jobs and their children’s future education. They feared they could be fired from their job for belonging to a church that did not accept the moral goodness of gay sex. They feared the loss of accreditation for schools and colleges which continued to teach traditional Christian doctrine concerning sex. While disparaging minority relationships as just about satisfying sinful lusts has been done before there is much more to the debate over gay rights than just that.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Orthodoxy is the Apostle’s Creed, not a bigots screed.

            The church shouldn’t affirm the “goodness of gay sex,” but the goodness of loving Gay adult relationships and celebrate and officiate their marriages.

            Disparaging minority relationships as just about sex is bigoted and has been done before, as we both have now pointed out. So, why did you do it?

            There is more to Gay rights than just that issue. There are issues of economic justice, discrimination, segregation from influence and power. You can’t become a Bishop if ordination is forbidden. There is the issue of the creation of dangerous, unjust, sometimes lethal minority stress, of which many churches and ministers are very much culpable.

            People who voted for Trump did not make justice and real equality (as opposed to pro forma declarations) under the law a priority.

          • Robert Armstrong

            At some point we have to live in the real world. This is a world where we have to live with people who disagree with us over important things. I can, and in fact do, agree with everything you say above. But other people don’t. At some point we just have to devise some way to live with them. Calling them bigots and haters doesn’t seem to be working.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Hmmm…when you advocate discrimination as the ‘Book of Discipline’ does, you’re pretty saying that you can only live with “those people” as long as they’re invisible and silent, and thereby complicit in their own oppression.

            But after the Civil Rights Movement, “those people,” whomever they are, simply won’t stay invisible and silent so that you can think that your exclusive and unearned privilege and power is divinely mandated as the way God designed things.

          • Gregory Peterson

            The Gay Rights Movement IS a civil rights movement, a worldwide civil rights movement that isn’t going to go away….unless you’re prepared to make 300 million or so people disappear… and then massacre children in every generation to keep the Gay away.

          • Robert Armstrong

            Unfortunately some people might take you up on that. Muslim extremists for one, Putin for another. In Russia they look upon the West as a decadent culture because we support Gay rights. It appears in supporting Gay rights you are supporting the superiority of Western culture to non-Western culture.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Nevertheless, the Gay Rights/minority sexual orientation and gender identity movement is a worldwide movement, existing in India, Thailand, Japan, S. Korea, Nepal, S. Africa, for starters. Sexual Minorities Uganda has brought the notorious Scott Lively to trial for crimes against humanity.

            Minority sexual orientation and gender identity people, somewhat like left handed people, are most everywhere, even if the social constructs, understandings, and labels are different around the world.

            So, you’re fine with comparing American conservative Evangelicals with authoritarian Putin and Muslim Extremists?

          • E DeLoges

            It’s not “Muslim extremists” who are against gay marriage. ALL MUSLIMS within the common Muslim culture are against homosexual activity. Yet, gay activists have not targeted any Masjids in Michigan? They stick with nice soft targets like the LDS in California. Where’s your big protest against the so-called “black church?”

            Why aren’t you protesting Nancy Pelosi, who goes to a church that rejects your lifestyle and gay marriage?

          • Gregory Peterson

            Catholics do believe, I think, in the primacy of conscience over dogma and doctrine.

            American Muslims aren’t especially trying to deny equality under the law for LGBT people or other law abiding minority adult.

            There are some awful American Muslim bigots who are an exception to the rule, of course, but in general… if you aren’t fighting against me, you’re OK by me.

            As opposed to the LDS or conservative Evangelical movement, where those supporting equality are apparently the exception to the rule.

  • Guthrum

    “The UMC will have to dissolve”: no, it doesn’t. If it follows the path of the Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church, and ELCA then it is indeed headed to total disaster.
    “The Gospel is rapidly getting lost…” Yes, in some denominations. But in others the Gospel is being taught. Those denominations and churches are growing.
    These denominations preach and teach the Bible and are growing: Assemblies of God, Presbyterian Church of America, North American Lutheran Church, Church of God in Christ and others. Of course the independent churches are growing and starting new plants everywhere. There are many UMC churches that are thriving and doing well. A Methodist church near here has thousands of members, is multi-cultural, and expanding its facilities. It would be described as a mix of modern worship and emphasis on traditional Bible theology. I would say that most Methodist church members would vote to keep the policies the same. The mainline denominations ignored their members in stacked voting assemblies concerning social policies and positions. Their members then left by the millions. The Episcopal Church had a bishop whose sermons openly denied basic Biblical teachings and were apostate.
    See “Episcopal Church In Collapse”, Belief Net.

    • Robert Armstrong

      The problem comes when a gay pastor is ordained, a gay bishop is elected, or a gay marriage is celebrated. There is simply no mechanism to punish such violations of church law. The Judicial Council can rule these acts as violations of the Book of Discipline. But if the people involved believe they have Truth on their side and ignore the Judicial Council’s findings that as they say is that. Eventually those who believe in orthodox Christian sexual morality will eventually get tired of this situation. The question is “what then?’

  • See Noevo

    “The truth about the future of the United Methodist Church?
    There is no future. It is as simple as that.”

    I could have told you that whenever the hell the UMC was first formed.
    There is only one Church that will remain for the long haul.

    • The Happy Atheist

      Scientology? It must be Scientology. Yeah. That’s the right one.

      • See Noevo

        Ha Ha. Yeah No.
        I should have expanded to “HAS REMAINED for the long haul until
        now, and WILL REMAIN for the long haul until the end”.
        Scientology been around only 60 years.

        But I don’t need to give you another joking “guess.”
        You already know the answer.

        • The Happy Atheist

          “…HAS REMAINED for the long haul until now, and WILL REMAIN for the long haul until the end.”

          Ooooohhh! Like Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism, all three of which predate Christianity by a thousand years or more? All three are still going strong, so…

          • See Noevo

            “Ooooohhh! Like Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism, all three
            of which predate Christianity by a thousand years or more? All three are still going strong, so…”

            The issue was *not* about which *beliefs* have been around and
            will be around for a long time. Sure as hell, even completely crazy belief systems have been around forever, like atheism.

            The issue was which *Church* would remain until the end.

            Quickly –
            What is the name of the individual *heading* the church of Hinduism, the church of Judaism, and the church of Buddhism (if any
            of them even have a church)?

            No Googling allowed! You’re on the honor system.

          • The Happy Atheist

            Whether those faiths include a “church” is only relevant to you. Who cares? Why is the fact that the core of Christianity is the “Church” of any importance at all? I also don’t understand why an official “head” of the “Church” is significant. You are so stuck in your Catholic tradition – and that’s all it is – that you can’t see that its structure and leadership are a mere coincidence of history. First, you know as well as I that there is continuing debate about whether Jesus was referring to Peter or his faith as the rock upon which he would build his church. Even if he meant Peter himself (and there is no way to really know), was really the founder of the Roman Church? Or was it Paul? Or one of the early church fathers? Or Constantine?

            You think the answers are all there and that they are clear. They are not.

          • See Noevo

            “Whether those faiths include a “church” is only relevant to you.”

            No, it’s relevant, or should be relevant, to all Christians,
            including the “Progressive Christians” who visit this particular Patheos
            channel.

            As to the rest of your post, well, you really need to get out more.

          • The Happy Atheist

            The fact remains that you have no standing from which to declare that the Catholic church is the only “right” one. None. All you have is Matthew 16:18 which, taken in the context of its entire sense unit, could mean that Peter’s faith in Jesus, his declaration that Jesus was the expected Messiah (although the precise meaning of ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος – son of the living god – is not clear), was the rock upon which he would build his church (16:16), or that Peter himself was. It is impossible to know for sure and it’s intellectually lazy disingenuous to make such an unequivocal statement.

          • See Noevo

            I don’t foresee this dialog going further, but I’ll know for
            certain after you answer one question:

            Do you believe in the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus
            Christ, or at least in the reasonable possibility of it?

          • The Happy Atheist

            A literal resurrection? No. That said, I have a long background in biblical textual criticism, so I am more than a little familiar with the bible and the history of the church and its doctrine. You can dismiss that because I’m not a believer if you wish, but that says more about you and the nature of “faith” than it does me.

          • See Noevo

            Me: “Do you believe in the physical, bodily resurrection of
            Jesus Christ, *or at least in the reasonable possibility of it*?”

            You: “A literal resurrection? No. That said…”

            Ok. No need to go any further.
            We’re done.

            Good luck going down the rabbit hole.

          • The Happy Atheist

            Got nothing, huh? I suspected as much. Your faith is perhaps the least inspiring I’ve ever seen. Good luck with that.

        • J.A.

          The Eastern Orthodox Church, of course 😛

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Christy, thank you for the article. I agree with the vast majority of it.

    I spent a little more than a year as a UMC local pastor. I was shocked at the inability of the General Conference to facilitate open, authentic, and detailed discussion of all the sexuality issues. I was equally shocked to see bishops and district superintendents offer absolutely no leadership on these questions…absolute silence, in fact. That is completely irresponsible and emblematic of why the UMC should and will die. A compromise could have been forged, but the WCA crowd would have none of it. Essentially, WCA is of the worst strain of populist Trumpism….and there is nothing but destruction in all of that.

    Thank you very much for using all the letters: LGBTQI. Let us strive to leave no one to the silence the UMC craves.

    Finally, a word of caution. There is no need to pit Jesus against the legal tradition of the Jewish people (“613 laws”). In fact , Jesus’ “boiling down” of the law which you cite was actually a variation of Rabbi Hillel’s teaching. Judaism, especially its legal tradition, is NOT an opposition to the Gospel. Period.

  • MSW

    Excellent article. I left the UMC approximately 2 years ago and never looked back. I was a lay speaker and served on several committees at both a church level and a district level. Going to meetings sucked the life out of me. I was raised in an environment where you accepted everyone. You didn’t exclude others. Period. I would sit in meetings across from Pastors who preached love and forgiveness on Sunday, but would then use words I would never repeat to describe anyone who was LGBTQIA. Yet, I never heard these same Pastors launch these types of verbal attacks on individuals who were divorced, or insert any sin that is listed in the bible here that gets virtually NO equal playing time as homosexuality.

    I feel bad for the church because I have many friends who are still a part of it, and it is the denomination that I grew up in. But as long as the church (and not just UMC, but others) continue to act in this cruel manner, they will lose members. As someone who was a member for 40 years, I can promise you that.

  • Gregory Peterson

    If the church splits over equality for people of gender relationship minority orientations like it split over slavery… it pretty much deserve ridicule, scorn and abandonment.

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    • Robert Armstrong

      Except the idea of gender equality for people of gender relationship minority orientations is just an excuse for the split. The real reason will be the inability of liberal Christians and orthodox Christians to devise any way by which they can even tolerate each other.

      • Gregory Peterson

        So…liberals should compromise with justice for the oppressed?

        • Robert Armstrong

          If the United Methodist Church as we know it is to survive both sides will have to compromise. Since both sides see this as a battle of good vs evil the only answer to your question must be yes. The slim, at best, chances of either side doing so explains the title and theme of this post.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Since the American UM has a great deal of experience with people justifying unearned privilege and power as sincere beliefs that are mandated by God, you would think we could handle all this better.

            And that’s what this is about… Defending unearned heterosexual privilege, of making power and influence that more exclusive. Justifying segregation and discrimination keeps “those people” out of the pulpit, and therefore out of leadership roles.

            Theoretically, confining discrimination to ordination wouldn’t keep the LGBT laity our of laity roles in the church, but it very likely does. The Book of Discipline down and dirty defames Gay people, starting with the very word, “homosexual” that Gay people have rejected as a community name and label for self-identity for some forty years now. Talk about nasty and rude.

            In erasing LGBT visibility in the pulpit, their influences, their voice, in making them invisible and silent, you disrespecting their integrity and making them complicit in their own oppression.

        • soter phile

          understand: most biblical conservatives would say the problem is that liberals already have compromised… when they jettisoned a biblically faithful view of justice.

          i know that answer will be unpopular here, but that’s the real source of the divide for biblical conservatives: being labeled “bigots” for standing by what they genuinely believe to be biblical. such pejorative labels are designed to silence, preventing any real dialogue that might bring mutual understanding.

          • Gregory Peterson

            When you are advocating for discrimination against law abiding minority people and disparaging their relationships as just being about sex, “bigot” is an accurate description.

            Being smugly condescending in that smug way of the ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ sincere believer way isn’t civil discourse, and you shouldn’t expect polite murmurers back from the victims that you have just defamed.

            Pro-slavery and white supremacist Evangelicals also stood by what they genuinely believed to believed to be biblical….and they were also quick to accuse their critics of not being bible-believers, and therefore since they were anti-God, of not being real Christians.

            Of course personal experience is just that, and can’t be trusted as generalities, but…I’ve never heard anti-Gay activists make a biblically faithful view of justice means in the context of segregating and discriminating against a law abiding minority adults because of what they are.

            I’ve heard them make a telelogical argument, but then, so did the segregationist anti-miscegenationists. Why should I trust people who believed that God designed them better than me (Of course, having a genetic disease kind of suggests that God did make me of inferior stuff, right? The argument that I prefer is: I’m just unlucky at the evolutionary roulette table. Why would I want to think ill of God?)

            Not to mention that all of us United Methodists now have the blood of my martyred African LGBT brothers and sisters on our hands. What are we doing about it?

            For more on how American culture wars have made us complicit in that, see the work of the Anglican priest, the Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma.

            We are also complicit in the dangerous, unjust minority stress that we create here, too. What are we doing about that?

          • soter phile

            You are demonstrating my point. Everyone with whom you disagree you seem to assume is a “bigot.” Your representative arguments are caricatures I have not heard any evangelical articulate (“God designed them better than me”/they think i’m inferior – but their faith means claiming they are so messed up that they needed a Savior), and your logic is problematic (some racists thought they were biblical; evangelicals think they’re biblical; they must be making the same mistake).

            Remember, what makes biblical conservatives have such a label is their (supposedly) paramount concern for what the Bible says (as God’s Word). Again, MLK could appeal to the Bible on the issue of race. Most biblical conservatives point out that on this particular issue, the LGBT lobby cannot make that same appeal. Therein lies the rub.

            But a further question would be this: can God contradict you? how would you know if your view of justice is contrary to his?

          • Gregory Peterson

            When you use the teleological argument that men and women are designed for each other as God designed, that’s what you’re saying. Gay people are inferior.

            I’m saying that today’s sincere Bible Believers are saying slightly modified racist arguments. claims and accusations against LGBT people that I’ve read in literature by antebellum pro-slavery Evangelicals. . I’m saying that today’s sincere Bible Believers are saying slightly modified racist arguments. claims and accusations against LGBT people that I’ve read by the business class of segregationists of my youth…and which I have personally heard (and screamed) even into the 1970’s.

            You don’t want me to make those associations, stop lightly recycling old racist arguments that I’ve heard and read before.

            Sure, you may have not read them, and maybe you’re too young to have heard them personally, but that brings up the point of where and how did you get them? And, how are you using them any differently? I mean, defending heterosexual Christian privilege is not all that different an activity as defending privilege for white Christians.

          • soter phile

            1) your argument here does not consider the evangelical understanding of sin. sin is the effect of the Fall. to say “gay people are inferior by design” would mean assigning ‘gayness’ to God’s design – which is something they explicitly do not believe. instead, since sin is an effect of the fall (which every evangelical believes they are under), and everyone needs a Savior (a staple of evangelical theology), sexual sin is as problematic as any other sin in that it warrants death. hard to say someone else is inferior at the foot of the cross.

            2) i’m willing for you to make those associations… but notice the flaw in the logic: many folks on *both* sides of the debate have used such logic. as a matter of fact, much of the Christian LGBT lobby wants at some level to use this logic (e.g., God’s sense of justice for the oppressed is evident in Scripture; how dare we not…?!). your argument brings them equally under fire. it’s self-defeating because its too broad.

            3) again, how am i defending heterosexual privilege? you seem to be co-opting a particular narrative. i’m merely pointing out how evangelicals think. to drive the point down, consider their foundational logic: “if I am holding a biblical point of view, my critics would equally say God is bigoted – which is patently untrue. I must obey God, not men.”

            in other words, the cultural ‘right side of history’ & ‘white privilege’ connotations you are bringing may be effective bases for arguing among progressives, but it fails to engage the authority/basis for belief among evangelicals. it’s the reason these groups yell at each other making arguments from within their own paradigms & talking right past one another. again, the staying power of MLK wasn’t just aggressive non-violence (or Ghandi would have staying power among evangelicals) – it was his ability to engage them within the integrity of their own beliefs & understanding of ultimate authority.

            if you want to actually engage those with whom you disagree (and not just shout them down) – which is what I think MLK wanted – it requires rightly understanding the basis for their beliefs. and again, claiming bigotry is their basis is disingenuous, if not purposefully obfuscating.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Again, disparaging minority relationships as being primarily about sexual sin has been done before. Do not compare my love with your sins.

            So, you’re saying that God’s sense of justice for the oppressed is the more equivalent of actually oppressing them?

            LGBT people are not “lobbying” for equality, they’re demanding it, fully and immediately. Justice delayed is still injustice.

            “”if I am holding a biblical point of view, my critics would equally say God is bigoted – which is patently untrue. I must obey God, not men.” You really don’t know how to not recycle old self-righteous, racist self-justifications for unearned privilege, do you?

            If you advocate discrimination for those of a minority sexual orientation as the ‘Book of Discipline does,’ you are defending unearned privilege for those of a majority sexual orientation.

            MLK shamed them by exposing their own pious conceits and condescending arrogance to themselves. Go read the ‘Letter from the Birmingham Jail.’

            I don’t want to “engage” with people who shamelessly create dangerous, even lethal minority stress, who disparage and dehumanize our relationships and justify discrimination against me and mine. I simply want them stop.

            Being loud, angry and cranky is something that a sickly old man can do, so that’s what I’m doing.

          • soter phile

            going in order of your thoughts…

            1) you keep saying “disparaging minority relationships” as though that were a given, but that is the very thing under debate (i.e., “minority” or “immoral”?). you can’t decide a debate by assuming the very thing under debate is already settled. That’s a logical fallacy. It’s the definition of begging the question.

            2) you said: “So…God’s sense of justice for the oppressed is the more equivalent of actually oppressing them?” no. Justice proper defines what is good & what is not. You’re projecting your views onto evangelicals here, which necessarily & falsely assigns malicious motives to them. (Hopefully that’s not a purposeful straw man on your part.) Re-consider your question from within the evangelical grid (in order to allow the integrity of the position) and the latter part of your question is farcical. God’s justice for the oppressed is never “actually” oppressing them… though I think your use of the term “actually” here betrays my point: you shifted from their understanding to your understanding mid-question – and then projected it onto them. It’s equivocating. That’s the “ships passing in the night” moment, when one group wrongfully assigns malicious intent to another group for lack of understanding. I hope it wasn’t intentional on your part.

            3) you said “ LGBT people are not ‘lobbying’ for equality, they’re demanding it.” again, evangelicals believe all people were made equal. That’s not the debate. But rather, does one’s views on sexuality match God’s views as expressed in Scripture? That’s the evangelical basis for weighing the question. In that perspective, evangelicals see the LGBT “demanding” of equal moral standing as a counterclaim to God’s sole authority – and there is no real justice apart from the One who defines Justice. To an evangelical, that’s basically claiming right & wrong should have equal standing for the sake of equality.

            4) To then say “justice delayed is still injustice” fails to understand:
            a) the cross is “justice delayed” for all Christians. We don’t get what we deserve. That’s mercy. To insist on justice in the face of such needed mercy is a failure to understand our current condition.
            b) yet again, what one group calls justice another group believes is biblically unjust. Using this phrase only shows a refusal to hear the evangelical critique.

            5) again, evangelicals are looking through a biblical lens. “Minority” & “majority” categories are of no ultimate consequence in that regard. It’s not about who has greater numbers (that’s a logical fallacy, too), but what does God say?

            6) if – as evangelicals claim – God’s Word regards these things as sin, “discrimination” is a false label. Otherwise, when Jesus says “go & sin no more” (Jn.5 & Jn.8), that would be “discrimination.” Shall we accuse Jesus of discrimination or say: how dare he defend his divine privilege? It becomes a laughable argument within the evangelical grid.

            7) Yes, certainly MLK shamed people. But I don’t think that’s what made him effective long-term, and I didn’t say I agreed with him on everything. Certainly his alleged adulterous affairs are not something many would affirm.

            8) as for “creating lethal minority stress”… take the famous Jn.8 passage of the adulterous woman brought to Jesus. Certainly Jesus was ‘defending’ her from being stoned (by other sinners who were self-righteous hypocrites), but his final comment to her was anything but an affirmation of her sexual sin. Does that make him an oppressor? Was that creating “lethal minority stress” or “dehumanizing her relationships”? Evangelicals do not see Jesus’ actions there as discrimination but rather as love.

            9) Being loud, angry and cranky has biblical precedent – especially on matters of injustice. But again – that is the entire debate at hand: what is the basis for defining ‘justice’? one does not have to agree with evangelicals in order to grant them the integrity (as well as hold their feet to the fire) of their articulated belief in the Bible as the Word of God. In that regard, if evangelicals are allowed the integrity of their belief system, categorically leveling the charge of bigotry is a disingenuous critique that certainly seems designed to prevent any real discussion rather than encourage mutual understanding.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Justice isn’t about deciding what is good and evil, but how to administer fairness.

            Your sexual orientation is a simply a given. Why would you even presume that a minority sexual orientation must be a dark, sinful and evil that must be oppressed, and your own is all goodness and light?

            A sexual orientation is not like adultery. Why are you disparaging, again, law abiding minority adults by comparing them all with sinful adulterers? How is cheating on your spouse like your own gender relationship orientation? Your doing so is creating minority stress.

            (Of course the burden of responsibility wouldn’t necessarily make all technically adulterous relationships a sinful relationship, at least in my Bible reading, but such a relationship was not part of the story. The story itself may have been inserted into John at some later date. The man she slept with would have also been on trial, I think. But that doesn’t make it any less a lesson to take to heart.)

            “yet again, what one group calls justice another group believes is biblically unjust. Using this phrase only shows a refusal to hear the evangelical critique.”

            We already know the history of white American conservative Evangelical critiques of, and the integrity of their belief system in regards to, women and minority peoples.

          • Guthrum

            It is not about discrimination, hatred, or some sort of “homophobia”. The leaders need to listen to the pastors and church members. They are not hateful or bigoted.
            Maybe one answer would be to leave this up to each church to decide.

          • Gregory Peterson

            People who advocate discrimination against law abiding minority adults are bigoted. That’s pretty much the core definition of bigoted.

            Letting each church decided to be officially bigoted or not does not excuse the denomination itself from being morally culpable in silencing, disrespecting the integrity, creating minority stress and oppressing minority people.

          • E DeLoges

            Letting gays exercise bigotry against every day people (like the small business in Indiana) does not excuse all OTHER gays of being morally culpable of this emotional and financial violence against those who dare disagree with you. By the way, where’s your attack on the Muslim culture within the US? What Muslim bakeries have you gone to, to protest? (there are many, by the way). Are you saying Muslims are bigots, simply because homosexuality is no permitted to be expressed through weddings in the Masjid?

          • Gregory Peterson

            “Protected class” is long settled law. We’ve been down this road before. Whey are “conservatives” once again dragging decent people down that road again?

            You don’t think that the racists back when I was young weren’t making the same argument to justify discrimination against an oppressed minority group? Go read the Citizens’ Councils newsletter, which in its editorial cartoons, pictured the NAACP as a menacing thug.

            Sexual orientation is a protected class in my states, and Muslim bakers here are in compliance with the law. We had made “race” a protected class years before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, back when the Evangelical dominated Bible Belt was hunkering down to protect Jim Crow by most any means possible.

            I use to live right next door to an Islamic Center. A couple of years ago, some wannabee terrorist tried to firebomb the place. When you attack my peaceful neighbors, you attack me. I don’t like that.

          • E DeLoges

            I’m not a conservative and I’m glad Muslims reject your sickness worldwide, Muslims know better, and no, Muslims do not bake cakes for gays (google the youtube videos of it) nor has any state agency sought to come after them for it (despite visible evidence), and let’s face it, we both know why the so-called LGBTQ community attacks “Evangelicals” and Mormons (most of whom could give a crap), because you don’t DARE challenge the black church, which is notoriously anti-gay, nor Islam…you like soft, peaceful (white) targets.

            And of course, the classic SJW tactic (too funny Vox Day was right! Lie, double down, project, 1,2,3 repeat), you happen to have had an Islamic Center next door that, in a strange reversal of the norm, was subject to an alleged “terrorist” attack. And you virtue signal and project “when you attack my peaceful neighbors”…Who’s attacking Islam?

            Hilarious. You people (yep, just said that) are so cliche…you literally follow the same play book each time.

            Guess what religion I am Gregory?…I’ll give you a hint (let’s see if you fall for it…better google around)…we have SIX principles that form our basic beliefs. Hmm…It starts with the oneness of God…lol. Too funny. No wonder 3,000 counties voted for Trump.

          • https://weseeinamirrordarkly.com Kirk Leavens

            You’re right about the “bigot” label. It does stop dialogue. I have many family and friends who sincerely believe SSM cannot be supported by Scripture. I have met a few bigots (people who cover their disgust and hatred of the LGBTQ community with a thin “Jesus veneer”) but bigotry is not the foundational problem, hermeneutics is.

            If we back up a 150 years to the beginning of the Liberal vs Fundamentalist divide we find a conflict as to how to understand the Bible. Liberals read the Bible like any other literature, critically. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, developed a doctrine that elevated Scripture above literary criticism. It was not a slam dunk as some Fundamentalists like James Orr argued against constraining Scripture to an inerrant straight jacket, but eventually a series of Bible conferences tied inerrancy of Scripture to the Fundamentalist hermeneutic.

            While Evangelicals are not exactly the same as Fundamentalists, the hermeneutical presupposition of inerrancy has greatly influenced the way Evangelicals use Scripture. First, as “God’s Word” the Bible has attained a certain detachment from it’s cultural settings. The verses of the Bible transcend time because God is not bound by time. This liberates the text from it’s original audience and creates stand-alone propositional “truths.” This, in turn populates a series of “rules” by which Christians are to abide by, and rules by which to judge others.

            Second, attempting to create propositional truths while bypassing the original context may mean the original intent is missed or misrepresented. Evangelicals are tempted to think that Biblical times are not all that different from modern times, that circumstances of old can easily transfer over to today’s circumstances. It can also lead to taking specific biblical situations and generalizing them for a wider group than was originally intended.

            Third, and I think this is where your argument with Gregory ended up, is does your theology end up oppressing others? When the Bible is reduced to a series of propositional truths, systemized into a system of does and don’ts people have a tendency to become objectified, to become labeled. This is exactly what Paul was seeking to avoid, a new system of rules to replace the old rules.

            In the case of the Evangelical response to Same Sex Marriage, all of the above comes into play. Progressive Christians are claiming Paul’s teaching on SS relations is being taken out of context. Paul, in Romans, mentions a certain group of individuals that were behaving badly in Roman culture as a lead into talking about the sins of self righteousness found among the religious conservatives of his day. The context does not suggest Paul was creating a universal rule about SS behavior, but was referring to a particularly egregious situation of sexual deviancy that was well known to his audience. We know from other ancient writings what the sexual practices were like in ancient Rome and it is nothing like modern SS relations, nor does Paul’s description of the people In Romans 1 fit modern SS relations.

            In lumping modern loving SS relations into the same boat with the abuses Paul is addressing in Romans, the LGBTQ community does indeed become objectified. Their personal dignity is disregarded in favor of a blanket accusation of sin from a church that has caused great harm to these gentle individuals over the centuries. What Evangelicals are now grappling with is whether or not they have misrepresented the LGBTQ community. With an upcoming generation of younger, more inclusive and questioning Evangelicals, the Evangelical community is going to change or become increasingly ineffectual.
            God bless.

          • Judgeforyourself37

            Please go back and read the wise words of Gregory Peterson, maybe then you will understand some of the history of the UMC that was earlier called the Methodist Episcopal Church. Google their history and learn that discrimination only leads to schism.

    • Guthrum

      No need to split. The leaders must not follow the disasters of other denominations that abandoned Biblical authority. The leaders need to listen to the members in the churches.

      • Gregory Peterson

        Self righteously claiming that Biblical authority demands discrimination against, and therefore segregation of minority people has been done before.

        How come American “conservatives” keep recycling old racist conceits against various minority groups, anyway? Are the doing that on purpose (which I doubt), or more likely, is the conceits of patriarchy and/or “whiteness” inextricable from conservative thinking?

      • JD

        Which members?

        The pro-LGBTI members? The anti-LGBTI members?

        Which members have more authority?

      • lcr999

        You mean we need to bring back slavery? And treat women as chattel?

    • Enrique Loper

      You are not a “minority” Gregory, simply because you call yourself one. Your attempts to marginalize ACTUAL minorities by confusing your specific sexual choices with people who are BORN black and brown is blatantly racist. I am SO GLAD we have Tom Perez leading the DNC now, just for this reason. And I thank the Methodists of color from not being fooled by Satan.

      • Gregory Peterson

        Disgusting…and perhaps unconsciously racist. Minorities are not always determined by “race.” Of course not all minorities are oppressed. Not a lot of Norwegian Americans, for instance, but white privilege has made my life less stressful and easier.

        Still, we remember that when my great grandparents came to America in the 1850’s, they were leaving a land where they were disfranchised second class citizens because they were born into a poor cotter family. If they found being second class citizens in their own country intolerable, so should I.

        This isn’t a matter about ‘sexual choices,’ this is a matter of gender relationship orientation. People with minority gender relationship orientations have been oppressed, and are being oppressed in various degrees around the world.

        Sexual orientation should be a protected class…and it is in my state, where us ‘Anglos’ are not a majority population.

        There are same gender loving people of color, of course, and they would likely much appreciate not being doubly oppressed.

        Not to mention that disparaging minority adult relationships as just being about “sexual choices” …”sinful” sexual choices, has been done before, as many of us older people can recall quite vividly.

        I don’t know many Methodists of color, the Black church isn’t my church, as you might expect from a Norwegian American raised in the excessively rural Great Plains. But the one person who meets that description that I do know who was raised in the Black Methodist church is Gay and an ordained minister… but not a United Methodist minister. It’s the UM’s loss.

        Tom Perez has a long history of supporting LGBT rights and is comfortable with legal recognition of minority gender relationship orientation marriages.

        In any case, loving Gay couples will marry, do marry, and will marry, with or without legal and/or religious recognition. I would think that society would be encouraging adults to marry and settle down… unless you think that anomic bombing, creating dangerous minority stress for certain minority people, as the UM is doing, is the godly thing to do. But…I think not.

        • E DeLoges

          Jesus never said that the scriptures applying to homosexuality were to be disregarded.

          • Gregory Peterson

            What do you mean by “homosexuality?” It’s modern era social construct.

          • E DeLoges

            No it isn’t. It’s a biological malfunction and genetic abnormality, characterized by hemispheric symmetry in both gay women and men. Gay activity has always been with us, and always will be, like pederasty (also favored by gays) and other sexual deviance. And what isn’t clear is why gays, who seek to have “gay marriage” (whatever that is) want to join a church that doesn’t accept them, and find in scriptures that which isn’t there, or reject that which is. The African church knows better and for that, we praise them.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Pathetic. Isn’t there something in the Bible about “reviling?” Go read it.

            Who cares why some people are Gay? You can operate heavy machinery while under the influence of Gay, and that is what really matters…being responsible, law abiding, tax paying citizens. LGBT people can do that, be that. Get out of their way.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

  • Gregory Peterson

    “Gay” is many things, Self-identity, community, an evermore interconnected, worldwide civil rights movement.

    And…a declaration of a certain sort of integrity and authenticity.

    Oppressors don’t much respect that integrity in minority people. They deny it, disparage it, subvert it…fear it. It is that sort of integrity which makes a young “rent boy” more believable than a prominent professor/psychologist in the anti-Gay Evangelical backlash organization, NARTH.

    They also disparage minority relationships as just being about sex, fornication, satisfying sinful lusts.

    So, how am I take this from the “Book of Discipline?’

    The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals1 are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.2

    1. “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. See Judicial Council Decisions 702, 708, 722, 725, 764, 844, 984, 1020

    2. See Judicial Council Decisions 984, 985, 1027, 1028

    It’s also very rude and bigoted to label people with terms they have rejected, such as “homosexual,” or for another minority group, “Negro.”

    Why, after the Civil Rights Movement, would a minority community allow people of obvious ill-will label and define them?

    • Robert Armstrong

      Now we see why the defeat of constitutional amendments which would separate the United Methodist Church in the United States from the worldwide United Methodist Church as far as making rules concerning same sex orientated people doomed the organization. Clearly the church in the United States cannot continue to exist unless it accepts same sex orientated people. But the worldwide communion is against this and has the power to prevent it.

      • Gregory Peterson

        Of course other countries don’t have our history with the Civil Rights Movement. S. Africa probably comes closest with the anti-apartheid movement. Australia also has a reprehensibly racist history, and a strong Gay Rights movement as well.

        But Japan, S. Korea, India, Thailand also have strong Gay rights movements…and oppression elsewhere suggests that there are sexual orientation minorities most everywhere else in non-Western societies.

        Evangelicals in Brazil have made themselves dangerous enemies of sexual orientation minorities, something which American Evangelicals seem to condone.

      • Guthrum

        No, the UMC is not “doomed”. Most UMC churches, pastors, and members want the church to adhere to the Bible. They do not want the UMC to follow the disastrous route taken by the PC USA, the Episcopal Church, and the ELCA. Those denominations abandoned Biblical authority, and abandoned their members, who left by the millions and in many cases took their churches with them.
        The UMC can avoid those disasters.

        • Gregory Peterson

          Of course, pro-slavery Evangelicals back when my great grandfathers were growing up, and segregationist Evangelicals back when my grandparents, parents, and myself were growing up, and anti-GBT equality Evangelicals today, have all accused their critics of abandoning Biblical authority.

          It’s not the relatively liberal wings that abandoned their members, it was the anti-“those people” churches who formally split with their denominations.

          They aren’t the victims of liberals.

        • Judgeforyourself37

          You spoke of “Biblical Authority,” and specified “liberal PC” and probably the fact that you feel that “being LBGT is against Christian teaching.”
          There is other “Biblical Authority” that states, that you must not consume shell fish, or pork, you must take your children to be ‘stoned’ meaning stoned to death, not smoke pot, if they are disobedient, women must keep silent in church, and be subservient to men.
          “Biblical Authority” further states that you must not wear clothing of different fibers. So, do you follow all of “Biblical Authority” or do you pick and choose which of those admonitions to follow? This sounds very hypocritical to me, and to others who follow Jesus’ directions which is to “Love God and love your neighbors as you would love yourself.” Your “neighbors” may just be LBGT and they deserve the same rights and rites as do you.

          • Anthony

            iving an active LBGT lifestyle (being physically and romantically involved with a person of the same-sex) is against Christian teaching.

            You claim that, if we take the scripture seriously then we should “not consume shell fish, or pork, you must take your children to be ‘stoned’ meaning stoned to death, not smoke pot, if they are disobedient, women must keep silent in church, and be subservient to men”

            First, your making a categorical error, if you want to compare a sin you don’t pick one that has to do with food, and put that into the same category as sexual immorality.

            Second, there are good reasons why we don’t abstain from eating selfish anymore, one of them being that the law was intended to keep Israel separated from the surrounding culture.

            You continue with asking the question of whether or not we should mix fabrics, again you’re confusing categories. Its not that we pick and choose which of the admonitions to follow, we follow Jesus and the new covenant.

            You also claim that anyone who does not see things the way you do, is being unloving towards his neighbors, this could not be further from the truth. If you in fact do love your neighbor, then you will tell them the truth, and the truth is that homosexuality is a sexually immoral sin. That doesn’t mean that we need to be uncharitable to homosexuals, one has nothing to do with the other, what we need to do is exercise tolerance, however tolerance does not mean you must agree with your neighbors lifestyle, it simply means you give them the right to disagree with you.

            If you want to love God with all your heart, and I believe you do, then you should be willing to cut out anything that God has deemed sin. Think of what Jesus said to the woman at the well, he first pointed out that she was a sinner, and the whole time he did this, he still showed love to her, and then told her to go and sin no more.

            We simply have no reason to think that homosexuality is viewed as anything other than a sin from a biblical perspective. If you disagree with that then id like to see your argument.

        • lcr999

          “Biblical Authority” does not speak well of divorce either, but we managed to get over that.

    • George Waite

      I’m glad I have nothing to do with religion-it’s so full of delusional and ignorant people.

      • https://weseeinamirrordarkly.com Kirk Leavens

        George if you have nothing to do with religion, why are you here? Do you miss us? If indeed, you are an agnostic, meaning you “do not know,” then your claims that we are “ignorant” is somewhat hypocritical would you not agree?

        • George Waite

          No, I don’t miss anyone or anything.
          No , I would not agree-and stop asking rhetorical questions, they’re pathetic and manipulative.

        • gewaite

          Why do people go to zoos?

  • Scot Hill

    …and the fighting continues in the comments…
    When my family and left conservative evangelicalism, we found solace within a reconciling UMC congregation. We have loved worshipping and serving with many folks who are excluded from the churches of our past.
    The combination of the conservatives within the UMC and the evangelicals during the presidential campaign has completely broken our trust in the institutional church. At this point, we are done with church. Whatever religious system promotes parents turing their gay children into the streets, institutional racism, posits a superior morality while embracing a lying, narcissistic, secular hedonist for president, is nothing in which I wish to take part.
    So conservatives, have your church and your Jesus. Enjoy your word, logic, and textual arguments. I don’t claim all your arguments are “wrong” simply irrelevant. You won’t miss me or my money. Should you come looking for me, I’ll be with the “poor in spirit.” I won’t be looking for you as you have kingdoms to conquer, “truth” to proclaim, buildings to complete, books to write, and Americanism to defend. Good Luck! (Oops, I mean, God bless!)

    • Robert Armstrong

      I can’t say I blame you. Liberal Christianity and Conservative, or as they prefer to call it “orthodox,” Christianity are entirely different versions of Christianity. They differ from each other as Catholicism differs from Protestant Christianity. The war between Protestants and Catholics was a far more bitter war than the one between Liberals and Conservatives, at least so far. They actually killed people in that one. Since you are clearly looking for a totally liberal congregation I might suggest a congregation affiliated with the United Church of Christ of the Unitarian Universalists. Churches such as the United Methodists, which claim to be worldwide Christian communions are stuck with the fact liberal Christianity is a primarily Western phenomenon that simply doesn’t exist in most of the world. Which means that for worldwide communions such as the Catholics, Orthodox and the United Methodists it will be a long time before they are accepting of same sex orientated and other sexually different people. There is simply nothing you or I can do about it.

      • George Waite

        What, are you suggesting that gay rights originated in middle/upper middle class White enclaves and that that’s where they still get their chief support?
        I’m stunned!

        • Robert Armstrong

          I hadn’t thought of it that way but I guess you could say that without being wrong. I suspect if you did a sociological study of who supports gay rights and who doesn’t you would find middle and upper middle class white people disproportionally represented. You would probably also find these people live in the United States, particularly on the east and west coasts, and in western Europe.

          • George Waite

            Basically Chris Hedges is correct: identity politics is a boutique issue.

          • Gregory Peterson

            “This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation. The denial of civil rights to black Americans had at its core the idea that a black American should not be allowed to vote because that black American was not white. The endless questioning, before the election of Obama, about America’s “readiness” for a black President was a reaction to white identity politics. Yet “identity politics” has come to be associated with minorities, and often with a patronizing undercurrent, as though to refer to nonwhite people motivated by an irrational herd instinct. White Americans have practiced identity politics since the inception of America, but it is now laid bare, impossible to evade.”

            Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

            NOW IS THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT WHAT WE ARE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT
            December 2, 2016
            http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/now-is-the-time-to-talk-about-what-we-are-actually-talking-about

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2016/12/15/smart-people-saying-smart-things-12-15/#

          • https://weseeinamirrordarkly.com Kirk Leavens

            Its an interesting phenomenon that whites Evangelicals have overwhelmingly voted as a “block” in this presidential election yet always seem to balk at any recognition of minority groups as a valid subgroup within society. The #Black Lives Matter was almost immediately dissed by Whites saying all lives matter. Amongst many of my Evangelical family and friends the only valid, American viewpoint about Gays, incarceration of Blacks, police brutality, refugees, etc., is from a decidedly White, Evangelical viewpoint. This type of identity politics goes back to the very founding of America as you have pointed out. The yearning for a “Christian Nation” is as old as the first Pilgrim colonies. There has always been an element on the Right wanting a decidedly Protestant country. A great book on this is Stephen Prothero’s “Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When they Lose Elections)”

          • Marja Erwin

            For many people, these are survival politics.

            How many homeless kids are lgb and/or t kids kicked out by hostile parents?

          • George Waite

            Those who pat themselves on the back for being “progressive” seldom have to worry about survival.

          • Marja Erwin

            Those who have to worry about survival have every right to demand survival. It’s not a botique issue.

          • gewaite

            Then why is this typically a middle/upper middle class issue?

          • Gregory Peterson

            Nevertheless, GLBT people are in all income and education levels.

            http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/03/the-myth-of-gay-affluence/284570/

    • George Waite

      Celebrate your self-righteous, “progressive” diversity!
      I’m an agnostic-you’re just Exhibit # 2,309 for “Why Religion is a Freak Show”.
      You and the Fundiegelicals deserve each other.

      • Scot Hill

        I concede your agnosticism but question your reading comprehension and ability to formulate a response devoid of logical fallacies. Additionally, I’m exhibit #1989 (not 2309) and have the freak show card to prove it. Now, go argue with someone who disagrees with you.

        • George Waite

          Which are-where? Point out these logical fallacies, please.

          • Scot Hill

            No George, I won’t do you homework for you.
            Seek a more peaceful path, I’m not the first to point out that you have some anger issues. Rather than quarrel with strangers who have done you no harm, consider investing more time in meaningful real life relationships. I have found therapy, family and friends to be very helpful in this endeavor. I encourage you to invest in your emotional, psychological and physical health.
            Now, I know you need to have the last word in a discussion to validate your personhood but before you do-ask yourself why that is your pattern.
            Go do something good for yourself and be well. Bye, George.

          • George Waite

            Then you’re lazy.

          • Scot Hill

            Ad hominem. Thanks for proving everyone of my points. Merry Christmas and thanks for the laugh. You made my day!

          • gewaite

            Church is boring.

          • George Waite

            “Anger issues”=pathetic passive-aggression masked as psychoanalysis.
            Thanks for revealing the pathetically empty heart inside the “caring” of faith.

          • Scot Hill

            It was the middle of the day, you were bored and you just had to get the last word in on someone. George, you are so predictable. Cute “Anger issues” comment. Looks like it took 3 months for you to think that one up. Think faster George or you will never catch up with everyone else. So many people to argue with, so many people you need to enlighten with your keen intellect. The conversation has moved on George. Your inevitable reply will prove how impossible it is for you to live in the present. #sadliketrump
            #seelittleGeorgenotletitgo

          • George Waite

            Thank you, Jesus.

  • Steve Weber

    The gospel of man-made Protestant Methodism is not only getting lost in the US, but is a few decades will become obsolete for most. By 2020 it will be not number three in the US, but rank as fourth largest Christian church in America. Of course by 2050 there will be but a few followers. To make a long story short, many denominations will eventually unite one with another until we have on two major “churches” in the world. Each will have their own distinct doctrines. One will be recognized by Christ as his church, the other will be antiChrist. Of course these will always be small factions around, trying to figure out there role in a complex religious society. The Book of revelations describes the church of the Devil. Protestants today think off themselves as one church, the true church of Jesus Christ. But since these are all man made religions with false and conflicting doctrines, how could the Savior acknowledge them as one church with a unity of the faith as we know them today. And many teach that there is a thing called a rapture, a secret appearance of Christ to take up Christians. To make it simple Christ directs his church through his divine servants, apostles and prophets today as he did anciently, to confound false churches with their deceptive doctrines. It does not conform to the precepts of the world, but stands as a witness to God’s divine Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth today. His gospel is going throughout the earth with one Lord, one faith and one kind of baptism in a sectarian world. Truth shall prevail, as the Savior continues to reveal from the heavens his will as his gospel fills the earth in these latter days. That marvelous work and wonder spoken from the Old Testament proclaims another ancient record, the Book of Mormon, which identifies true religion. From almost every page, it testifies of Jesus Christ throughout its 600 pages as it was translated for that purpose. This ancient scripture will bring people to the true knowledge of the resurrected Christ, and the restored gospel. This book will indeed change the world, bringing happiness to those who follow their Savior – that is the promise of the Book of Mormon.

    • Nick G

      Yes! America has elected a lying con-artist and lecher as President – why not follow a lying con-artist and lecher in your religion as well?

      • Douglas Beachler

        Which lying con-artist, lecherous President are you referring to? As we approach the days of Noah again, time is running out. Cling to Faith, not dogma.

      • Tenor Sax

        At least he doesn’t hang around bath houses.

    • E DeLoges

      Respect,.

  • Enrique Loper

    Christy Thomas is a racist, is what many will think reading this. A white woman of privilege talks about Africans as though somehow their vote doesn’t count, as part of the body of Christ, and when she doesn’t get her way, as a white woman, she says the “The UMC will have to dissolve.” How DARE she suggest that simply because the US United Methodists “fund the African” church, that somehow that gives what are essentially White Methodists (look at the stats in the US) the right to act as though they have more of a say than our black brothers and sisters is the height of hate, bigotry and frankly, emotional violence. And then the whole UMC must dissolve?

    The UMC should immediately disavowal these comments by a retired UMC elder. I’m still in shock and so are many others who have seen this, particularly in our community of color.

    I hope, as any Christian would, that Christy Thomas repents of these nasty, hateful, bigoted comments against people of color, simply because they don’t “look like her” and have a “different opinion”.

  • Jim Gooch

    Well, dissolution is doable. We did it in the Presbyterian Church. It’s painful and leaves scars, but a remnant remains.

  • andweav

    There is a war presently raging in this country, no less devisive or tragic than the Civil War we endured over 135 years ago. It is a culture war, and the sides have drawn the line in the sand, dug their trenches, and armed their warriors. I believe that the Left, and its ideologically radical allies, began the conflict. And, they have forced all sentient Americans to chose a side (not cole slaw or onion rings)! The rational, concilliatory middle ground has been bombed out, and those who encompassed that region of thought have been slain or forced to move to one of the warring camps. With this environment, it is impossible to continue as a united church! Remember- a house divided cannot stand…

  • Tenor Sax

    I dropped out years ago when the UMC joined the World Council of Churches and supported Communist guerrillas in Africa. Yes, a long, long time ago and a lot of non involvement. No regrets. Wouldn’t want my granddaughter to be exposed to this “modern” Church for sure.

  • Jim j

    I left 17 years ago when God saved me after hearing a gospel never expressed in that local church. The pastor was dead set against the Bible being taught in public schools. When I told the music director I was leaving to attend a God fearing Bible believing church with verse by verse teaching she responded by saying that’s what she liked that church because she didn’t have to hear things she didn’t care to hear. If in fact God was still with you you wouldn’t look like the world. Sin would be called sin and repented of. Human wisdom is foolishness according to the scriptures and never saved anyone. Jesus is returning to destroy His enemies but His Mercy is available today! Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Repent and turn in faith to the One who bore God’s wrath for your sins and mine and be saved!

  • Anthony

    This is a very serious matter, I think splitting is inevitable. Nowhere in Scripture is homosexuality looked upon favorably.

    • lcr999

      No where is scripture is Divorce looked upon favorably. And , for that matter, very few places in scripture are women looked upon favorably. On the other hand, slavery is condoned. Go figure.

      • Anthony

        First things first, divorce is still not looked upon favorably, we do have places in scripture in which woman are looked upon favorably, so if you are attempting to draw a comparison you’re not doing so good.

        You’re slavery comment is probably largely do to your narrow view of a particular book and not drawn from the biblical message as a whole.

        • lcr999

          Yes , despite clear condemnation of divorce in the bible, we manage to ordain divorced people into the clergy. And despite clear instructions to the contrary, we also ordain women. And yes, slavery is tolerated throughout the entire bible and condoned in the majority of it. And your narrow view of homosexuality is probably drawn from your narrow view of a few old testament passages and not from the biblical message as a whole

          • Anthony

            You wrote
            “Yes , despite clear condemnation of divorce in the bible, we manage to ordain divorced people into the clergy.”

            Ok, then maybe we should take a stronger stance on that too. I don’t see how that is an argument for changing the very clear teaching found in the Bible regarding homosexuality.

            You wrote
            “And despite clear instructions to the contrary, we also ordain women.”

            We have good arguments for that, you have not presented any arguments for why we should think we got it all wrong when it comes to homosexuality.

            You wrote
            “And yes, slavery is tolerated throughout the entire bible and condoned in the majority of it.”

            That is simply incorrect, it is not condoned throughout the entire bible, I suggest that you pick up the book Is God A Moral Monster by Paul Copan.

            You wrote
            “And your narrow view of homosexuality is probably drawn from your narrow view of a few old testament passages and not from the biblical message as a whole”

            No, that too is simply incorrect.
            In the OT, homosexuality is unequivocally condemned. Homosexual sex is prohibited in the law (Lv 18:22; 20:13) and called an abomination. However, homosexuality is not singled out as being any different or any more worthy of condemnation than any other sexual sin. God’s attitude toward homosexuality is portrayed in the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn 19). Ezekiel includes among the sins of Sodom “immoral acts,” using the same term as in Leviticus 18 to describe homosexual acts (Ezk 16:43; cp. Jd 7). The law condemns all homosexual sex and does not distinguish between perverted and wholesome homosexual relationships.
            The central NT passage that addresses homosexuality is Romans 1:24–27 (cp. 1 Co 6:9; 1 Tm 6:10). It is set in the context of the condemnation of those who reject God as revealed in creation, or through natural law. It is part of Paul’s broader argument for the universality of sin and judgment, setting the need for the believer to be justified by faith in Christ’s atoning death on the cross, outlined in Romans 4–5. Those who rejected the available knowledge of God and chose instead to worship the Greek and Roman idols faced lifestyle consequences. One of these consequences was homosexual behavior. Paul appealed to the natural order of creation to condemn homosexual behavior (Rm 1:27).

            Homosexuality is a consequence of rejecting the created order.

            Paul’s appeal to a universal truth about sexual relations linked to the order of creation (Mt 19:4–6) should be a major red flag from seeing this passage as limited to certain kinds of homosexual behavior. His teaching provides an appropriate context for a judgment on all same-gender sexual relationships.

            Yet these verses clearly show that homosexuality is not “natural” but instead is “unnatural” and “shameless.” Paul wrote in 1 Co 6:9 that practicing homosexuals, along with sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will not enter the kingdom of God.

            Keep in mind that Paul went on to say, “Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Co 6:11). This is a clear indication that we should not remain in our sin, but rather repent and follow Christ.

          • Anthony

            You wrote
            “Yes , despite clear condemnation of divorce in the bible, we manage to ordain divorced people into the clergy.”

            Ok, then maybe we should take a stronger stance on that too. I don’t see how that is an argument for changing the very clear teaching found in the Bible regarding homosexuality.

            You wrote
            “And despite clear instructions to the contrary, we also ordain women.”

            We have good arguments for that, you have not presented any arguments for why we should think we got it all wrong when it comes to homosexuality.

            You wrote
            “And yes, slavery is tolerated throughout the entire bible and condoned in the majority of it.”

            That is simply incorrect, it is not condoned throughout the entire bible, I suggest that you pick up the book Is God A Moral Monster by Paul Copan.

            You wrote
            “And your narrow view of homosexuality is probably drawn from your narrow view of a few old testament passages and not from the biblical message as a whole”

            No, that too is simply incorrect.
            In the OT, homosexuality is unequivocally condemned. Homosexual sex is prohibited in the law (Lv 18:22; 20:13) and called an abomination. However, homosexuality is not singled out as being any different or any more worthy of condemnation than any other sexual sin. God’s attitude toward homosexuality is portrayed in the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn 19). Ezekiel includes among the sins of Sodom “immoral acts,” using the same term as in Leviticus 18 to describe homosexual acts (Ezk 16:43; cp. Jd 7). The law condemns all homosexual sex and does not distinguish between perverted and wholesome homosexual relationships.
            The central NT passage that addresses homosexuality is Romans 1:24–27 (cp. 1 Co 6:9; 1 Tm 6:10). It is set in the context of the condemnation of those who reject God as revealed in creation, or through natural law. It is part of Paul’s broader argument for the universality of sin and judgment, setting the need for the believer to be justified by faith in Christ’s atoning death on the cross, outlined in Romans 4–5. Those who rejected the available knowledge of God and chose instead to worship the Greek and Roman idols faced lifestyle consequences. One of these consequences was homosexual behavior. Paul appealed to the natural order of creation to condemn homosexual behavior (Rm 1:27).

            Homosexuality is a consequence of rejecting the created order.

            Paul’s appeal to a universal truth about sexual relations linked to the order of creation (Mt 19:4–6) should be a major red flag from seeing this passage as limited to certain kinds of homosexual behavior. His teaching provides an appropriate context for a judgment on all same-gender sexual relationships.

          • lcr999

            Well, until you attack divorce with the same fervor that you are pontificating about homosexuality, I will take your rantings to be merely about you opinion of sex and not about biblical fidelity.

          • Anthony

            You said
            “Well, until you attack divorce with the same fervor that you are pontificating about homosexuality, I will take your rantings to be merely about you opinion of sex and not about biblical fidelity.”

            Hold on, what I did was present an argument for my position, that is very different from a rant. You on the other hand have not presented any arguments for your position. The issue is not simply about fidelity, if it was then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. If you do not have a reason for why you think we got it all wrong with respect to homosexuality then just say so.