The Inquisition Cometh #UMC

The Inquisition Cometh #UMC April 8, 2014

I just read the heartbreaking report that some 60 (unnamed at this point) conservative pastors and theologians in the United Methodist Church have held a phone conversation about the deepening divisions within this denomination.

From the news report:

The group said that they were forming a smaller working group to bring suggestions to the larger group for responses, including suggestions of withholding funding from the church, advocacy with the Council of Bishops for greater enforcement of the Book of Discipline,  and the possibility of creating a proposal for the division of the United Methodist Church into two denominations. [Boldface mine]

And so, I make this prediction: be prepared for a sordid history of the Inquisition to repeat itself here.

Do not think that the conservative clergy are going to give up the assets or the name of the UMC. Their goal will be to force out the progressive/emergents. These are the clergy and laity who, after engaging in prayer, biblical scholarship and pastoral ministry, have come to the conclusion that the discriminatory policies of the UMC against the LGBTQ community are both unbiblical and morally unjustified.

The language currently in the Book of Discipline, inserted in 1972 and not part of the powerful history of the UMC and its willingness to stand with those on the margins, does support those discriminatory practices.

With the power of that language, conservatives will insist that any who wish to continue as clergy in this connection swear fealty to the Book of Discipline.  (This is what happened in the Frank Schaefer verdict).

My prediction: Without a sworn oath that the BOD will be upheld in its entirety, which no one can possibly do and still be actually engaged in ministry, clergy will lose their ordination status, their appointments, the defined benefit portion of their pensions (substantial for older clergy) and their health insurance. Actually dividing up those assets and properties will be such a logistical, legal and financial nightmare that the victors will simply claim all assets as theirs.

It means this to the progressives/emergents: either lie or leave. Preferably leave, so the “pure” church can go forward.

The conservatives have the power. The fact that using power in such a way is profoundly unbiblical makes no difference.

The inquisition will be necessary in order for conservatives to maintain their doctrinal purity. That’s what the drive to doctrinal purity always does. It splits and splits and splits until only a few are left–but those few are so deeply sure of their holiness that the collateral damage seems also to have been a holy move. I lived in that world a long time. I know what happens.

This is church history.

And I believe that unless there is massive repentance and a renewal of humility throughout our entire connection, we are about to see the death stake driven into our mutual hearts.

And for this, Jesus died.

I am so grieved I am writing through tears streaming down my face. May God have mercy upon us all.

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  • Based on the fact that no real substantial resolution or action has been released, I think your fear is a bit premature. I don’t think we need to demonize people who want a pure and uniform church. Nor do I think it’s helpful to assume uniform motives on the part of enemies. Perhaps it would be helpful just to wait and see if we learn anything from this. Other denominations are going through the same things as we speak. The church for 2000 years has had ebbs and flows of those concerned with purity. Some today are reactionary, yes. But others are thoughtfully and prayerfully considering the way forward that will glorify God. While I want to honor that this brings about fears and tears in you, I don’t think it’s helpful to start painting pictures of worst case scenarios for everyone. Let’s calm down and trust that God’s good will win out for us all. Or at least he’ll judge the folks who get it wrong.

  • Based on the fact that no real substantial resolution or action has been released, I think your fear is a bit premature. I don’t think we need to demonize people who want a pure and uniform church. Nor do I think it’s helpful to assume uniform motives on the part of enemies. Perhaps it would be helpful just to wait and see if we learn anything from this. Other denominations are going through the same things as we speak. The church for 2000 years has had ebbs and flows of those concerned with purity. Some today are reactionary, yes. But others are thoughtfully and prayerfully considering the way forward that will glorify God. While I want to honor that this brings about fears and tears in you, I don’t think it’s helpful to start painting pictures of worst case scenarios for everyone. Let’s calm down and trust that God’s good will win out for us all. Or at least he’ll judge the folks who get it wrong.

  • This is alarmist in the extreme. I also deplore the far right’s desire for schism, but comparing conservatives leaving the church to actual persecuted persons being tortured and burned at the stake is unhelpful rhetoric. And they aren’t talking about “taking over” they are talking about leaving. That’s schism, not inquisition.

  • This is alarmist in the extreme. I also deplore the far right’s desire for schism, but comparing conservatives leaving the church to actual persecuted persons being tortured and burned at the stake is unhelpful rhetoric. And they aren’t talking about “taking over” they are talking about leaving. That’s schism, not inquisition.

  • IT’S about integrity. If a Bishop or Pastor cannot in good conscience follow the discipline regarding our teaching on homosexual acts, ordination of persons who say they are homosexual, or the teaching on marriage, then they should leave. Period.

  • IT’S about integrity. If a Bishop or Pastor cannot in good conscience follow the discipline regarding our teaching on homosexual acts, ordination of persons who say they are homosexual, or the teaching on marriage, then they should leave. Period.

  • I appreciate the comments here. Yes, it is easy to call this alarmist, but I also think that speaking out fears and concerns gives us a place to start. I’ve been reading as much as possible from both sides of the debate. What I’ve seen is a lot of unchristian action on both sides. But the move toward separation seems to be far stronger on the conservative end, not the progressive end. Based on what happened at the last GC, the conservatives do have the votes to force out the progressives. And we need to talk about this, about the implications of the use of that kind of power.

  • I appreciate the comments here. Yes, it is easy to call this alarmist, but I also think that speaking out fears and concerns gives us a place to start. I’ve been reading as much as possible from both sides of the debate. What I’ve seen is a lot of unchristian action on both sides. But the move toward separation seems to be far stronger on the conservative end, not the progressive end. Based on what happened at the last GC, the conservatives do have the votes to force out the progressives. And we need to talk about this, about the implications of the use of that kind of power.

  • Personally, I have difficulty saying that I can be in a covenant with a clergywoman in New England who recently announced her engagement to a transgender person. My understanding is that she will be appointed to a new charge this year. I wish her well, but she does NOT belong in a leadership position in a Christian church. With sadness, I am leaving this overly tolerant, unholy community.

    • Praise God that there are still faithful lights showing hope to others. http://lightfordarktimes.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/38/

      • Thank you for the link to this important article, Michael.

    • I recently had the privilege of becoming acquainted with a transgendered person. As I listened to her story and life-long struggle with her gender identity, my respect for her integrity grew. Her body, male, does not match her internal self, female. I heard her struggle to bring internal and external consistency to her life, and thought about how easy I’ve had it over the years since my body (female) does have a greater match to my mind (female), so I’ve not had to expend the emotional/spiritual energy to bring wholeness to my soul. Her generosity with her story helped me to see more fully the tensions of those who inhabit the GLBTQ communities. This is not a call for sexual immorality, but a cry for actual sexual morality for those who wish to enter into marriage and other covenants as fully honest and vulnerable people. The call of the progressives is not for an “anything goes” sexual morality. Far from that, it is a cry for a deeper morality for all God’s people. But I am very much aware of how complicated it is for those whose gender identities are not conflicted to enter into that world.

    • johnwwelch

      (1) I happen to know both people. They are among the most decent, all-loving, people I have met in or outside the Methodist Church…and I was baptized about 66 years ago, sixth or seventh generation Methodist, joined the Methodist Church when I was twelve, and know a lot of people. In fact, was stunned to discover that one of the chief financial officers in the UMC is “little William”, the grandson of myh choir director from many years ago.

      (2) The anti-homosexual language was slipped into a resolution on human sexuality and passed in the last hours of the 1972 genewral conference. About 1988, the conference appointed a committee to figure out what they had passed. The committee developed a study guide concluding that attraction to the same sex is normal, natural, and thatg about 10% of people are made that way. Unfortunately, general conference has passed harsher, more punishing, and more homophobic language at each meeting.

      (3) I know that my own fear of “homosexuals” came from other teenagers. It was from society and not from theology or any sort of church teaching. My Methodist experience was built around my minister’s sermons and our hymns. many of the sermons were from the Sermon on the Mount, which is not surprising because John Wesley preached so often on that Sermon. My notion of Methodism began when my mother sang me to sleep with “jesus loves me this I know…”; I sang that to my little sister. My free-association with Methodism is loving-kindness.

      (4) Are you actually Holly Boardman? You don’t sound like the Holly Boardman I have read. She sounds better than this bigotted post.

  • Personally, I have difficulty saying that I can be in a covenant with a clergywoman in New England who recently announced her engagement to a transgender person. My understanding is that she will be appointed to a new charge this year. I wish her well, but she does NOT belong in a leadership position in a Christian church. With sadness, I am leaving this overly tolerant, unholy community.

    • Praise God that there are still faithful lights showing hope to others. http://lightfordarktimes.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/38/

      • Thank you for the link to this important article, Michael.

    • I recently had the privilege of becoming acquainted with a transgendered person. As I listened to her story and life-long struggle with her gender identity, my respect for her integrity grew. Her body, male, does not match her internal self, female. I heard her struggle to bring internal and external consistency to her life, and thought about how easy I’ve had it over the years since my body (female) does have a greater match to my mind (female), so I’ve not had to expend the emotional/spiritual energy to bring wholeness to my soul. Her generosity with her story helped me to see more fully the tensions of those who inhabit the GLBTQ communities. This is not a call for sexual immorality, but a cry for actual sexual morality for those who wish to enter into marriage and other covenants as fully honest and vulnerable people. The call of the progressives is not for an “anything goes” sexual morality. Far from that, it is a cry for a deeper morality for all God’s people. But I am very much aware of how complicated it is for those whose gender identities are not conflicted to enter into that world.

    • johnwwelch

      (1) I happen to know both people. They are among the most decent, all-loving, people I have met in or outside the Methodist Church…and I was baptized about 66 years ago, sixth or seventh generation Methodist, joined the Methodist Church when I was twelve, and know a lot of people. In fact, was stunned to discover that one of the chief financial officers in the UMC is “little William”, the grandson of myh choir director from many years ago.

      (2) The anti-homosexual language was slipped into a resolution on human sexuality and passed in the last hours of the 1972 genewral conference. About 1988, the conference appointed a committee to figure out what they had passed. The committee developed a study guide concluding that attraction to the same sex is normal, natural, and thatg about 10% of people are made that way. Unfortunately, general conference has passed harsher, more punishing, and more homophobic language at each meeting.

      (3) I know that my own fear of “homosexuals” came from other teenagers. It was from society and not from theology or any sort of church teaching. My Methodist experience was built around my minister’s sermons and our hymns. many of the sermons were from the Sermon on the Mount, which is not surprising because John Wesley preached so often on that Sermon. My notion of Methodism began when my mother sang me to sleep with “jesus loves me this I know…”; I sang that to my little sister. My free-association with Methodism is loving-kindness.

      (4) Are you actually Holly Boardman? You don’t sound like the Holly Boardman I have read. She sounds better than this bigotted post.

  • Sad to see how far many American Methodists have strayed. Praise God for the faithful ones in Africa who still believe His word. The only Inquisitions that we see are coming from the left. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/love-basics-heresies-divorce-homosexuality-church/

    • We are dealing with major issues of biblical interpretation here. One question that I think we need to ask is this: should we permit divorced people and/or women to serve as clergy? I am not sure how the clergy in Africa have answered those questions, but it seems we have very similar issues of interpretation here.

      • Yes!! Our differences are much greater than this one issue. We differ on war, money, and judicial punishment. We either interpret scripture, or we read it literally. This is the same theological divide the church acted upon in 1846, and perhaps we were too quick to try and put it back together in the 1930s when we couldn’t agree on what we believed. And I am a liberal who thinks that too much damage is being done to the church through the trials and the “defrockings.” Perhaps we need to all look into our own theologies and agree that God appears to be calling each side to very different ministries.

  • Sad to see how far many American Methodists have strayed. Praise God for the faithful ones in Africa who still believe His word. The only Inquisitions that we see are coming from the left. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/love-basics-heresies-divorce-homosexuality-church/

    • We are dealing with major issues of biblical interpretation here. One question that I think we need to ask is this: should we permit divorced people and/or women to serve as clergy? I am not sure how the clergy in Africa have answered those questions, but it seems we have very similar issues of interpretation here.

      • Yes!! Our differences are much greater than this one issue. We differ on war, money, and judicial punishment. We either interpret scripture, or we read it literally. This is the same theological divide the church acted upon in 1846, and perhaps we were too quick to try and put it back together in the 1930s when we couldn’t agree on what we believed. And I am a liberal who thinks that too much damage is being done to the church through the trials and the “defrockings.” Perhaps we need to all look into our own theologies and agree that God appears to be calling each side to very different ministries.

  • Jeff

    I think your fears are correct, Christy. The conservatives have created the rules against gays and those who would minister to them for 42 years, bit by bit. First it was a ruling that no UMC funds could be used to promote homosexuality. That effectively eliminated literature from our publishing house that presented homosexuality as a normal part of human sexuality which is not seen as unbiblical by a majority of scholars. When I was looking for positive treatments of homosexuality on Cokesbury I had to use a Presbyterian book. Next they banned self avowed practicing homosexuals from ministry. Next they banned clergy or churches from conducting same sex weddings. Finally the latter two actions were made chargeable offenses. Since then, attempts at loyalty oaths have been tried but failed to gain the necessary votes. That will not be the case now with millions of Africans on board. The conservatives will also be trying for mandatory minimum sentences for clergy performing same sex weddings. They will also relax the definition of self avowed practicing homosexuals so that anyone who is in a publicly acknowledged relationship is automatically a self avowed practicing homosexual. Currently there must be an admission of sexual contact.

    The only thing that prevented these regulations from being enacted in 2012 was the protest that refused to leave the floor until the bishops promised to table sexuality legislation. The conservatives will try to convince the bishops to not allow such a protest in 2016. When they have their way the UMC might as well become the Southern Baptist Convention.

    We who support biblical equality of all people must stand against these tactics by any nonviolent means necessary.

    • Thank you for that history of the movement toward a less inclusive conservative viewpoint in the UMC. When I read things like that, I start wondering who left whom here? Yes, I too see shades of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. What a huge tragedy that has been for the cause of the Gospel. And there were heresy tests there just as I envision them coming to the UMC.

  • Jeff

    I think your fears are correct, Christy. The conservatives have created the rules against gays and those who would minister to them for 42 years, bit by bit. First it was a ruling that no UMC funds could be used to promote homosexuality. That effectively eliminated literature from our publishing house that presented homosexuality as a normal part of human sexuality which is not seen as unbiblical by a majority of scholars. When I was looking for positive treatments of homosexuality on Cokesbury I had to use a Presbyterian book. Next they banned self avowed practicing homosexuals from ministry. Next they banned clergy or churches from conducting same sex weddings. Finally the latter two actions were made chargeable offenses. Since then, attempts at loyalty oaths have been tried but failed to gain the necessary votes. That will not be the case now with millions of Africans on board. The conservatives will also be trying for mandatory minimum sentences for clergy performing same sex weddings. They will also relax the definition of self avowed practicing homosexuals so that anyone who is in a publicly acknowledged relationship is automatically a self avowed practicing homosexual. Currently there must be an admission of sexual contact.

    The only thing that prevented these regulations from being enacted in 2012 was the protest that refused to leave the floor until the bishops promised to table sexuality legislation. The conservatives will try to convince the bishops to not allow such a protest in 2016. When they have their way the UMC might as well become the Southern Baptist Convention.

    We who support biblical equality of all people must stand against these tactics by any nonviolent means necessary.

    • Thank you for that history of the movement toward a less inclusive conservative viewpoint in the UMC. When I read things like that, I start wondering who left whom here? Yes, I too see shades of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. What a huge tragedy that has been for the cause of the Gospel. And there were heresy tests there just as I envision them coming to the UMC.

  • Can some one explain what a “pure” church is? It that like a “pure” race. If a member of the “pure church” has a gay child…should they leave? Having family and church members who are same gender loving, I find this issue hard to understand at times. These saints dedicate their lives to improving the conditions of their communities through the UMC yet some do so without their sexual identity being known. It grieves me that we treat God’s people in this manner….discrimination is not one of the means of grace. Have you ever wondered why “are you a racist, bigot, sexist or homophobe is not one of the ordination or lay service questions?

    • I too struggle with the idea of the “pure” church. I was around when the fundamentalists decided to “purity” the Southern Baptist Church and knew of the great, great harm they brought. The more “pure” we need to make the church, the more people who must be kicked out. It’s an impossible quest.

  • Can some one explain what a “pure” church is? It that like a “pure” race. If a member of the “pure church” has a gay child…should they leave? Having family and church members who are same gender loving, I find this issue hard to understand at times. These saints dedicate their lives to improving the conditions of their communities through the UMC yet some do so without their sexual identity being known. It grieves me that we treat God’s people in this manner….discrimination is not one of the means of grace. Have you ever wondered why “are you a racist, bigot, sexist or homophobe is not one of the ordination or lay service questions?

    • I too struggle with the idea of the “pure” church. I was around when the fundamentalists decided to “purity” the Southern Baptist Church and knew of the great, great harm they brought. The more “pure” we need to make the church, the more people who must be kicked out. It’s an impossible quest.

  • Jerry Putnam

    Christy,

    I agree with only one statement in your blog…

    “And I believe that unless there is massive repentance and a renewal of humility throughout our entire connection, we are about to see the death stake driven into our mutual hearts.”

    The remaining thoughts were very disappointing. Your view of those of us who sincerely believe that Scripture, reason, experience, and tradition speak clearly to this issue, is filled with a hateful edge. The easiest way to deal with those you don’t agree with is to characterize them as evil and then to project the evil deeds that those evil people will do.

    I don’t agree with you, but I don’t think you are evil. I don’t think you wish to harm me. I don’t believe you intend to harm others just because they disagree with you and stand on principle. I believe you and other colleagues with whom I have spent a large portion of my life are loving and caring people. I am hurting for the Church that 7 generations of Methodist pastors in my ancestry have served faithfully. I am tied to convictions that are legitimate and consistent with my understanding of holiness. To see pastors and Bishops defy and disobey the Covenant is a painful and deeply distressing experience.

    I know many of the pastors who have agonized over this time of anarchy and have had to stand and say, “enough”! This has been a 40 year struggle and now we face a divided Church. Can you live in a Church that doesn’t allow gay marriage or gay ordination? I suspect you could not. I cannot faithfully live out my call in a Church that allows and supports those things. I would hope that as a person of conviction you would understand that position even if you don’t agree.

    I say all this simply to appeal to you that you not reduce this seminal issue and time of discernment to caricatures and name calling.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Jerry

    • be honest

      But you do think the left is evil if you insist on trials, initiate schism, and feel such grief that persons with an alternative view might dare to share the same church with you. you can not simultaneously portray yourself as tolerant even as you say, “i cannot faithfully live out my call in a Church that allows and supports those things.” make no mistakes about it, the desire to purge people from the church and the desire to split the church are coming entirely from the right and their unwillingness to allow the mere existence of alternative views to share the same church unconstrained by the right’s control. the left is trying to live the truth as they see it, and the right is trying to make the left live by the truth as the right sees it.

      • Jerry

        I said nothing about purging the Church. I spoke only to marriage and ordination. I have never and will never exclude anyone from the grace of God. Salvation is for all. I am a sinner saved by grace and I repent daily of sin in my life. There are clear Scriptural directives on this issue. There is a clear stand by the Covenant on this issue. There is also anarchy because some have chosen to act outside the Covenant.

        I don’t get a sense that Orthodox pastors want to leave the Church. They want the discipline to mean something. The continued practice of these acts of disobedience has placed the progressives who can’t live under the Covenant outside the boundaries set by the UMC.

        What I hear is that THEY can’t live in the Church as it is. They are making a choice to leave the established Covenant.. If those UNLAWFUL acts ceased I believe we could live together.

        It hasn’t been Orthodox pastors who have raised a public spectacle, that would be the Progressives. It is not the Orthodox pastors who have been “whining” again, that would be the Progressives. Antinomianism is not the answer. Again thee tactic that is being used is that those who are lawless have no intention of abiding in the Church as it is and has been for 2000 years.

        Cultural change does not change the biblical stance of the Church. The church speaks Godly change to culture or it is not salt and light. Romans 12:2

        Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

        • Be honest

          This is a difficult but respectful dialogue.

          Anarchy? The right, aided by central conferences, passes general conference legislation that calls for trials. And so there are trials for those who believe differently. All but one of those trials has ended with a punishment. The system is working as the right designed it. I’m hard pressed to understand why it’s the trials that causes the need for schism, when it’s exactly the process the right insists upon. If they are upsetting, stop doing them.

          No, it’s not the trials that are upsetting. What the right can not abide is the there might be people in the church who have a different view on the issue and those people will not fall into line. The left is willing to be in a church with a variety of viewpoints on this issue, and is only asking to be allowed to think as they do without persecution. It’s the right’s unwillingness to allow a variety of viewpoints that motivates the calls for defrockings, schism, and driving people out. I’m not calling anyone evil here. I’m just stating what is plainly evident in the positions. The right does not want gay friendly people in the same church. “Orthodox” (sic) pastors don’t want to leave the church. They want to drive out those with whom they disagree through trials and schism. Can you point to a liberal elder in the church who thinks there should be trials for those with whom they disagree?

          Won’t “abide by the church as it is and has been for 2000 years”? Everything about the church is different than it was 2000 years ago. Can you think of a prohibition placed upon the right that’s comparable to that placed upon the left? What pastoral response would you wish to undertake in your setting that you dare on not because it might put your credentials at risk? The rules are written to punish only one side.

      • Jerry

        Your statement that Progressives are tolerant and Orthodox pastors are not defies reason. The intolerance is from the left. They are the ones acting outside the Covenant. To act as though Christians who stand where the Church has stood for 200 years are somehow intolerant because they choose to obey the Scripture and the Discipline is quite a stretch.

        • Jerry

          My desire is that we act like the Church we have said we are. I don’t want to be a Southern Baptist. I want to be a United Methodist as described by our Discipline. Trials are a consequence of actions that are contrary to the discipline. If one chooses to disobey… the consequences are clearly outlined in the Discipline.

        • Joel MacMillan

          Sorry. No sale. We have evolved on this issue, just as we have evolved on issues of race, gender, and the earth’s place in the solar system, all of which were traditional for centuries. You wouldn’t call the opponents of someone trying to uphold those traditions intolerant.

        • So, Joel, you are making the case for me. You equate the issue of same-sex marriage and homosexual behavior with racism and an earth-centric view of the solar system. That means you intend to force everyone who disagrees with your position on same-sex marriage and homosexuality to conform to your views, regardless of what we think. That is not only intolerance, it is a totalitarian approach. It is evidently not safe for us to be in the same church together because you are laying out a goal of forcing conformity upon me. (Of course, Christy thinks we have the same goal toward her.) So perhaps it would be better to, in Christian love, let each other go our own separate ways.

        • Joel MacMillan

          Tom: I know you are but what am I? I find your intolerance of my intolerance intolerant. Okay, now you go.

          Yes, I expect you to conform to views that are not racist, misogynistic, earth-centric, or homophobic. We know better, and it is not Christ-like. I don’t know how on earth the side that is open and welcoming can be considered intolerant when compared to the side that is exclusive and, frankly, hateful. You can say you’re upholding scripture and tradition and the Discipline all you want but when it comes down to it we are on the side we’re on simply because we want to be.

          I think you’re right about one thing. I don’t see a way to bridge that gap.

  • Jerry Putnam

    Christy,

    I agree with only one statement in your blog…

    “And I believe that unless there is massive repentance and a renewal of humility throughout our entire connection, we are about to see the death stake driven into our mutual hearts.”

    The remaining thoughts were very disappointing. Your view of those of us who sincerely believe that Scripture, reason, experience, and tradition speak clearly to this issue, is filled with a hateful edge. The easiest way to deal with those you don’t agree with is to characterize them as evil and then to project the evil deeds that those evil people will do.

    I don’t agree with you, but I don’t think you are evil. I don’t think you wish to harm me. I don’t believe you intend to harm others just because they disagree with you and stand on principle. I believe you and other colleagues with whom I have spent a large portion of my life are loving and caring people. I am hurting for the Church that 7 generations of Methodist pastors in my ancestry have served faithfully. I am tied to convictions that are legitimate and consistent with my understanding of holiness. To see pastors and Bishops defy and disobey the Covenant is a painful and deeply distressing experience.

    I know many of the pastors who have agonized over this time of anarchy and have had to stand and say, “enough”! This has been a 40 year struggle and now we face a divided Church. Can you live in a Church that doesn’t allow gay marriage or gay ordination? I suspect you could not. I cannot faithfully live out my call in a Church that allows and supports those things. I would hope that as a person of conviction you would understand that position even if you don’t agree.

    I say all this simply to appeal to you that you not reduce this seminal issue and time of discernment to caricatures and name calling.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Jerry

    • be honest

      But you do think the left is evil if you insist on trials, initiate schism, and feel such grief that persons with an alternative view might dare to share the same church with you. you can not simultaneously portray yourself as tolerant even as you say, “i cannot faithfully live out my call in a Church that allows and supports those things.” make no mistakes about it, the desire to purge people from the church and the desire to split the church are coming entirely from the right and their unwillingness to allow the mere existence of alternative views to share the same church unconstrained by the right’s control. the left is trying to live the truth as they see it, and the right is trying to make the left live by the truth as the right sees it.

      • Jerry

        I said nothing about purging the Church. I spoke only to marriage and ordination. I have never and will never exclude anyone from the grace of God. Salvation is for all. I am a sinner saved by grace and I repent daily of sin in my life. There are clear Scriptural directives on this issue. There is a clear stand by the Covenant on this issue. There is also anarchy because some have chosen to act outside the Covenant.

        I don’t get a sense that Orthodox pastors want to leave the Church. They want the discipline to mean something. The continued practice of these acts of disobedience has placed the progressives who can’t live under the Covenant outside the boundaries set by the UMC.

        What I hear is that THEY can’t live in the Church as it is. They are making a choice to leave the established Covenant.. If those UNLAWFUL acts ceased I believe we could live together.

        It hasn’t been Orthodox pastors who have raised a public spectacle, that would be the Progressives. It is not the Orthodox pastors who have been “whining” again, that would be the Progressives. Antinomianism is not the answer. Again thee tactic that is being used is that those who are lawless have no intention of abiding in the Church as it is and has been for 2000 years.

        Cultural change does not change the biblical stance of the Church. The church speaks Godly change to culture or it is not salt and light. Romans 12:2

        Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

        • Be honest

          This is a difficult but respectful dialogue.

          Anarchy? The right, aided by central conferences, passes general conference legislation that calls for trials. And so there are trials for those who believe differently. All but one of those trials has ended with a punishment. The system is working as the right designed it. I’m hard pressed to understand why it’s the trials that causes the need for schism, when it’s exactly the process the right insists upon. If they are upsetting, stop doing them.

          No, it’s not the trials that are upsetting. What the right can not abide is the there might be people in the church who have a different view on the issue and those people will not fall into line. The left is willing to be in a church with a variety of viewpoints on this issue, and is only asking to be allowed to think as they do without persecution. It’s the right’s unwillingness to allow a variety of viewpoints that motivates the calls for defrockings, schism, and driving people out. I’m not calling anyone evil here. I’m just stating what is plainly evident in the positions. The right does not want gay friendly people in the same church. “Orthodox” (sic) pastors don’t want to leave the church. They want to drive out those with whom they disagree through trials and schism. Can you point to a liberal elder in the church who thinks there should be trials for those with whom they disagree?

          Won’t “abide by the church as it is and has been for 2000 years”? Everything about the church is different than it was 2000 years ago. Can you think of a prohibition placed upon the right that’s comparable to that placed upon the left? What pastoral response would you wish to undertake in your setting that you dare on not because it might put your credentials at risk? The rules are written to punish only one side.

      • Jerry

        Your statement that Progressives are tolerant and Orthodox pastors are not defies reason. The intolerance is from the left. They are the ones acting outside the Covenant. To act as though Christians who stand where the Church has stood for 200 years are somehow intolerant because they choose to obey the Scripture and the Discipline is quite a stretch.

        • Jerry

          My desire is that we act like the Church we have said we are. I don’t want to be a Southern Baptist. I want to be a United Methodist as described by our Discipline. Trials are a consequence of actions that are contrary to the discipline. If one chooses to disobey… the consequences are clearly outlined in the Discipline.

        • Joel MacMillan

          Sorry. No sale. We have evolved on this issue, just as we have evolved on issues of race, gender, and the earth’s place in the solar system, all of which were traditional for centuries. You wouldn’t call the opponents of someone trying to uphold those traditions intolerant.

        • So, Joel, you are making the case for me. You equate the issue of same-sex marriage and homosexual behavior with racism and an earth-centric view of the solar system. That means you intend to force everyone who disagrees with your position on same-sex marriage and homosexuality to conform to your views, regardless of what we think. That is not only intolerance, it is a totalitarian approach. It is evidently not safe for us to be in the same church together because you are laying out a goal of forcing conformity upon me. (Of course, Christy thinks we have the same goal toward her.) So perhaps it would be better to, in Christian love, let each other go our own separate ways.

        • Joel MacMillan

          Tom: I know you are but what am I? I find your intolerance of my intolerance intolerant. Okay, now you go.

          Yes, I expect you to conform to views that are not racist, misogynistic, earth-centric, or homophobic. We know better, and it is not Christ-like. I don’t know how on earth the side that is open and welcoming can be considered intolerant when compared to the side that is exclusive and, frankly, hateful. You can say you’re upholding scripture and tradition and the Discipline all you want but when it comes down to it we are on the side we’re on simply because we want to be.

          I think you’re right about one thing. I don’t see a way to bridge that gap.

  • Christy, First let me thank you for, as always, a very “thoughtful” blog. Let me also second my own heartfelt sorrow in hearing about this meeting of sixty clergy, with the goal of discussing separation. I find no joy in the talk of separation. I also find no joy in hearing that conservative colleagues believe they cannot live in a denomination that would allow same sex marriage or other examples of the full inclusion of LGBT persons.

    As others, including myself, have pointed out, many Christian churches are opening their doors. And even more than this, many *Christians,* those who sit in the pews, are having a genuine conversion on these issues.

    It’s sad that conservatives are again floating the idea of separation. I will remind everyone that this was floated back in 2004. And it fell like a lead balloon.

    But I will remind you of two other things:

    1) This proposal in our time, as it did in 2004, comes from the conservative side, not the “progressive” side. Progressives, up to now, and on the main, want us to stay together. But they also believe that we must be a true “big tent” church, and not just a pretend big tent.

    2) Conservatives are proposing this at a time when they are still “winning” all the votes. (“winning” is obviously offensive language…I will us it below, and I apologize for it, but it’s a quick way to make the point)

    I want to say more about this second point…

    There is no possible way to show that the UMC’s policies on LGBT persons have become more “liberal” in the past 40 years. In fact, it’s clear that they’ve become more restrictive. (1996 and the restrictions on same sex weddings. Disgusting, genital-based definitions of “self avowed” and many others examples…)

    During my entire ministry, conservatives have shrieked that the UMC is losing members because it’s too “liberal.” But the clear evidence is that over that past 40 years, we’ve become nothing but more *conservative.*

    And, guess what? We’re still losing members!!

    So, it cannot, de facto be, because we are straying too far to the liberal end of the theological spectrum. I make the argument, in fact, that we are losing members because we are moving in a conservative direction, when the rest of American society is moving in a progressive direction.

    See this blog here: http://wheneftalks.com/2012/11/09/what-the-presidential-election-should-teach-the-united-methodist-church/

    So, everyone should really step back for a moment and ask a very serious question: Why would conservatives be suggesting separation at a time when they are “winning” every single fight at General Conference over 40 years? People who are “winning” a debate don’t normally threaten to *leave.*

    It clearly makes it seems as if there is some other agenda. Perhaps not in the minds and hearts of everyone who is threatening to leave. But at least in the minds and hearts of some. Again, people who are on the “winning” side of a debate don’t normally leave.

    Finally, let me speak to your idea that you fear this means an ultimate end where progressives “leave.” That is most certainly one possible outcome. It would be regrettable, and certainly not something I would favor at this time. But I only point out this one thing: That if we split thusly *once* we will be likely to split *again* between conservative and moderate. This was pointed out to me by some moderate friends about four years ago. Moderates, in the long run, would not be able to sustain a denomination without the progressive wing, and would eventually also separate from the conservatives…or vice versa…however it happens, it would happen. So, if we split once, we split again.

    I reviewed all this in the following blog, for those who are interested in the logic: http://wheneftalks.com/2013/05/13/is-schism-the-best-future-for-the-umc-why-why-not/

    That makes, despite the vitriolic rhetoric of some, the likelihood of split less than it might appear right now. But change is absolutely coming, in some form or fashion. I’m not smart enough to know *how* it will happen. But I know that I still yearn for the truly “big tent” (not “pretend” big tent”) global church where conservatives, moderates and progressives can all find and keep their place.

    I believe God has given us the gifts to be smart enough to figure out how to do this. It’s an open question as to whether we will.

    • Thank you, Eric. I very much agree with this: one split is going to lead to another split. That’s the nature of church splits, unfortunately. I sense optimism in your post–and that is helpful for me to read. I personally have very strong memories of the Fundamentalist take-over of the Southern Baptist Church, and what is happening now in the UMC seems to be paralleling much of that earlier tragedy. I hope I am wrong.

      • Another UMC clergy, who also has a SBC background, wrote me privately to defend your “inquisition” language. He said “that’s what that felt like,” (ie what happened to the SBC) and “that’s what this feels like too.”

        I think awareness is key to avoiding that kind of outcome…and faith that God can perhaps lead us all in new ways we can’t see just yet.

  • Christy, First let me thank you for, as always, a very “thoughtful” blog. Let me also second my own heartfelt sorrow in hearing about this meeting of sixty clergy, with the goal of discussing separation. I find no joy in the talk of separation. I also find no joy in hearing that conservative colleagues believe they cannot live in a denomination that would allow same sex marriage or other examples of the full inclusion of LGBT persons.

    As others, including myself, have pointed out, many Christian churches are opening their doors. And even more than this, many *Christians,* those who sit in the pews, are having a genuine conversion on these issues.

    It’s sad that conservatives are again floating the idea of separation. I will remind everyone that this was floated back in 2004. And it fell like a lead balloon.

    But I will remind you of two other things:

    1) This proposal in our time, as it did in 2004, comes from the conservative side, not the “progressive” side. Progressives, up to now, and on the main, want us to stay together. But they also believe that we must be a true “big tent” church, and not just a pretend big tent.

    2) Conservatives are proposing this at a time when they are still “winning” all the votes. (“winning” is obviously offensive language…I will us it below, and I apologize for it, but it’s a quick way to make the point)

    I want to say more about this second point…

    There is no possible way to show that the UMC’s policies on LGBT persons have become more “liberal” in the past 40 years. In fact, it’s clear that they’ve become more restrictive. (1996 and the restrictions on same sex weddings. Disgusting, genital-based definitions of “self avowed” and many others examples…)

    During my entire ministry, conservatives have shrieked that the UMC is losing members because it’s too “liberal.” But the clear evidence is that over that past 40 years, we’ve become nothing but more *conservative.*

    And, guess what? We’re still losing members!!

    So, it cannot, de facto be, because we are straying too far to the liberal end of the theological spectrum. I make the argument, in fact, that we are losing members because we are moving in a conservative direction, when the rest of American society is moving in a progressive direction.

    See this blog here: http://wheneftalks.com/2012/11/09/what-the-presidential-election-should-teach-the-united-methodist-church/

    So, everyone should really step back for a moment and ask a very serious question: Why would conservatives be suggesting separation at a time when they are “winning” every single fight at General Conference over 40 years? People who are “winning” a debate don’t normally threaten to *leave.*

    It clearly makes it seems as if there is some other agenda. Perhaps not in the minds and hearts of everyone who is threatening to leave. But at least in the minds and hearts of some. Again, people who are on the “winning” side of a debate don’t normally leave.

    Finally, let me speak to your idea that you fear this means an ultimate end where progressives “leave.” That is most certainly one possible outcome. It would be regrettable, and certainly not something I would favor at this time. But I only point out this one thing: That if we split thusly *once* we will be likely to split *again* between conservative and moderate. This was pointed out to me by some moderate friends about four years ago. Moderates, in the long run, would not be able to sustain a denomination without the progressive wing, and would eventually also separate from the conservatives…or vice versa…however it happens, it would happen. So, if we split once, we split again.

    I reviewed all this in the following blog, for those who are interested in the logic: http://wheneftalks.com/2013/05/13/is-schism-the-best-future-for-the-umc-why-why-not/

    That makes, despite the vitriolic rhetoric of some, the likelihood of split less than it might appear right now. But change is absolutely coming, in some form or fashion. I’m not smart enough to know *how* it will happen. But I know that I still yearn for the truly “big tent” (not “pretend” big tent”) global church where conservatives, moderates and progressives can all find and keep their place.

    I believe God has given us the gifts to be smart enough to figure out how to do this. It’s an open question as to whether we will.

    • Thank you, Eric. I very much agree with this: one split is going to lead to another split. That’s the nature of church splits, unfortunately. I sense optimism in your post–and that is helpful for me to read. I personally have very strong memories of the Fundamentalist take-over of the Southern Baptist Church, and what is happening now in the UMC seems to be paralleling much of that earlier tragedy. I hope I am wrong.

      • Another UMC clergy, who also has a SBC background, wrote me privately to defend your “inquisition” language. He said “that’s what that felt like,” (ie what happened to the SBC) and “that’s what this feels like too.”

        I think awareness is key to avoiding that kind of outcome…and faith that God can perhaps lead us all in new ways we can’t see just yet.

  • Bishop McLee has a reasonable answer. A bishop has the authority to decide how serious, and threatening to the Methodist Church, it might be if a member is gay or if a minister marries two gay people. The bishop decided that it is a trivial “offense”, and has declared that he will not try anyone and, thereby, will not defrock any minister. People in his conference agree. Other bishops probably agree. That does not protect members of others areas, but it is a start. People are changing their minds. My kids think homophobia is evil. I did not think that way until I was 21 or 22, although I shocked my parents by supporting the Civil Rights Movement when I was about 12. They forbid me to go to the big March on Washington in 1964; a year or two later I began marching and organizing against the War in Vietnam. People change. My son and daughter-in-law were Soldierrs from 2002 – 2009. They thought that “don’t ask don’t tell” was a “sick” rule that kept good people out of the Army when people were needed badly. While stationed at FT Hood, Killeen, TX, they considered joining a church. Their first question: “Does the Methodist Church accept gay people?”

    • Life experience often does collide with theology–which itself has been shaped by life experience. I suspect most of the younger generation thinks we are a bunch of idiots to still be arguing about this, but there has always been a “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” type argument in the church.

  • Bishop McLee has a reasonable answer. A bishop has the authority to decide how serious, and threatening to the Methodist Church, it might be if a member is gay or if a minister marries two gay people. The bishop decided that it is a trivial “offense”, and has declared that he will not try anyone and, thereby, will not defrock any minister. People in his conference agree. Other bishops probably agree. That does not protect members of others areas, but it is a start. People are changing their minds. My kids think homophobia is evil. I did not think that way until I was 21 or 22, although I shocked my parents by supporting the Civil Rights Movement when I was about 12. They forbid me to go to the big March on Washington in 1964; a year or two later I began marching and organizing against the War in Vietnam. People change. My son and daughter-in-law were Soldierrs from 2002 – 2009. They thought that “don’t ask don’t tell” was a “sick” rule that kept good people out of the Army when people were needed badly. While stationed at FT Hood, Killeen, TX, they considered joining a church. Their first question: “Does the Methodist Church accept gay people?”

    • Life experience often does collide with theology–which itself has been shaped by life experience. I suspect most of the younger generation thinks we are a bunch of idiots to still be arguing about this, but there has always been a “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” type argument in the church.

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  • I comment as one without any status in the UMC and without confidence that I have anything to offer, but I write this as one concerned about the present conflict(s) within the UMC. When I think of the UMC, I think of the generous and compassionate response made to people struggling in so many ways. One thought is that, for a while, each time the reasons for the division are raised is for each person to respond, “There are reasons for change, but for a while let’s discuss the aspects of how we go about the mission of the UMC (Paragraph 122 in the Book of Discipline, I think) and how we might respond together, particularly to those who suffer. After we finish that discussion and our response, let’s go back to the ‘divisions’ discussion.”

  • I comment as one without any status in the UMC and without confidence that I have anything to offer, but I write this as one concerned about the present conflict(s) within the UMC. When I think of the UMC, I think of the generous and compassionate response made to people struggling in so many ways. One thought is that, for a while, each time the reasons for the division are raised is for each person to respond, “There are reasons for change, but for a while let’s discuss the aspects of how we go about the mission of the UMC (Paragraph 122 in the Book of Discipline, I think) and how we might respond together, particularly to those who suffer. After we finish that discussion and our response, let’s go back to the ‘divisions’ discussion.”

  • Somehow your “lie or leave” statement rings a bit hollow. Those who have performed same sex marriages and others (Bishops) who have instigated and approved them in direct betrayal of an oath they took before God when they took office, have already lied and left. I think it only fitting that they have the integrity at this point to form their own denomination (or, perhaps merge with the Unitarians).

    • The sky is falling!!!!!!! The sodomites and their enablers should have been given the right foot of fellowship long ago. They are a stage 4b metastatic cancer in the body of Christ. Separation is good, separation is biblical, separation is commanded, when done to rid the body of willful and unrepentant sin. Jesus Himself said so, and the Apostle Paul affirmed it.

  • Somehow your “lie or leave” statement rings a bit hollow. Those who have performed same sex marriages and others (Bishops) who have instigated and approved them in direct betrayal of an oath they took before God when they took office, have already lied and left. I think it only fitting that they have the integrity at this point to form their own denomination (or, perhaps merge with the Unitarians).

    • The sky is falling!!!!!!! The sodomites and their enablers should have been given the right foot of fellowship long ago. They are a stage 4b metastatic cancer in the body of Christ. Separation is good, separation is biblical, separation is commanded, when done to rid the body of willful and unrepentant sin. Jesus Himself said so, and the Apostle Paul affirmed it.

  • Rob Renfroe

    Christy, you just could not be further from the truth. Why don’t you talk to some of the people involved before you identify them with those who burned people at the stake? I can’t imagine the names I would be called if I wrote about progressives the way you have traditionalists.

    • Rob, what are your plans for clergy who do not adhere to the BOD the way you want them do because they cannot live and minister in integrity under principles they see as actually violating the bigger picture of both the BOD and of scriptural mandates as they understand them? Will there be charges filed, trials held, and credentials stripped from them? What about those clergy who are leading their churches not to honor their disciplinary responsibilities to pay their apportionments? Will there be charges filed, trials held, and the stripping of their credentials? What about those who refuse to baptize infants? What about those who don’t have a UMW, or are not taking up all the special offerings or . . . any of the other minutia of the BOD which are easy to overlook. What are the plans for such recalcitrant ones?

      • So we should just write off the Book of Discipline as irrelevant and have everyone live by their conscience alone?

        I can’t imagine anyone I know who is open to the idea of separation deciding to take away clergy pensions or penalize people for their beliefs. If separation comes, the goal would be to do it in as amicable and Christian a manner as possible. Think Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15. Perhaps we could accomplish more for the Kingdom of God if we were free to pursue our mission and ministry in the way we feel led by God, without the constant fighting.

        • About 25 years ago, I watched in horror as a group of conservatives arranged for the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. Massive numbers of good people lost jobs and all the benefits that come with them in the name of purifying the denomination. The very conservative Southern Baptists continue to shrink. (See: http://www.christianpost.com/news/overall-declining-numbers-for-southern-baptists-heartbreaking-says-leader-97396). What is getting ready to happen to the UMC has scary parallels to that takeover–and I believe both groups who are/were the architects of the take-overs did so with the best of motives.

          But the damage to clergy will be extreme (you do fairly clearly want the progressives to leave so that does mean no appointments and no health insurance). It won’t be as simple as you think to arrange for them to keep pensions because of unfunded liabilities and the extreme financial vulnerability of defined benefit pensions plans, which many older clergy have.

          The damage to the reputation of the UMC as a place where grace is lived and taught will probably be irreparable.

          I also speak as one who lived for years in the atmosphere of “pure” doctrine–and heresy trials were no joke there, although they would be cloaked with nicer language. There are bigger human patterns here and the more pure people need the doctrines to be, the more likely it is that heads will fall in the name of “love.” I believe that these kinds of actions are in direct disobedience to the commands of Scriptures to care for the widows, orphans and sojourners (i.e;, the ones who don’t fit) and is also in deep violation of the overall message and requirements laid out in the BOD. This post states that with a lot more thoroughness than I can: http://www.rmnblog.org/2014/04/marriage-equality.html.

          David, the conservatives have the power and the votes. You will “win” but at what cost? Jesus reminded his disciples when they were eagerly jostling for the prime positions in the kingdom, “The first shall be last.”

          I am unable to see real Christianity shining through yet one more conservative takeover. And I also believe along with Eric that there will be further doctrinal splits among the conservatives after this one, because that’s what happens in the name of doctrinal purity.

          Yes, my heart is broken. And my blog is where I speak of these things.

        • No, we do not throw out the Book of Discipline. But we do recognize that the BOD is neither inerrant nor infallible and we made adjustments as necessary. Here is a very good article stating how the current language marking out “practicing” lesbians and gays as those living a life incompatible with Christian teaching it itself incompatible with the BOD: http://www.rmnblog.org/2014/04/marriage-equality.html

  • Rob Renfroe

    Christy, you just could not be further from the truth. Why don’t you talk to some of the people involved before you identify them with those who burned people at the stake? I can’t imagine the names I would be called if I wrote about progressives the way you have traditionalists.

    • Rob, what are your plans for clergy who do not adhere to the BOD the way you want them do because they cannot live and minister in integrity under principles they see as actually violating the bigger picture of both the BOD and of scriptural mandates as they understand them? Will there be charges filed, trials held, and credentials stripped from them? What about those clergy who are leading their churches not to honor their disciplinary responsibilities to pay their apportionments? Will there be charges filed, trials held, and the stripping of their credentials? What about those who refuse to baptize infants? What about those who don’t have a UMW, or are not taking up all the special offerings or . . . any of the other minutia of the BOD which are easy to overlook. What are the plans for such recalcitrant ones?

      • So we should just write off the Book of Discipline as irrelevant and have everyone live by their conscience alone?

        I can’t imagine anyone I know who is open to the idea of separation deciding to take away clergy pensions or penalize people for their beliefs. If separation comes, the goal would be to do it in as amicable and Christian a manner as possible. Think Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15. Perhaps we could accomplish more for the Kingdom of God if we were free to pursue our mission and ministry in the way we feel led by God, without the constant fighting.

        • About 25 years ago, I watched in horror as a group of conservatives arranged for the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. Massive numbers of good people lost jobs and all the benefits that come with them in the name of purifying the denomination. The very conservative Southern Baptists continue to shrink. (See: http://www.christianpost.com/news/overall-declining-numbers-for-southern-baptists-heartbreaking-says-leader-97396). What is getting ready to happen to the UMC has scary parallels to that takeover–and I believe both groups who are/were the architects of the take-overs did so with the best of motives.

          But the damage to clergy will be extreme (you do fairly clearly want the progressives to leave so that does mean no appointments and no health insurance). It won’t be as simple as you think to arrange for them to keep pensions because of unfunded liabilities and the extreme financial vulnerability of defined benefit pensions plans, which many older clergy have.

          The damage to the reputation of the UMC as a place where grace is lived and taught will probably be irreparable.

          I also speak as one who lived for years in the atmosphere of “pure” doctrine–and heresy trials were no joke there, although they would be cloaked with nicer language. There are bigger human patterns here and the more pure people need the doctrines to be, the more likely it is that heads will fall in the name of “love.” I believe that these kinds of actions are in direct disobedience to the commands of Scriptures to care for the widows, orphans and sojourners (i.e;, the ones who don’t fit) and is also in deep violation of the overall message and requirements laid out in the BOD. This post states that with a lot more thoroughness than I can: http://www.rmnblog.org/2014/04/marriage-equality.html.

          David, the conservatives have the power and the votes. You will “win” but at what cost? Jesus reminded his disciples when they were eagerly jostling for the prime positions in the kingdom, “The first shall be last.”

          I am unable to see real Christianity shining through yet one more conservative takeover. And I also believe along with Eric that there will be further doctrinal splits among the conservatives after this one, because that’s what happens in the name of doctrinal purity.

          Yes, my heart is broken. And my blog is where I speak of these things.

        • No, we do not throw out the Book of Discipline. But we do recognize that the BOD is neither inerrant nor infallible and we made adjustments as necessary. Here is a very good article stating how the current language marking out “practicing” lesbians and gays as those living a life incompatible with Christian teaching it itself incompatible with the BOD: http://www.rmnblog.org/2014/04/marriage-equality.html

  • Vera

    Is it any surprise the motto of the next general conference is “Therefore, Go!”?

  • Vera

    Is it any surprise the motto of the next general conference is “Therefore, Go!”?

  • Kristen Dart

    Diane I am sorry that you feel you can not be in convent with two people who have entered a mutually loving and consensual relationship. I think that you are right to leave the ministry, because clearly you lack love and compassion for others. You have a clear intent to cause harm to others and that is a struggle you should deal with personally and not while in leadership of the church

  • Kristen Dart

    Diane I am sorry that you feel you can not be in convent with two people who have entered a mutually loving and consensual relationship. I think that you are right to leave the ministry, because clearly you lack love and compassion for others. You have a clear intent to cause harm to others and that is a struggle you should deal with personally and not while in leadership of the church

  • Jay Ferguson

    All you liberals can look on the bright side. You can work in hospice care thru ACA. The Lord knows how may people will die due to that bureaucracy

    • And Lord knows how many of those seven million people who were previously excluded from any medical care except emergency room situations might live and thrive now. I just hope in time the other 25 million or so uninsured people living below the poverty line in Texas alone will be able to get coverage. Yes, it will be my privilege to be in ministry with the poor, a United Methodist mandate. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • Jay Ferguson

        Your modern secular utopia will die like all the rest but can keep clicking your Rosie Red Slippers if it feels good for you.

  • Jay Ferguson

    All you liberals can look on the bright side. You can work in hospice care thru ACA. The Lord knows how may people will die due to that bureaucracy

    • And Lord knows how many of those seven million people who were previously excluded from any medical care except emergency room situations might live and thrive now. I just hope in time the other 25 million or so uninsured people living below the poverty line in Texas alone will be able to get coverage. Yes, it will be my privilege to be in ministry with the poor, a United Methodist mandate. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • Jay Ferguson

        Your modern secular utopia will die like all the rest but can keep clicking your Rosie Red Slippers if it feels good for you.

  • A Current Duke Div Student

    How about you offer some ways forward/fair solutions instead of flinging boogers at the other side?

    • OK, here we go:

      First, here’s a great piece that makes the point that the BOD actually supports inclusion. It’s a must read. http://www.rmnblog.org/2014/04/marriage-equality.html

      Then, I suggest we remove the portions specifically dealing with the “incompatibility with Christianity” and call ALL Christians, and especially clergy, to high sexual standards. The progressives absolutely do not advocate for no moral code, or for the so-called “homosexual lifestyle” which is no worse the the “heterosexual lifestyle.” Promiscuity is promiscuity, no matter what the sexual orientation. We need to recapture a theology of sexuality. I did some work on it here, but more needs to be written: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtfulpastor/2012/05/01/questions-of-sexuality-and-righteousness/

      Finally, we agree that the consciences and biblical convictions of individual clergy and laity must be honored and no one be forced to so something they find morally troubling. We agree that this is a complex situation without easy resolution and chose to respect the different conclusions that we are reaching now and trust in time that we will find greater clarity. This is the kind of generosity that we seem to be lacking now.

      I’d certainly like to see further suggestions.

      • Jay Ferguson

        How about we keep it like it is and, being the gentleman that I am, I hold the door open for you on your way out.

  • A Current Duke Div Student

    How about you offer some ways forward/fair solutions instead of flinging boogers at the other side?

    • OK, here we go:

      First, here’s a great piece that makes the point that the BOD actually supports inclusion. It’s a must read. http://www.rmnblog.org/2014/04/marriage-equality.html

      Then, I suggest we remove the portions specifically dealing with the “incompatibility with Christianity” and call ALL Christians, and especially clergy, to high sexual standards. The progressives absolutely do not advocate for no moral code, or for the so-called “homosexual lifestyle” which is no worse the the “heterosexual lifestyle.” Promiscuity is promiscuity, no matter what the sexual orientation. We need to recapture a theology of sexuality. I did some work on it here, but more needs to be written: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtfulpastor/2012/05/01/questions-of-sexuality-and-righteousness/

      Finally, we agree that the consciences and biblical convictions of individual clergy and laity must be honored and no one be forced to so something they find morally troubling. We agree that this is a complex situation without easy resolution and chose to respect the different conclusions that we are reaching now and trust in time that we will find greater clarity. This is the kind of generosity that we seem to be lacking now.

      I’d certainly like to see further suggestions.

      • Jay Ferguson

        How about we keep it like it is and, being the gentleman that I am, I hold the door open for you on your way out.

  • Robin

    As someone who grew up in the SBC but left due to the conservatization movement, joined a Presbyterian church (USA) in my neighborhood, who chose to disassociate from the this group because they feared someone would MAKE them accept a GLBT pastor, I now attend a UMC so here we go again. The fact that many would call this a ‘purification’ of the church just makes me ill. We are NOT ONE, good enough to get into heaven on our own, but obviously there are some who are so sure they know the mind of God that they can exclude others from full or even limited participation in God’s church. If my current church congregation should decide to separate I believe that would likely be my last association with organized religion.

    • Sounds like we have similar backgrounds. I think a lot of UMC’s are totally unfamiliar with the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC and therefore are genuinely ignorant of the damage and harm done to that denomination–and to so many good people who just were not “pure” enough to pass muster. It’s a dangerous concept.

  • Robin

    As someone who grew up in the SBC but left due to the conservatization movement, joined a Presbyterian church (USA) in my neighborhood, who chose to disassociate from the this group because they feared someone would MAKE them accept a GLBT pastor, I now attend a UMC so here we go again. The fact that many would call this a ‘purification’ of the church just makes me ill. We are NOT ONE, good enough to get into heaven on our own, but obviously there are some who are so sure they know the mind of God that they can exclude others from full or even limited participation in God’s church. If my current church congregation should decide to separate I believe that would likely be my last association with organized religion.

    • Sounds like we have similar backgrounds. I think a lot of UMC’s are totally unfamiliar with the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC and therefore are genuinely ignorant of the damage and harm done to that denomination–and to so many good people who just were not “pure” enough to pass muster. It’s a dangerous concept.

  • Lee Yeager

    I think the 60 members should read Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s “You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right.” We should all be wary of people who think they own the truth.

  • Lee Yeager

    I think the 60 members should read Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s “You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right.” We should all be wary of people who think they own the truth.

  • Hasty Pudding

    Ms. Thomas,

    As I am reading the replies to your blog post after having read your blog post, I cant help but take notice of the amount of vitriolic and inflammatory language involved in the replies to the posting. What are we missing here? I think that there are several factors involved and I thank you all for allowing me to have the opportunity to share them in this forum.

    The first factor is one of “it’s not my sin, therefore it must be wrong.” Imagine this scenario. A town in Anystate, USA installs cameras at each intersection to catch those that run red lights and the people go nuts about it. “How can they do this? It’s an intrusion into our lives!! Big brother is watching us!!” they cry. Meetings are held at the city council and many attend to have their voices heard. But the same community has had surveillance cameras in all of their convenience stores for years to prevent theft, without a whimper of protest from anybody. The difference? Many can not see that they would break the law of theft, but all see that they will break the law of running the red light, so there becomes a ranking of law that makes one worse than the other based on the propensity of the general populous to break said law. Both are laws that stand to be broken, but the enforcement of one is perceived as more invasive than the other based on the human propensity to break said law. Most of us can’t see ourselves breaking the law of theft, but hey…..who hasn’t run a red light at one time or another? The argument of moral equivalences often serves our own means.

    The second factor kind of dove-tails in with the first. I call it “the icky factor.”

    “I cant imagine some act like that going on in my bedroom, so therefore it must be wrong.” again the argument of moral equivalences. If I won’t do it then you sure as heck can’t!!

    What we are missing out on in all of this argument is Christ himself that set the new standards. Ones of love, ministry, and acceptance for all…..especially those out on the fringes, those that have been the most hurt by those that claim the name of God. Christ’s entire ministry was one of acceptance and forgiveness. We, the modern church, have become no better than the Pharasee’s that executed Christ. Adhere to the law or be damned from God for all of eternity. I can’t help but think that we have, once again, strayed from becoming “THE Church”.

    Thankfully we serve a God of infinite second chances, and God’s love will shine through all of this. We human’s are going to screw it up at every opportunity by imposing OUR will into the message that Christ brought to us and indemnified by His triumph over execution. The stone was rolled away, and up form the grave he arose!! Giving us all hope, redemption, and salvation…or at least the chance to obtain it if we will allow Him in our lives.

    As our denomination continues to discuss and debate this issue, I pray that we focus on Christ’s message to us all. When he told us to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” I kinda think that he meant that, and that includes my neighbor that is nothing like me. I hope that we all pray for God’s guidance in all of this. May each meeting be started, interrupted, and ended,,,,,with prayer. Prayers of God’s guidance. Prayers to follow the guidance given to us from God.

    • Amen.

    • Really well stated–and I particularly like your having noted the “icky factor.” I’ve been thinking about that as well and remember learning some things in my anthropology studies years ago about the cultural impact on that icky factor. Will write more about that soon. Very much appreciate what you have written here.

  • Hasty Pudding

    Ms. Thomas,

    As I am reading the replies to your blog post after having read your blog post, I cant help but take notice of the amount of vitriolic and inflammatory language involved in the replies to the posting. What are we missing here? I think that there are several factors involved and I thank you all for allowing me to have the opportunity to share them in this forum.

    The first factor is one of “it’s not my sin, therefore it must be wrong.” Imagine this scenario. A town in Anystate, USA installs cameras at each intersection to catch those that run red lights and the people go nuts about it. “How can they do this? It’s an intrusion into our lives!! Big brother is watching us!!” they cry. Meetings are held at the city council and many attend to have their voices heard. But the same community has had surveillance cameras in all of their convenience stores for years to prevent theft, without a whimper of protest from anybody. The difference? Many can not see that they would break the law of theft, but all see that they will break the law of running the red light, so there becomes a ranking of law that makes one worse than the other based on the propensity of the general populous to break said law. Both are laws that stand to be broken, but the enforcement of one is perceived as more invasive than the other based on the human propensity to break said law. Most of us can’t see ourselves breaking the law of theft, but hey…..who hasn’t run a red light at one time or another? The argument of moral equivalences often serves our own means.

    The second factor kind of dove-tails in with the first. I call it “the icky factor.”

    “I cant imagine some act like that going on in my bedroom, so therefore it must be wrong.” again the argument of moral equivalences. If I won’t do it then you sure as heck can’t!!

    What we are missing out on in all of this argument is Christ himself that set the new standards. Ones of love, ministry, and acceptance for all…..especially those out on the fringes, those that have been the most hurt by those that claim the name of God. Christ’s entire ministry was one of acceptance and forgiveness. We, the modern church, have become no better than the Pharasee’s that executed Christ. Adhere to the law or be damned from God for all of eternity. I can’t help but think that we have, once again, strayed from becoming “THE Church”.

    Thankfully we serve a God of infinite second chances, and God’s love will shine through all of this. We human’s are going to screw it up at every opportunity by imposing OUR will into the message that Christ brought to us and indemnified by His triumph over execution. The stone was rolled away, and up form the grave he arose!! Giving us all hope, redemption, and salvation…or at least the chance to obtain it if we will allow Him in our lives.

    As our denomination continues to discuss and debate this issue, I pray that we focus on Christ’s message to us all. When he told us to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” I kinda think that he meant that, and that includes my neighbor that is nothing like me. I hope that we all pray for God’s guidance in all of this. May each meeting be started, interrupted, and ended,,,,,with prayer. Prayers of God’s guidance. Prayers to follow the guidance given to us from God.

    • Amen.

    • Really well stated–and I particularly like your having noted the “icky factor.” I’ve been thinking about that as well and remember learning some things in my anthropology studies years ago about the cultural impact on that icky factor. Will write more about that soon. Very much appreciate what you have written here.

  • Rev. Dr. Kevin Higgs

    Until you’ve been attacked by a Bishop/DS; until you’ve had false allegations, harassment, and punitive appointments made to ruin your career, until you’ve been slandered in the press and had your character assassinated among your Annual Conference peers, its easy to sit in your chair and say this blog is extremist. This blog is a faithful, reasoned prediction based upon the behavior of the parties involved. Although no one is being killed, there is an inquisition. There is a “purge” of clergy. In the Southeastern Jurisdiction, this is life in the United Methodist Church. If you are an activist/ally for/of GLBT people, you will be targeted. I have been targeted. I have filled complaints against those who attacked me. These complaints have been dismissed. I have learned that the Book of Discipline of the UMC is a tool of the Bishop/DS to attack those clergy who ‘step over the line’ (whatever line they decide), and protect the institution from those, like myself, who have tried to hold them accountable. It is the Bishop’s book.

    • Rev. Dr. Kevin Higgs

      http://www.justiceforreconciler.com

      This is the story of the church, written by lay members, after I was falsely accused of financial misconduct and removed.

      • OK, I just skimmed through the history–and now I remember reading about your situation a year or so ago. Unbelievable tragedy–and you and the church were part of the deep damage done. I am so sorry.

  • Rev. Dr. Kevin Higgs

    Until you’ve been attacked by a Bishop/DS; until you’ve had false allegations, harassment, and punitive appointments made to ruin your career, until you’ve been slandered in the press and had your character assassinated among your Annual Conference peers, its easy to sit in your chair and say this blog is extremist. This blog is a faithful, reasoned prediction based upon the behavior of the parties involved. Although no one is being killed, there is an inquisition. There is a “purge” of clergy. In the Southeastern Jurisdiction, this is life in the United Methodist Church. If you are an activist/ally for/of GLBT people, you will be targeted. I have been targeted. I have filled complaints against those who attacked me. These complaints have been dismissed. I have learned that the Book of Discipline of the UMC is a tool of the Bishop/DS to attack those clergy who ‘step over the line’ (whatever line they decide), and protect the institution from those, like myself, who have tried to hold them accountable. It is the Bishop’s book.

    • Rev. Dr. Kevin Higgs

      http://www.justiceforreconciler.com

      This is the story of the church, written by lay members, after I was falsely accused of financial misconduct and removed.

      • OK, I just skimmed through the history–and now I remember reading about your situation a year or so ago. Unbelievable tragedy–and you and the church were part of the deep damage done. I am so sorry.

  • David J Turner

    This is extreme Christy. You are better than this. I am a conservative and have many friends on both sides of this issue. To say that I, or anyone else wants to leave them without pension is absurd. Do you even know any of the people you rail against? Rob is a decent man, and you describe a devil. Yes, Christy you really need to write something that corrects this. But then it got a little ‘rush’ on your blog. So there is that.

  • David J Turner

    This is extreme Christy. You are better than this. I am a conservative and have many friends on both sides of this issue. To say that I, or anyone else wants to leave them without pension is absurd. Do you even know any of the people you rail against? Rob is a decent man, and you describe a devil. Yes, Christy you really need to write something that corrects this. But then it got a little ‘rush’ on your blog. So there is that.

  • But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, Mal. 3:2-3 Just how tolerant will the Lord be when seeking to purify the eternal CHURCH? You note in this passage it is those in ministry who are put through the fire. Do you really believe it is to find those who are most tolerant of sin, who welcome it and advocate for it? The problem, as I see it, is not keeping the LBGT&Q people out of church, because we have all come to Christ as sinners. The problem is offering them nothing to challenge them to ask Christ to help them be changed. That is what we tell anyone else who is struggling with sin. Confess, repent, and strive to be righteous and then onward to sanctification, all with the help of the Holy Spirit. We offer that to adulterers, fornicators, thieves, et.al, but not to the LBGT&Q people who come through the church doors? Now, who needs refining the most, the sinner or the pastor who let them die in their sin without offering them a solution?

    • Jay Ferguson

      Well said

    • Joel MacMillan

      That comparison doesn’t hold up. Neither the sinners you mention, nor any others, are denied full marriage equality simply because of how they were born or because of whom they love. And if we’re all sinners, then you’d have to also admit that most sins don’t preclude someone from full participation in leadership roles.

      • The difference is in confessing and repenting of our sins. When anyone refuses to do that are they not in danger of the fire. Play out your stance a bit, you have a church member who has been caught embezzling at the bank where she works. She was dismissed from her job, but found acceptance from her church members. Now, she wants to be on the Teller Committee, maybe be on the Finance Committee. Now she never offered any remorse for her offense and never renounced her behavior and feels that everyone should just let her go forward and be who she is without challenge. So, do you go forward with installing her on the Finance Committee or let her be on the Teller crew and count the money? We all are born with a bent towards sin and we act out in various areas of life in the commission of our favorite sins. The challenge is put before all of us to lay them down and be renewed in Christ. Denying that we have sin makes us liars.

        • No one is denying that sin is everywhere and repentance opens the doors to grace. It is a question of what we need to repent of. those in the LGBTQ community are asked to repent of who they are; others are asked to repent of what they did. That’s the source of the big divide.

        • Christy, that is one point that we do not accept (that we are asking LGBT people to repent for who they are). We do not believe that a person’s identity is defined by their romantic attractions. Our foremost identity as a Christian is “child of God.” Everything else has to flow from that. You wouldn’t tell a man who is sexually attracted to children that that is his identity. Yet that is just one of many sexual orientations as defined by the American Psychological Association. No matter what our attractions are, we are responsible to live according to God’s intent for us. You are right that this is one source of the divide between us.

    • Larry

      Well, your thought process is archaic – that is the problem with your ilk. You are saying that being LBGTQ is a sin and a LBGTQ person should repent of said sin and “change.” This archaic thought process is the source of the divide and future of the UMC, or should we now say the MC (not united). You see, you can be born lesbian and gay; it’s been proven, and the result can drive a person, in our society, to further develop this into transsexual or bisexual (many Christians are bisexual). This happens not only with the intersexed, but also those with genetic sequencing that makes men androphilic and women non-androphilic (androphilic is “man loving”). So, why we are all born in sin, the androphilic male and the non-adrophilic female are just that, man loving males and female loving females who are not in sin because of this fact. They are gay which is not synonymous to the teller that stole money (very bigoted thought), they are, in fact, humans who happen to be different than you and they don’t “base their life on bedroom behavior”. Rather, since they are different, they have to continually explain this difference giving strait folk that bigoted thought. YOU, and your like-minded ilk, will have to change and realize that a person is not a sinner because they are different than you. If a person is trust worthy and a leader, give them a leadership role. Period.

      • You are entitled to your beliefs. You would be welcome in other churches, Unitarian, or any of the already schismed churches. Why is it so important to destroy the UMC? You are likely driven by other forces that seek only to divide. There is no proof of a “Homosexual” gene. Every person is born with a bent towards sin, sins of all different kinds. In time the seed of sin can be nurtured to grow in certain area of life with the ultimate goal of destroying the individual, their usefulness to Christ, and ultimately their eternal life. I am a sinner, just as are all people . . . but I don’t try to get the rest of the world to accept my pet sins and label them OK, I don’t expect the UMC to make special dispensation for my sin or to elevate my position when I am unwilling to confess it and turn from it. If I had not witnessed “homosexuals” turn from that lifestyle and be filled with the the power to resist its temptation, then I would have no reason to expect others to do so. I am glad not to be the judge of anyone or their sins, but I do have the right to not have it waved like a banner that I must salute and approve.

        • Larry

          Mike: Funny that you send me to other churches. I think you nailed the response.

          For remedy, start by googling “FucM gene”. You can follow that thread of knowledge. You are right that there is no “homosexual” gene because it’s not an abnormality. However, there is a gene, the FucM gene, that is “on” in straight females causing them to be androphilic (men loving) and “off” in straight males causing them to be non-male loving. However, mutation to this gene (not uncommon) causes this gene to be “off” in some females and “on” in some males. This causes folks to be born gay and lesbian. This is true, not a “belief” of mine or a “sin” of others. Additionally, the chemistry of a women’s womb can change overtime. This can “epigenetically” cause the switching of these genes in offspring (see http://scitechdaily.com/homosexuality-might-develop-in-the-womb-due-to-epigenetic-changes/). Finally, humans can choose to be homosexual. Oddly, bisexuality and transgender is commonly caused by those individuals that are born gay and are “turned” away from the gay lifestyle because of guilt, also commonly associated with Christianity. Mike: I would say 1) review current biology; 2) release your biases; and 3) have an open heart like Jesus. You will be better for it. By the way, I’ll stay at the Methodist church, where I waive nothing if folks faces except honesty and grace.

  • But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, Mal. 3:2-3 Just how tolerant will the Lord be when seeking to purify the eternal CHURCH? You note in this passage it is those in ministry who are put through the fire. Do you really believe it is to find those who are most tolerant of sin, who welcome it and advocate for it? The problem, as I see it, is not keeping the LBGT&Q people out of church, because we have all come to Christ as sinners. The problem is offering them nothing to challenge them to ask Christ to help them be changed. That is what we tell anyone else who is struggling with sin. Confess, repent, and strive to be righteous and then onward to sanctification, all with the help of the Holy Spirit. We offer that to adulterers, fornicators, thieves, et.al, but not to the LBGT&Q people who come through the church doors? Now, who needs refining the most, the sinner or the pastor who let them die in their sin without offering them a solution?

    • Jay Ferguson

      Well said

    • Joel MacMillan

      That comparison doesn’t hold up. Neither the sinners you mention, nor any others, are denied full marriage equality simply because of how they were born or because of whom they love. And if we’re all sinners, then you’d have to also admit that most sins don’t preclude someone from full participation in leadership roles.

      • The difference is in confessing and repenting of our sins. When anyone refuses to do that are they not in danger of the fire. Play out your stance a bit, you have a church member who has been caught embezzling at the bank where she works. She was dismissed from her job, but found acceptance from her church members. Now, she wants to be on the Teller Committee, maybe be on the Finance Committee. Now she never offered any remorse for her offense and never renounced her behavior and feels that everyone should just let her go forward and be who she is without challenge. So, do you go forward with installing her on the Finance Committee or let her be on the Teller crew and count the money? We all are born with a bent towards sin and we act out in various areas of life in the commission of our favorite sins. The challenge is put before all of us to lay them down and be renewed in Christ. Denying that we have sin makes us liars.

        • No one is denying that sin is everywhere and repentance opens the doors to grace. It is a question of what we need to repent of. those in the LGBTQ community are asked to repent of who they are; others are asked to repent of what they did. That’s the source of the big divide.

        • Christy, that is one point that we do not accept (that we are asking LGBT people to repent for who they are). We do not believe that a person’s identity is defined by their romantic attractions. Our foremost identity as a Christian is “child of God.” Everything else has to flow from that. You wouldn’t tell a man who is sexually attracted to children that that is his identity. Yet that is just one of many sexual orientations as defined by the American Psychological Association. No matter what our attractions are, we are responsible to live according to God’s intent for us. You are right that this is one source of the divide between us.

    • Larry

      Well, your thought process is archaic – that is the problem with your ilk. You are saying that being LBGTQ is a sin and a LBGTQ person should repent of said sin and “change.” This archaic thought process is the source of the divide and future of the UMC, or should we now say the MC (not united). You see, you can be born lesbian and gay; it’s been proven, and the result can drive a person, in our society, to further develop this into transsexual or bisexual (many Christians are bisexual). This happens not only with the intersexed, but also those with genetic sequencing that makes men androphilic and women non-androphilic (androphilic is “man loving”). So, why we are all born in sin, the androphilic male and the non-adrophilic female are just that, man loving males and female loving females who are not in sin because of this fact. They are gay which is not synonymous to the teller that stole money (very bigoted thought), they are, in fact, humans who happen to be different than you and they don’t “base their life on bedroom behavior”. Rather, since they are different, they have to continually explain this difference giving strait folk that bigoted thought. YOU, and your like-minded ilk, will have to change and realize that a person is not a sinner because they are different than you. If a person is trust worthy and a leader, give them a leadership role. Period.

      • You are entitled to your beliefs. You would be welcome in other churches, Unitarian, or any of the already schismed churches. Why is it so important to destroy the UMC? You are likely driven by other forces that seek only to divide. There is no proof of a “Homosexual” gene. Every person is born with a bent towards sin, sins of all different kinds. In time the seed of sin can be nurtured to grow in certain area of life with the ultimate goal of destroying the individual, their usefulness to Christ, and ultimately their eternal life. I am a sinner, just as are all people . . . but I don’t try to get the rest of the world to accept my pet sins and label them OK, I don’t expect the UMC to make special dispensation for my sin or to elevate my position when I am unwilling to confess it and turn from it. If I had not witnessed “homosexuals” turn from that lifestyle and be filled with the the power to resist its temptation, then I would have no reason to expect others to do so. I am glad not to be the judge of anyone or their sins, but I do have the right to not have it waved like a banner that I must salute and approve.

        • Larry

          Mike: Funny that you send me to other churches. I think you nailed the response.

          For remedy, start by googling “FucM gene”. You can follow that thread of knowledge. You are right that there is no “homosexual” gene because it’s not an abnormality. However, there is a gene, the FucM gene, that is “on” in straight females causing them to be androphilic (men loving) and “off” in straight males causing them to be non-male loving. However, mutation to this gene (not uncommon) causes this gene to be “off” in some females and “on” in some males. This causes folks to be born gay and lesbian. This is true, not a “belief” of mine or a “sin” of others. Additionally, the chemistry of a women’s womb can change overtime. This can “epigenetically” cause the switching of these genes in offspring (see http://scitechdaily.com/homosexuality-might-develop-in-the-womb-due-to-epigenetic-changes/). Finally, humans can choose to be homosexual. Oddly, bisexuality and transgender is commonly caused by those individuals that are born gay and are “turned” away from the gay lifestyle because of guilt, also commonly associated with Christianity. Mike: I would say 1) review current biology; 2) release your biases; and 3) have an open heart like Jesus. You will be better for it. By the way, I’ll stay at the Methodist church, where I waive nothing if folks faces except honesty and grace.

  • One commenter on this post wrote this when I said that the position of labeling LBGTQ as sinners in need of repentant : “You wouldn’t tell a man who is sexually attracted to children that that is his identity.” My original comment: “No one is denying that sin is everywhere and repentance opens the doors to grace. It is a question of what we need to repent of. those in the LGBTQ community are asked to repent of who they are; others are asked to repent of what they did. That’s the source of the big divide.”

    Now, that statement by the commenter has just indicated that two adults in a loving, committed, monogamous same-sex relationships live as the equivalents of pedophiles acting out on their impulses and violating the innocence of children.

    Years ago, when I was in a different world and seeking to find my voice as a female children of God in a world that operated out of what they saw as biblical imperatives to keep women in submission to men and out of pastoral roles in churches. You can only imagine how they felt about the homosexual. In one article, the chancellor of the seminary I attended noted that one of the big problems facing the church concerned the problems of women and homosexuals wanting leadership roles. I remember, in my own homophobic days, being appalled that just by virtue of being born a woman, I was classed with those unrepentant homosexual people. It hurt me to the core of my being. I realized then that the only way I could be acceptable in that world was to be in constant sorrow that I had been born a woman.

    And this is why I now stand with the LGTBQ community. I call us all to high standards of sexual immorality. But some of us are born male. Some of us are born femaie. Some are born both or neither: they are called the “intersexed” and are born with ambiguous genitalia. And some are born with a mental/emotional gender identity that does not fit their physical structure.

    And I think to equate such people with pedophiles has just crossed over to the world of non-grace, where the Good News has been silenced by the worship of a few obscure and highly debated texts in the Bible.

    I love the Scriptures, but I will no longer use them as a weapon. They are an invitation–and it is the very ones who are excluded by those in power who often end up at the wedding banquet.

  • One commenter on this post wrote this when I said that the position of labeling LBGTQ as sinners in need of repentant : “You wouldn’t tell a man who is sexually attracted to children that that is his identity.” My original comment: “No one is denying that sin is everywhere and repentance opens the doors to grace. It is a question of what we need to repent of. those in the LGBTQ community are asked to repent of who they are; others are asked to repent of what they did. That’s the source of the big divide.”

    Now, that statement by the commenter has just indicated that two adults in a loving, committed, monogamous same-sex relationships live as the equivalents of pedophiles acting out on their impulses and violating the innocence of children.

    Years ago, when I was in a different world and seeking to find my voice as a female children of God in a world that operated out of what they saw as biblical imperatives to keep women in submission to men and out of pastoral roles in churches. You can only imagine how they felt about the homosexual. In one article, the chancellor of the seminary I attended noted that one of the big problems facing the church concerned the problems of women and homosexuals wanting leadership roles. I remember, in my own homophobic days, being appalled that just by virtue of being born a woman, I was classed with those unrepentant homosexual people. It hurt me to the core of my being. I realized then that the only way I could be acceptable in that world was to be in constant sorrow that I had been born a woman.

    And this is why I now stand with the LGTBQ community. I call us all to high standards of sexual immorality. But some of us are born male. Some of us are born femaie. Some are born both or neither: they are called the “intersexed” and are born with ambiguous genitalia. And some are born with a mental/emotional gender identity that does not fit their physical structure.

    And I think to equate such people with pedophiles has just crossed over to the world of non-grace, where the Good News has been silenced by the worship of a few obscure and highly debated texts in the Bible.

    I love the Scriptures, but I will no longer use them as a weapon. They are an invitation–and it is the very ones who are excluded by those in power who often end up at the wedding banquet.

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