Methodist pastor to be stripped of position for officiating gay weddings.

The Methodist Church has said it will strip Pastor Frank Schaefer of his credentials if he officiates over same-sex weddings:

A United Methodist jury Tuesday night gave a Pennsylvania pastor 30 days to agree not to break church law by presiding at future same-sex weddings or give up his clergy credentials.

The penalty was announced just before 9 p.m., in Spring City, Pa., after an emotional two-day church trial. On Monday, the Rev. Frank Schaefer was found guilty of violating church law by officiating at his son’s 2007 wedding to another man.

What a great story this would be if this father resisted the influence of his church and chose allegiance to his son and to his own heart over allegiance to discriminatory tradition.  How sad it is that people like Frank Schaefer are being told that god demands he betray love, the noblest of all human qualities, or be rejected.  For those of us emancipated from religion, the answer seems simple: “To hell with you!  I’ll throw in my lot with humankind.  We all obey rules, and your rules no longer agree with my own.  My rules say to empower love, and to never fight what does no harm.”

But from within the twisting confines of a religion the simple answer can be hard to see, and it requires much more bravery to utter thanks to the fear injected by faith (especially in Christianity).

But Shcaefer managed it:

Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Pa., said during the trial that he would not repent and that his actions were guided by love, not rebellion against church law.

During testimony Tuesday, Schaefer put on a rainbow stole and said it was a sign of his support for gay rights.

“I cannot go back to being a silent supporter,” he said. He would not promise not to quit officiating at same-sex weddings.

He got one thing wrong: to be guided by love, and to recognize the sincere, beautiful love that some men and women have for each other, that is an act of rebellion to church law – even to the bible, which calls very clearly for the deaths of homosexuals.  His church and the bible should be defied on this, and it makes me sad to hear him paying lip service to such an edifice of discrimination even as he spurns it.

The choice is between recognizing the worth of love between consenting adults, all of it, or a church that denies it.  The right choice is clear.  Make it.  Make it in full and without pretension.

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