The Church's Gay Obsession and Our Hypocrisies #UMC

The Church's Gay Obsession and Our Hypocrisies #UMC October 6, 2014

© John Bigl |

I simply stole that headline, “The Church’s Gay Obsession” from this superb editorial in the October 5, 2014, edition of the New York Times.

Frank Bruni speaks eloquently of the Catholic church’s decisions to fire various teachers and leaders in Catholic schools and parishes because they were either in same-sex relationships or decided to marry their same-sex partners in states where they could do so legally.

When such actions are glibly justified by those saying things like, “They knew the rules of the club and deserve their punishment,” Bruni responds with a compelling list of the church’s hypocrisies, including:

The rules of this particular club prohibit divorce, yet the pews of many of the Catholic churches I’ve visited are populous with worshipers on their second and even third marriages. They walk merrily to the altar to receive communion, not a peep of protest from a soul around them . . .

The rules prohibit artificial birth control, and yet most of the Catholic families I know have no more than three children, which is either a miracle of naturally capped fecundity or a sign that someone’s been at the pharmacy.

He quotes the Rev. James Martin as saying:

 Is it more important to believe in the church’s teaching on same-sex marriage than to believe in the Resurrection — or even that God exists? I don’t hear anyone calling for the firing of the agnostic parish business manager.

Lisa Sowle Cahill, a professor of theology at Boston College is quoted this way:

“It’s about sex and gender issues,” she said, adding that it might be connected to the disgrace that church leaders brought upon themselves with their disastrous handling of child sexual abuse by priests. Perhaps, she said, they’re determined to find some sexual terrain on which they can strike a position of stern rectitude.

So, what does this have to do with The United Methodist Church and our current, divisive, destructive attitudes and arguments around sexuality that are about to sink this church and are already thoroughly masking our vital message of grace?

It’s time to get our eyes off the genital activities of others and stop poking into people’s bedrooms.

It’s time to move away from our own hypocrisy so similar to that of the RC church, focusing only on the behaviors of the same-sex community and ignoring the countless sexual transgressions taking place among the hetero population.

It’s time to recognize that outside the unending grace of God, all our lives are “incompatible with Christian teaching” because we are called to be perfect as God is perfect. If we are going to list one activity as “incompatible” then we need to return to our Catholic heritage and make a full list of mortal and venial sins. That list then needs to be added to the Book of Discipline as part of the qualifications to be in the ministry of the ordained. The current practice of spotty enforcement of what is and what is not compatible with Christian teaching reeks of self-blindness. Let us move to a more consistent place where any whiff of impurity shall be enough to stop the ordination process in its tracks, grace and the redemptive movements of God be damned.

It’s time to know that to be fighting among ourselves in the way we are over such a gray area as our sexuality is to say, “We prefer death to life, hell to heaven, human righteousness over God’s grace.”

It’s time to stop this madness before the next General Conference hits and we implode into a puff of forgettable dust, having become nothing but arguments and knowing nothing of mutual grace.

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