It’s time. Blow up the UMC. My own breaking point.

These responses may be the breaking point for me. A church based on a theology of grace operates with the same nastiness of our current political discourse.


shattered car windshield looks like my breaking point
My breaking point, via Visual Hunt and Creative Commons

I had planned a gentle, thoughtful post here. I have, after all, billed myself as the Thoughtful Pastor, although some certainly question the appropriateness of my claim.

My proposed starting place would include kind commentary on a recent Peggy Noonan column in the Wall Street Journal. I thought it was superb. However, the comments, probably the majority of them made by white, affluent men, vociferously disagreed. Many hurled insults at Noonan.

At that point, I saw a segue into the expected complex events of this week when the UMC Judicial Council will meet to face the most momentous questions ever before them. Their answers (or non-answers, as that is an option for them) will determine the future of the UMC. Sam Hodges has written an excellent summary of the issues.

No matter what the judiciary decides, of course, a significant percentage of UMC’ers will legitimately find fault with their decisions.

Now, at this point, I was going to launch into a philosophical rabbit hole about the current difficulties of finding shared understanding.

But then something else happened.

A couple of days ago, I posted on a UMC clergy Facebook page a blog piece written by a former pastor (not UM) with a transgender son. I’ve been following their journey for a while. The dad has written with great vulnerability about how his son’s reality has taught him what love is about.

I am now going to quote from the blog that this parent published from the fallout of my original post:

The person who shared my post in their group is a friend who supports me and my son. She is clergy. I suspect that she believed the reaction would be more warm. My assumption is that these are all UMC ministers, but I do not know if that is correct. Perhaps they allow non UMC and non Clergy to join.  Anyway, let’s jump in. Shall we? Here are some quotes:

  • “These stories, though moving, do not change the situation. These complex issues are not determined by the measure of impact they may have on others.”-Alan Miller (Sr Pastor, Mt Pleasant United Methodist Church)

  • “So..If my child is a murderer, and I continue to love him….We should change the Theological stance of the church…I love my son’s in spite of anything they have done…That is called being a good father…But it does not change God’s word…I know a bit extreme…But all I read was the story of a father who loves his son…No matter what’s lifestyle the son chose…Not. A Theological or Biblical discussion…But a father’s love…And a good reminder that even while we were yet sinners…God loves us…But we must accept His forgiveness…it is a real story of a father and his love of his son…he cares for him dearly, and a good father loves his son in spite of what he has done (thus the allusion to a murderer.) I highly admire this Father for showing his love for his son.”-Jimmy Boone (West Florida Conference, UMC)

  • “The day we change our beliefs and principles because they all of a sudden pertain to people we love, we are doomed. How can they call it “harm” if God said it? Does God cause harm?”-Andreas Kjernald (Pastor at Mysen Metodiskirke, Norway)

  • “Remember: When an ordained clergy person is teaching something contrary to Church teaching, they are by definition doing harm…So, yes, there is a tremendous amount of harm being done by folks in the UMC. But a good deal of it is coming from the progressive wing. I hope we ALL welcome all people, even if we can never affirm all behavioral choices.”-Keith Mcilwain (Pastor-UMC)

  • “This is going to continue. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.”-William R Brown (First and Moore United Methodist Church of Parsons) *To be fair, this one was not in direct response to my article but in regard to this very debate regarding GLBTQIA acceptance.*

These responses may be breaking point for me. A church based on a theology of grace operates with no more gracefulness than the nastiness of our current political discourse. We have debased ourselves.

I’m outside the bubble now–and it looks different out here.

I retired as an active clergy person just over three years ago. It was a painful, complex decision to take early retirement, and full of financial pitfalls.

But the unexpected result is that I no longer live in a Christian bubble. I especially don’t live in a Christian bubble defined by the United Methodist Church, a church I love and served with an enormous sense of privilege.

For years, I’ve known that the UMC has no future. I first became aware of our problematic continued existence when watching the 2012 General Conference.  It became particularly clear by the Judicial Council decisions six months later. The 2016 GC, where I served as part of the United Methodist Reporter team, solidified it.

Now that I am more in the business world than the church world, I see many things differently now–but I still see with love for the UMC.

The problems are structural, not doctrinal, in nature

Most of the problems are actually structural. We argue over doctrine and sexuality but that’s the surface presentation of deeper malfunctions.

First, the whole idea of guaranteed appointment for clergy drags everyone down to the lowest level. Massive energy is wasted taking care of, moving and moving again, not just ineffective but just plain bad clergy people. No healthy organization does this.

Second, without guaranteed appointment, the whole system of itinerant clergy must end. The system can’t send clergy just anywhere, ripping them from spousal employment, disrupting their children’s education, and putting them in churches with a long history of decline without a guarantee.

I’ll not bother to mention that the whole career ladder thing is profoundly unbiblical, rife with corruption and leads to massive breaches of trust among the clergy.

Third, the amount of money that is spent trying to prop up churches that have become totally inward-focused and refuse to grow borders on the obscene. As a gardener, this one thing I know: anything alive will expend most energy to reproduce itself and grow. A church that declines to remain in the growth and reproductive cycle needs to be ripped up, placed on the compost heap, and let its remains serve as fertilizer for healthy churches and new plantings.

Fourth, decision making that depends upon majority votes has no place in Christian organizations. Never forget that the majority supported the killing of Jesus. Popularity has never, ever made something right or holy. Just because a church is growing doesn’t mean God is blessing it. Weeds and cancers also grow rapidly.

When votes are close, and many crucial ones are, it leads to a distinct winners/losers feud. Furthermore, throughout most of human history, it is the voice of the minority that has spoken with the strongest prophetic voices. Our system efficiently silences the prophets among us who call us back to God and away from sin.

clean or dirty, pure or impure
Shall we just call some human beings mistakes? Really?

But fifth, and this one is the final death knell, a church that says it is based upon the grace of God but consistently heaps disdain and condemnation on those whose lives do not fit a purity code is a church that has no idea of how radical the message of Jesus actually was and still is. The roots of purity laws come from the Levitical/ancient Middle Eastern notion that everything was either pure or impure. I’ve written much about this over the years, but I think this post is the most important. It gives a simplified history of the purity code and asks us what we will do with the Intersexed who cannot fit under any circumstances. I have yet to see an answer.

But back to me for a moment: the hate-filled comments of my fellow clergy toward a young man who has finally found peace with himself has brought me to the breaking point. It’s indeed time to break-up. The UMC must die to its prejudicial sin.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jim Johnson

    Just because we think differently doesn’t mean that we have to be mean. Unfortunately IMHO the culture warriors on each side seem to do a great job of lobbing verbal grenades at their opponents. I think you’re right it’s time to split this thing up and let each group focus on what ministry looks like to them

    • Mark1115

      False equivalencies like that reveal a lack of moral understanding.

      • scott stone

        So you are arbiter of what is moral?

        • Jim Johnson

          No he’s just an asshat

          • Jim Johnson

            And nevermind again. I hate when I hit the send button when I’m ticked off

          • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

            If I may be so bold as to give some advice – bearing in mind I’m both Intersex and Atheist…

            1 Corinthians 13 is pretty good on the subject. If you act out of Charity, with Kindness, you may go wrong, but it won’t be very wrong.

            Conversely, if you obey God’s Holy Law in every respect, every jot and tittle, with all knowledge and Faith that moves mountains, but do not do so out of Kindness, you’ve lost the plot, missed the point, and have gone far astray.

            This works pretty well for Atheists too. Be Kind. All else is commentary. Being correct about the existence or otherwise of gods is irrelevant without Charity.

  • Keith Jenkins

    As you know, Christy, I share many of your same frustrations, and I was also sickened and heart-broken by many of the hateful and arrogant comments by fellow UM clergy on that same thread you refer to. If I were you, I would be tempted to delete the original post in order to consign all those nasty comments to cyber oblivion, then repost the original. A clean slate approach. Unfortunately, that also deletes all the positive comments and brave testimonials.

    As for your experience of being done, I share that too, but not with my whole heart. I remain torn. Some days I’m ready to bolt, but on other days, I can’t imagine not being a United Methodist any more. It has been one of the defining points of my life.

    So, if it helps at all to know there are kindred spirits out there, count me in.

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

      It does help and I do appreciate your kind and good words. And I do think it is too late to delete the OP, although it does mean there are multiple strands of conversation going on FB right now.

  • Maura Hart

    get out! run! run like the wind! save yourself and your family from the haters in the name of christ. enough mythology and fear and rage!!!

  • Matthew Baugh

    What you’ve said is important, not just for the UMC but for American Christians as a whole.Thank you.

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

      Thank you. I keep hoping my small voice will have some effect toward a more just and holy church.

  • Guthrum

    The UMC has the opportunity to avoid the disastrous paths taken by the Episcopal Church US, Presbyterian Church USA, and the ELCA. These mainline denominations ignored the church members’ opinions and views. They have lost millions of members, millions of dollars in funds, and thousands of churches. Look at the Episcopal organization. Their previous head bishop preached apostate doctrinal stands that went against Biblical teachings.
    The UMC leaders need to avoid positions and policies that divide. They need to show patience and not make rash decisions. They need to include all church members in decision making. The mainline denominations have become bureaucratic top down organizations. That is why independent, non-denominational churches are growing.
    Their main priority should be bringing people to Jesus.

    • Mark1115

      So they should abandon Jesus in favor of ‘homosexuality is sin’, continue to drive millions of people way from God.

    • Liutgard

      Really? *Which* teachings of Rev Katherine’s are you calling apostate? And by whose measure? By those of the Episcopal Church? Because I would think that the ECUSA is the only body that could declare her apostate or not. If you are of another denomination, it’s not your call.

    • Janine Goodwin

      “Positions and policies that divide” include policies that divide LGBTQ people from their families and churches. Don’t pretend that the division is other peoples’ fault. There is a body of biblical scholarship that shows why there is no real “Biblical teaching” against the lives of gay people but scriptures have been warped out of context and used to hurt people whom Jesus loves.

  • scott stone

    “I hope we ALL welcome all people, even if we can never affirm all behavioral choices.”-Keith Mcilwain (Pastor-UMC)”
    Why do you consider this to be “hate-filled”? I was a Methodist at one point but then left for a more community based church. Progressives accuse almost everyone that has a different opinion as someone who is filled with hate, or a racist, sexist, bigot, et al.
    The obsession with sexual identity is itself a sin. Our identity is to be in Christ alone. I’m baffled why sexual identity had become the raison d’être for the left.
    I affirm and support SSM and equal rights but it seems to be a topic you are not allowed to question. I’ll have to find the article that I recently read regarding psychiatrists unwilling to recommend psychological treatment for anyone diagnosed wth gender dysmorphia for fear of retribution.

    • Mark1115

      “The obsession with sexual identity is itself a sin.”
      How ironic, because anti-gay theology is the real obsession with sexual identity, it damns people for having the wrong one, and attempts to coerce GLBTQ people into going against their natural, God-given sexual orientation, and commit sin by having sex that is unnatural for them to appease the idol of heterosexist identity theology.

      “Progressives accuse almost everyone that has a different opinion as
      someone who is filled with hate, or a racist, sexist, bigot, et al.”

      Bearing false witness like that is sin.

      “Why do you consider this to be “hate-filled”?”

      Well, for one thing, it reduces the totality of the lives and relationships of GLBTQ people to ‘behavioral choices’. That is extremely dehumanizing.

      “I’m baffled why sexual identity had become the raison d’être for the left.”

      While I understand why people like you lie about the actual issue – which is the brutal oppression and destruction of GLBTQ people because of your adoration of your sexual identity.

      After all, as you’ve been whining here, gay men in Chechnya are being rounded up into concentration camps, tortured and executed, as the deliberate expression of ‘homosexuality is sin’. Yet you are actually trying to make those of us who fight that evil oppression out to be the bad guys.

      ” I’ll have to find the article that I recently read regarding
      psychiatrists unwilling to recommend psychological treatment for anyone
      diagnosed wth gender dysmorphia for fear of retribution.”

      And odds are, it will come from a right-wing hate group with a history of opposing the civil rights and human dignity of transfolk.

      • scott stone

        I completely agree with you regarding the obsessioon by those on the right regarding their anti-gay positions. I should have done a better job clarifying my position. But on the Progressive Christian it is probably the dominant topic. No single topic is discussed more than sexual identity (although since the election Trump comes close.) I just find that to be rather odd.
        I do take issue with you saying I lied about something. I’m not sure where that is coming from.

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

          The reason it has become so important to Progressives is that we choose to remain faithful to our baptismal vows and must, therefore, fight the kind of oppression being brought upon our brothers and sisters who are not cis-gendered.

          • scott stone

            I could be so way off base here and I’m willing to admit that upfront. I don’t really want to get into a discussion about the theological position on SSM, trans rights and sexual identity. Keeping faithful to a Christ centered position, I view myself with the limitations that all human beings have. We are limited in time, talent, and resources. I just find it odd that so much time is spent on the topic of sexual identity by progressive Christians. Like I said previously, I just find that to be rather odd.
            I also find it to be disturbing, the very un-Christ like response from so called Christians when anyone dares to express an alternative position. Your visceral reaction to those who held a differing view was to lable them “hate-filled.” That is more of a reflection of your character than anything else. Most people are not like the crazies from the Westboro Baptist. Many struggle with squaring a position that is antithetical to past institutional foundations. The vitriol seems to be most prevalent on the left, directed at those who hold an alternative view point. Look at college campuses.
            i’m a proponent of SSM, it’s all about love. But when I start reading that doctors are nervous about diagnosing someone with gender dysphoria because they fear retribution, I want to be able to discuss that without immediately being labeled a bigot or transphobe or whatever. The left is becoming George Bush, You’re either with us or against us.

          • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

            . I’ll have to find the article that I recently read regarding psychiatrists unwilling to recommend psychological treatment for anyone diagnosed wth gender dysmorphia for fear of retribution.

            Gender dysmorphia? Do you mean Gender Dysphoria? “Gender Dysmorphia” is a phrase, like Drapetomania, the “mental illness” seen in runaway slaves unhappy to be whipped by their Christian masters. It is a political diagnosis, like “sluggish schizophrenia with delusions of democracy”, a diagnosis popular when describing dissidents in the late unlamented USSR.

            But no matter. Regarding psychiatrists “unwilling to recommend psychological treatment”, and even fearing castigation if they do, that is quite correct. Psychiatrists are also unwilling to recommend leeches to remove melancholy humors, skull trepanning to let out evil spirits and the like, for similar fears of critique by their peers.

            ” Treatment aimed at trying to change a person’s gender identity and lived gender expression to become more congruent with sex assigned at birth has been attempted in the past (Gelder & Marks, 1969; Greenson, 1964), yet without success, particularly in the long term (Cohen-Kettenis & Kuiper, 1984; Pauly, 1965). Such treatment is no longer considered ethical. ”

            That’s from the medical standards of care for Gender Dysphoria, version 7, of 2011.

            Note the dates on these studies. We have known for half a century that not only do the kinds of “psychiatric treatment” you are referring to not work, they damage patients.

            Various Religious groups continue to claim that these methods have never been tried, and advocate and actually practice them. What they don’t do is report the mountain of corpses and psychological cripples their “treatment” leaves behind. They ignore the many, many studies and experiments that were performed before it was clear that these “treatments” were not only ineffective, but caused harm. This is wilful blindness, there are too many to ignore otherwise.

            Psychological treatment is, however, most often provided and required in cases of Gender Dysphoria, as part of a triadic therapy. Only a minority of cases don’t need it, and even they can usually benefit. Gender Dysphoria often leads to familial rejection, being cast out by school, church, and local society. It can lead to physical assault and rape, and then being imprisoned while the perpetrators go free. Discrimination in the workplace is almost universal, homelessness due to being refused the opportunity to rent, or just being unable to get a job, common.

            Such treatment most often causes psychological damage, as does the unremitting hatred for them expressed in various publications, national newspapers, theological journals, and state legislatures. The hatred is unceasing, and it takes an abnormal mind, one rather stronger or more resilient than most, not to get too badly damaged by that. All get hurt, but not all get damaged. Those that are damaged really do require professional support, and this is always offered. Like Chicken Soup, it can’t hurt…

            Many who get damaged badly by life’s vicissitudes, the death of an only child for example, can often find comfort in their community and pastoral guidance.

            Trans, and Intersex people, are more likely to be told by clergy that while suicide is a sin, in their case the Almighty would understand.

            From a professional theologian and guidance counsellor on the religious site, http://catholicexchange.com
            > “Now I am going to say something that may seem harsh but remember I am talking to you about objective reality – where the rubber meets the road. It is better to die than to offend God.”

            Hence the need for professional, competent psychological support. Going to such a “Christian Counsellor” can be fatal, and while there are many Christians of various denominations who can be helpful, I would never recommend a patient seeing a member of the Association of Christian Counsellors, nor many of the more paleolithic members of the psychiatric profession.

          • Mark1115

            “I just find it odd that so much time is spent on the topic of sexual
            identity by progressive Christians. Like I said previously, I just find
            that to be rather odd.”

            It is very simple: anti-gay theology produces significant, real and pervasive evil. Jesus taught that what we do, or fail to do, for the oppressed in society, we do or fail to do for Him.

            So when you dismiss the importance of protecting GLBTQ people from oppression, you do that to Jesus.

            “Your visceral reaction to those who held a differing view was to lable them “hate-filled.””

            Nice slander through generalization, it is sin on your part. The condemnation of homosexuality, which you characterize and trivialize as a ‘differing view’ is an manifestation hate. Sure, you deliberately avoid the violence and brutality that ‘differing view’ inflicts on millions of people, but that is your sin.

            “The vitriol seems to be most prevalent on the left,”

            Only to those on the right, who are intrinsically complicit in the oppression of GLBTQ people, and in oppressing GLBTQ people, they oppress Christ as well.

        • xnlover

          I have never heard of any conservative UMs who have committed suicide because the church to which they belong has affirmed LGBTQ persons. But I have heard of many LGBTQ persons who have committed suicide because their pastors and churches have rejected them, even when they have spent many years and countless energies participating in and supporting a church that they love. If driving people to suicide is not something everyone should take up as a “dominant topic” until something is done to stop it, especially when those who drive people in such a way do so in the name of Christ, I don’t know what is.

          • scott stone

            Driving people to suicide. Interesting position. Since we already label those who may have a different opinion regarding SSM as bigots, haters. homophobes, transphobes, et al, we might as well start calling them murders.
            I’m just following the logical progression we’ve seen in society.
            My original response to this article, and many like it, has more to do with the vernacular. It’s hard to change your mind when you are constantly being called a hater (which was the first thing the author did. Labeled those with a different position as being “hate-filled.”)
            I know my position on SSM changed not from being called names but from conversations with a close friend who explained to me how she couldn’t help who she loved. I felt ashamed that my original position hurt her and made her feel less.
            The left has no room for diversity of thought. You step out of line and you get whacked. Bill Maher jokingly referred to it as the gay mafia.

          • xnlover

            It was you and not I who used the word “haters.” I merely pointed out that the rejection of LGBTQ persons by the church has different and more serious implications for those who are rejected than does the rejection of the conservative theological stance. In terms of the latter, it involves a deeply held theological position that, as your own experience shows, can change over time when new information and a sense of compassion enter into the equation. In terms of the former, however, it is a matter of human lives that are damaged and sometimes lost on account of the treatment the church gives such persons. It disturbs me that you interpreted my criticism of your statement as an attack on you and even more than you can’t see the difference between the effects of the church’s position on those who currently have the political power in many American churches and those who are abused by that position. I believe your inability to differentiate between the two is endemic to conservative Christians in general, and not just in the UMC. I have long held the position that conservatives want gay people to change certain behaviors, because they believe those behaviors to be sinful and “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Yet, no one can change without the Spirit of Christ aiding them in making that change. And instead of placing into the Book of Discipline and in the preaching in the churches messages that will draw gay folks to the church and to the Lord, conservatives think that the stick will be more effective than the carrot. So, conservatives are actually working against their own purposes, driving gay folks away from the church and away from the Lord the conservatives serve, and thus, driving them straight to the hell they claim those who act in such ways as they do are bound. How in the world does that make any sense?

          • scott stone

            Actually the blog author used the words “hate-filled” to describe people with a different point of view. My comments are in defense of people that happen to just hold an alternative position and for that are constantly attacked, viciously I might add, by progressives and the mainstream media.
            Your response here is quite fascinating because I agree with so much of it. Your point about conservatives driving people from the church when it is the church that they believe gay people need is spot on. The irony is the left is doing the same thing to conservatives. By constantly accusing them of being haters and bigots and homophobes, a greater division is being created.

          • xnlover

            Abortion opponents call those who perform abortions “murderers.” Are they creating “a greater division”? If they are, is it right that they make that accusation? Lives are being taken, though obviously it is not the children who are aborted who are taking their own lives. By contrast, gay folks, especially youth and young adults are committing suicide in response to the church’s rejection of them and the abuse of a society in which harming of LGBTQ persons is made more acceptable by the condemnation of “good Christians”. Should opponents of gay suicide not similarly use strong terminology to condemn the words and actions of those whose behavior is directly contributing to this tragedy? You seem curiously defensive regarding the behavior of some Christians that is clearly akin to that of abortion providers. While Christian opponents of homosexuality don’t wield the knife, gun, pills, or whatever that take the lives of gay folks – though some people do actually kill people on account of their being gay, if not claiming to do so out of devotion to Christ – the results of human deaths are no less real than in the case of abortions performed; and the lives that are taken have been independent of a mother’s womb for years rather than dependent upon a willing host. This is the problem I noted earlier: Christians defending behavior that leads to the death of some, while the condemnation of those words and actions that allegedly “drives conservatives from the church” on account of their theological position that contributes directly, in many cases, to gay suicides seems never to lead to similarly tragic loss of human life. So, which condemnation has more justification – that which alienates people from the church but doesn’t contribute to suicides of some, or that which clearly contributes to the deaths of too many?

          • http://www.1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/ Eternity Matters

            What foolishness. Those kids aren’t taking their lives because of what Jesus said about marriage and sexuality. Mark 10:6-9 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

            They have screwed up lives and are getting more screwed up as they wallow in the “gay” lifestyle. Go check out the stats in countries that are most favorable to LGBTQX people. Remember this for any “comprehensive” sex-ed class: The “gay” lifestyle is demonstrably worse than that of straights.

            “But here’s the problem with the bullying hypothesis. In countries like the Netherlands and Sweden where same-sex “marriage” has been the law of the land for years, gay men remain three times more susceptible to mood disorders and three- to ten-times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.”

            http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/john-stonestreet/unspoken-epidemic-silent-suffering-gay-men

          • xnlover

            Sorry, pal. It’s lovelessness such as that expressed in your post that kills people and that causes persons such as you to deny any responsibility to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Get right with God before you point the finger at others, claiming to know what THEIR problem is.

          • http://www.1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/ Eternity Matters

            You have no idea what real love is. The “Christian” Left is pro-abortion to the child’s 1st breath — and they call that love! http://wp.me/p5O8SK-GH That literally kills people.

            Try loving all your neighbors for a change.

            And if you really love your neighbors you’d never affirm them in their delusions and perversions, like the “Christian” Left does with LGBTQX people.

            Churchgoers who support “same-sex marriage” — i.e., the “Christian” Left — have nearly identical views to the world on a host of issues such as abortion, adultery, porn, etc.. It shows who their real father is. http://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/churchgoers-who-support-same-sex-marriage-are-identical-to-the-world/

            1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

            Jude 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

            James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

            Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

          • xnlover

            Your rant does not testify to a “renewed mind.” Better get to your prayer closet and talk the state of your soul over with the Lord.

          • http://www.1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/ Eternity Matters

            Better repent of being a lover of the world.

            Also, you are blocked.

            Churchgoers who support “same-sex marriage” — i.e., the “Christian” Left — have nearly identical views to the world on a host of issues such as abortion, adultery, porn, etc.. It shows who their real father is. http://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/churchgoers-who-support-same-sex-marriage-are-identical-to-the-world/

            1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

            Jude 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

            James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

            Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

          • xnlover

            You claim that I am a “lover of the world,” and that is false. The Pharisees claimed that Jesus was the son of the devil, because he didn’t toe their god-in-our-box line, and that was as false as your accusation of me. If there’s anyone who is a lover of this world, it’s someone who would rather win an argument than to win a soul to Christ. I hope you come to know the love of Christ for you and for our LGBTQX sisters and brothers, so you can show them the love that too many people have failed to show them with any faithfulness.

          • Mark1115

            Your slanders are sin.

          • http://www.1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/ Eternity Matters

            Also, you are a hypocrite. Why don’t you follow your own advice and stop point fingers? So tone-deaf!

          • xnlover

            Just the kind of defensive response I expected from someone who doesn’t know Christ, as is you vain attempt below to justify yourself rather than allowing Christ to justify you.

          • http://www.1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/ Eternity Matters

            LOL. Another fact-free, logic-free response. Blocking you for being a time waster.

            And more hypocrisy, as you justify yourself while accusing me of doing it! What a fraud.

            You believe the opposite of the Bible. http://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/opposites-3/

          • Mark1115

            Your slanders are sin – remember, Paul said that slanderers, and you are one, do not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

          • Mark1115

            ” Those kids aren’t taking their lives because of what Jesus said about marriage and sexuality.”

            Nice fraud. You cannot even be honest about xnlover’s position, how can you be honest about the Bible.

            The point is that GLBTQ kids, and adults, are taking their own lives because of the sick interpretation of the Bible, the belief ‘homosexuality is sin’.

            Jesus did not condemn or forbid same-sex marriage. The passage you are citing is a response to a question about heterosexual divorce, you are committing fraud.

            “They have screwed up lives and are getting more screwed up as they wallow in the “gay” lifestyle.”

            No. There is no gay lifestyle, and the kids you lie about here – many of them never get to have a same-sex relationship. Folks like you drive them to suicide long before that.

            Just because same-sex marriage was made legal somewhere a few years ago – doesn’t mean that homophobia and the destruction it causes has gone away.

            After all – here you are, posting your poison about GLBTQ people, and your words wound vulnerable GLBTQ youth.

          • Mark1115

            And the author is correct, your posts have demonstrated that.

          • Mark1115

            “The left has no room for diversity of thought.”

            Nice lie, and quite the sinful distortion. You are allowed to think anything you want, no matter how sinful.

            Meanwhile, the right, your side, actively persecutes, penalizes and punishes the very acts of GLBTQ people, and women who have an unwanted pregnancy, and the poor.

            ” It’s hard to change your mind when you are constantly being called a hater”

            Only because of pride. If you cannot stand to have your sin pointed out to you – you won’t make it as a Christian.

            “I know my position on SSM changed not from being called names”

            You don’t support same-sex marriage, don’t try to fool people.

  • Paperboy_73

    ““The day we change our beliefs and principles because they all of a sudden pertain to people we love, we are doomed. How can they call it “harm” if God said it? Does God cause harm?”-Andreas Kjernald (Pastor at Mysen Metodiskirke, Norway)”

    They’re so close to figuring it out. So close!

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

      The way God has been portrayed for much of Christian history does indeed cause harm.

  • Mark1115

    ““These stories, though moving, do not change the situation. These
    complex issues are not determined by the measure of impact they may have
    on others.”-Alan Miller (Sr Pastor, Mt Pleasant United Methodist
    Church)”

    This pastor has essentially rejected Christ’s teaching in Matthew 7:15-23. Jesus is quite clear, the consequences of a teaching absolutely reveal whether it is of God or not.

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

      It did interest me that he could so cavalierly toss out the impact of his words on vulnerable children. I really don’t get it.

  • nordenstadt

    My wish is that the remnant would join with like-minded Episcopalians, like-minded Lutherans, like-minded Presbyterians to form a new denomination.

    I was a Southern Baptist before the putsch by Texan reactionaries in the 1980s and the subsequent expulsion of moderates from all boards and seminaries. I became a United Methodist and found the life-changing power of universalism in a men’s group there. I came to understand the destructive nature of Calvinism and how that belief that God chose some and rejected others colors all our other actions. I am a universalist now because I believe that philosophy of endless love awakens my compassion and mercy far better than a belief that enables me to feel superior to the “rejects”.

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

      I, too, wish we could join with the progressive Episcopalians, Lutherans adn Presbyterians. You and I have similar histories and bad shared memories of the Fundamentalist takeover of the SBC. That history is repeating itself now in the UMC. As for Calvinism . . . that kind of theology makes me ill.

    • Linda Coleman Allen

      I have just learned a little about Universalism and would like to learn more. It seems to be more Jesus oriented and compassionate.

      • nordenstadt

        “If God is Love” and “If Grace is True” are two books on the subject.

    • ECA

      I recommend checking out the Metropolitan Community Church denomination.

  • robertroy

    I had the same problem with churches. Over the years going from Gospel, Baptist, Anglican, RC, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Salvation Army. It wasn’t until I came to the Later Day Saints (Mormons) that I found more answers than questions and that’s where I’ve been for the last 27 years..

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

      I am a woman. Even if I found Mormon theology coherent (which I don’t and I have read fairly extensively about it) I would never, ever again be a part of a church where second class status for females is so overtly taught and practiced. But I am glad it works for you.

      • xnlover

        I would note the the Latter Day Saints are at least as anti-LGBTQI as are many in the UMC, if not more so, with doctrine to support that stance.

        • Jonah Barnes

          This is totally false. You’re lucky my gay LDS Youth Instructor doesn’t read this blog … http://www.standard.net/News/2016/06/17/One-year-later-Utah-LGBT-anti-discrimination-law-continues-to-resonate

          • xnlover

            Just as with the UMC, the LDS “accepts” persons with same-sex attraction but condemns their “practice” –
            which is like the Amish saying, “we have no objection to our people owning an automobile, unless they want to drive it. That’s a sin that we cannot accept.”
            Ask your “gay LDS Youth Instructor” if he’s married to a same-sex partner and if they have sexual relations with one another. I’ll bet he’s not, and, unless he’s lying in denying it, he’s also not sexually active with another man.
            https://www.lds.org/topics/same-sex-attraction?lang=eng Being anti-LGBTQ means you are against people of all sexual orientations that are not heterosexual living out that orientation fully, including developing loving, mutually fulfilling and faithful relationships that include sexual sharing with the person with whom they feel called by God to live as a life partner. Don’t lie by making it seem the LDS is not anti-LGBTQ, because they are, and they always will be. (If they’re not anti-gay, why have they moved away from sponsoring Boy Scout troops, since the Boy Scouts of America have approved including both gay boys and gay troop leaders? It’s because they are anti-gay, and for no other reason, no matter how they try to justify it through “alternative facts.”)

          • Jonah Barnes

            Gays are not withheld from ANYTHING in the Mormon church. Let me say that again in case you weren’t thinking of responding instead of listening to me: gays are not withheld from ANYTHING in the LDS Church. You could be gay and be clergy, a missionary, a Temple-worker or the President of the Church. Being gay excludes you from nothing. Don’t listen to Huffington Post, or MSNBC — the LDS Church holds NOTHING back from gays. My temple-worthy, returned missionary, priesthood holding, youth leader (whom I adore) is proof of that. Would your church allow a gay man to be it’s president?

          • xnlover

            I don’t think you read what I wrote. I do not deny that “gays are not withheld from ANYTHING in the Mormon church” – institutionally. But tell me this: can gays marry people of the same sex as themselves? Is your “gay LDS Youth Instructor” married to a person of the same sex? If you are gay, will the Mormon church marry you to your chosen same-sex partner? If the answer to all these questions is “no” – which I believe it must be – then my claim still stands: the LDS church, like the UMC, is anti-gay, because they won’t allow gay people to love and to marry those whom God has fitted them to love and marry.

          • xnlover

            From the article on the “Utah Collaboration”: “Williams understands that, for the foreseeable future, the LDS Church won’t perform or condone same-sex marriage. And he doesn’t expect it to.” Thus, they are still anti-gay. They just don’t deny gays their civil rights, which many do, but no one should. Civil rights are not subject to religious justification; they are human rights, plain and simple. Everyone should be accorded them. And again, what about the LDS withdrawing support from Boy Scouts of America? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/05/11/the-mormon-church-sticks-with-the-boy-scouts-but-will-leave-scouts-teen-programs/?utm_term=.b1f80745ea49

          • Jonah Barnes

            Oh boy. So a church that could potentially allow a gay man to be its president is anti-gay … ?? And if women can’t be bishops, they are also sexist. Hang on, let me write this all down. Is Webster’s dictionary reading this? Because you should let them know you’ve redefined what it is to be sexist and to be anti-gay for them. You might save them some time. What else are we, xnlover? Can you tell me everything I think and feel? Everything I know and don’t know? What else do I hate? How else am I morally inferior to you? So far your tactic has been to decree sweeping redefinitions of whatever semantic you like.

          • xnlover

            Are you gay? If so, can you marry a person of the same sex whom you love in the Mormon Church? If you can, great! I will change my opinion about the Mormon Church being anti-gay. If you can’t, or even if you are not gay, but your wonderful “gay LDS Youth Instructor” could not be married to a person of the same sex in the Mormon Church if he chose to be, then I will persist in claiming – as I do with my own UMC – that the Mormon Church is anti-gay. You see, it’s not about whether they don’t burn people at the stake if they are gay, or even about whether they can elect them as president of the Church; it’s about whether they support their living fully, in all aspects, the life that God created them to live; and that includes having a mutually loving relationship with a life-partner whom they choose that is fully affirmed and celebrated by the Church, including the celebration of their having sexual relations with that partner with the same freedom as do couples who consist of a man and a woman. Any definition of “affirmation of gays or LGBTQ persons” that falls short of that is simply “anti-gay,” no matter how strongly you try to justify the inadequately limited LDS definition.

          • xnlover

            The UMC doesn’t have a “president.” We are not a patriarchal denomination. We have male and female bishops – whereas the LDS deny the bishopric to women. So, they are sexist in addition to being anti-gay.

      • Jonah Barnes

        Phew. You’ve got some strange ideas about Mormon women. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EZYlEpBbIk

        • xnlover

          That’s just like the Catholic Church saying, “Women aren’t second class; they just have a different calling” (because they lack a penis. The LDS is no less patriarchal and anti-female-equality than is the Roman Catholic Church, many Southern Baptist Churches, many conservative Anglicans and Presbyterians and Methodists and people of other denominations. They’re all into male dominance over females, so that females have no authority to state “this is what God has called me to do” if it is against what the men who dominate these organizations say is “God’s word.”

          • Jonah Barnes

            did …. did you even watch the video??? You should watch before you respond …

          • xnlover

            She clearly doesn’t know much about the history of nuns in the Roman Catholic Church, since nuns have done all that she describes LDS women doing for centuries before Joseph Smith had his “revelations.” And still, women cannot occupy the priesthood, which women in the UMC, the Presbyterian Church in the USA, the Episcopal Church in the US, and many other churches can. So, with all the wonderful things she describes, she still ignores the fact that other “revelations” given by the Lord to whom she refers have authorized women to be priests. It’s the men in the LDS church who deny women the priesthood, not “the Lord.”

    • ECA

      Interesting. I have yet to find a Mormon church member who can answer my questions, satisfactorily.

  • ECA

    Try not to take that one from the west Florida UMC too seriously. I loved the one in the panhandle, but a few months ago, one of the pastors was arrested for engaging in sex with a minor. Both parties were male. Comparisons to murder being the Goldman’s Hitler Law of the church.

  • Mike Thomas

    Instead of blowing the church up, lets’ try blowing the carbon out. The same way you gun an engine to blow out the carbon and clean out the gunk, it’s time to rev up the church and blow out all the hate, prejudice and intolerance. The church leaders need to embrace the future, gun the engines and move forward. Anyone who wants to bail out and stay behind can do so. I will pray that they will eventually find it in their hearts to catch up with everyone else.

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

      I think your idea is much better than mine. How do we do this? Seriously–what would it take?

      • George Waite

        Church is boring,

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

    I’m sorry you found my comment hateful. For me it was a simple reflection on the matter of truth and the importance of holding beliefs because they are true, not convenient. I would like to think that if I met this person we could get along and communicate about Scripture like adults.

    • Mark1115

      Your insinuation that progressives reject anti-gay theology because it is ‘convenient’ is sin. It indicates that you wouldn’t be able to communicate about Scripture like an adult.

      Progressives reject anti-gay theology because it is inherently destructive, it produces evil fruit, and only evil fruit. Jesus said ‘evil fruit, evil tree’.

  • Lauren

    Please know that not every United Methodist pastor believes this way. Some of us believe that all expressions of sexuality are a gift from God, and reflect the beauty of God’s diverse creation.

  • tyler

    i admit, having been raised in an extra-liberal UMC congregation, i tend to give them more credit than they really deserve, so events like this disappoint me more than a little bit. but they also make me hecka mad that there are people that think homelessness, assault, suicide, and more ills that plague lgbtq+ communities as a result of their church’s policies can’t even be called harm. “does god cause harm,” indeed.

  • John

    Your analysis of the structural issues of the UMC are spot on, but the lead in about sexuality is not. This just goes to reveal that unless the UMC, and every other church for that matter, accepts and affirms and fully endorses all the gender and sexual possibilities we see in society today, then you cannot be a church of grace. You reveal it as all or nothing. Honestly, I’m glad you admit it. I wish others would. Affirming churches must admit that unless all other churches do the same as them, then by default and without exception they are churches devoid of love and grace, but are instead churches of hate and judgment. After all, you can’t have both, can you?

    • Mark1115

      “You reveal it as all or nothing.”

      Actually, you made it an all or nothing situation.

      Now grace – that’s an interesting subject. Jesus said that how you judge others is the standard you will be judged by. If your grace, that you judge others by, is conditional, then that is the grace you will be judged by.

  • Jessica Speck

    My very liberal sister and her very liberal husband are members of a very liberal UMC congregation. I am a member of an even more liberal Evangelical Lutheran church and I have a trans son. Looking from my vantage point, I am very startled at the vitriol some UMC pastors carry for the LGBT community. In my church, it seems to be a settled matter. But continuing problems in UMC and even Episcopal churches (where I was baptized and confirmed) astound me. It is not a matter of “convenience” to love and accept these folks. Jesus fulfilled the law and the profits. The Levitical standards of purity should no longer apply at all. We don’t stone people for adultery. We don’t sell our daughters into slavery. We happily wear clothing of mixed fibers. And we shave our beards every day (if we happen to have beards). Neither the ancient Jews nor the Jews of today divide Leviticus into three sections. Either you follow all of the laws or NONE of them apply. Jesus told us the MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENTS were to Love God and to Love your neighbor as yourself. How can you simultaneously love someone if you are also condemning them for a “sin” Jesus never said was a sin? For shame, pastors! I have never attended seminary, but I’m thinking maybe I should just so I can fight this evil from the inside.

  • Brianna Clark

    Maybe all of the Christians who are so judgmental towards transgender people should google “gender bending chemicals”. This isn’t a moral issue, it’s an environmental one. I remember reading years ago about frogs that were being found with male and female parts. Well, now it’s spreading to people. Children today have male and female hormones, altered brains, etc. Christians are the ones who let this happen. They were so focused on The Rapture and Armageddon they didn’t care what happened to this planet, because they figured they weren’t going to be here long anyway. They are still constantly looking for signs of the end of the world because they want OUT of the world that they created. Well, that’s not going to happen. We’re stuck with this mess now, all of us.

  • sstnt

    Thanks for your immediate marginalization of “white, affluent men” who “vociferously disagreed”, Christy. I am one…white and man , because that is what God made me. Affluent…because of where God placed me and because of the work of my hands and the sweat of my brow. “Vociferously disagreed” because of people like you who, regardless of any arguments in the Bible or otherwise “feel” the need to “Vociferously agree” with the LGBT agenda and force it down the throats of any and all people who disagree…to yank their Church away from them without real regard for their own belief. So I thank you for your placing that at the very front of your “opinion”, Christy. Because it allowed me to use the few moments I would have used in reading the rest of your diatribe to instead write my “vociferously disagreeing” response. Thank God…you are no longer a Pastor of the UMC. Time to change your blog title.

    • Mark1115

      Your dishonest characterization of the matter at hand, the attempt to make yourself the victim, demonstrates that you are one of those people who endanger the lives of millions of people by preaching the lie ‘homosexuality is sin’ in order to feed your pride.

      “”Vociferously disagreed” because of people like you who, regardless of
      any arguments in the Bible or otherwise “feel” the need to “Vociferously
      agree” with the LGBT agenda”

      So you are a homophobe, and brutally vicious and malicious. There are no accurate arguments from the Bible to condone your behavior here, or to support the demonic belief ‘homosexuality is sin’. The LGBT agenda, as much as it exists, is simply to be treated as equals to heterosexuals, nothing more, in all things. Yet this offends you.

      Of course decent, God-loving people vociferously disagree with the sick belief you endorse – homosexuality is sin. People are murdered because of that sick belief, and raped, and tortured. Right now, in these very days and week, gay men are being put into concentration camps in Chechnya – though society said ‘never again’ after WW II – imprisoned, tortured and executed as the deliberate manifestation of ‘homosexuality is sin’.

      Yet all you can think about is your pride.

      Time for you to stop calling yourself a follower of Christ.