What the UMC can learn from the GOP health care debacle

What the UMC can learn from the GOP health care debacle July 18, 2017

The GOP just doesn’t care about health care and the well-being of millions. And the so-called “orthodox” portion of the UMC doesn’t care about anything but getting their way. As for what is Jesus-like about that, I am unable to say.

GOP health care: lets fight, not compromise
Armed and ready to fight

It’s over now. The Senate Republicans, hopelessly divided, can no longer dream of passing their version of a health care (or death care as many term it) bill.

They have two options before them.

The first is to reach across the aisle, start talking with the Democrats and work together to do the necessary work to stabilize the markets so that the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) works effectively.

The second is to do nothing to fix the ACA. Yes, it is working well in some markets, but there are significant problems with the structure. Many markets now have either just one ACA compliant insurer or none at all. The problems are imminently fixable, however.

To let the health insurance exchanges collapse means leaving millions devastated by an inability to get health insurance at any price, much less something that is affordable.

By working together, lawmakers can free energy to tap the creativity and hard work necessary to propose realistic and practical legislative proposals that will indeed be good for the health of the people in the US. By choosing to stay separate and not engage in conversation (and this appears to be the plan as of the afternoon of Tuesday, July 18), they will be agents of devastating damage.

Separate they fall and bring many down with them. United, they create.

However, to create, to serve the greater good, both sides will have to compromise some of their hard lines.

The GOP health care lesson for the UMC

And therein is the lesson for The United Methodist Church

It is evident now that the two primary doctrinal purity (AKA “we are the true orthodox Christians so no practicing homosexuals allowed”) movements in the UMC, Good News, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association, have driven their stakes down hard. If the Commission on the Way Forward proposes anything that suggests a compromise with the impure (read GLBTQI and their advocates for full inclusion), then they want The United Methodist Church to dissolve.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a radio interview with The Rev. Keith Boyette, President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. It was a complicated time for me as the host, The Rev. Evan McClanahan, pastor of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston, TX, indicated that he strongly agrees with the WCA position.

In other words, the interview was a set-up, a two against one. That would be two men against one woman.

In this interview, Boyette suggested that gays and lesbians are perfectly acceptable if they never “act” on their same-sex impulses. In other words, they are to stay single, unpartnered, alone all their lives. If so, they are both welcome and can be ordained, should that be God’s call upon their lives.

So, if they live with profound unfaithfulness to themselves, if they deny the God-breathed humanity which declares that human aloneness is simply not good, then they can find an open door.

No Companions Allowed

Let’s unpack that one.

I recently spent three weeks in Europe with my wonderful husband. Among other things, we make marvelous traveling companions.

We bring our comfortable, relaxed intimacy, our awareness of our own needs and sensitivity to the needs of others, and our willingness to acknowledge that we each bring strengths and weaknesses, to the adventure.

Although we’ve been married only two years now, our combined maturity and the intense delight we have in each other makes it seem as though we have known each other a lifetime.

We have each found the treasure of a life partner. Sexual expression is important but is the tiniest factor here. What genuinely matters is our love and willingness to accept the other with no changes demanded. Do not be deceived here: we have major differences of opinion on multiple subjects. But we acknowledge that each has reached those opinions by hard work and good thinking.

Obession with other people’s genitalia

The intense love relationship between Jonathan and David
“La Somme le Roy”, 1290 AD; French illuminated ms (detail); British Museum, courtesy Wikipedia Commons

According to Boyette, that kind of deep connection is permissible only to heterosexuals. It must not happen between two people who share the same physical paraphernalia. That position makes me wonder about lots of things including the intense love relationship between David and Jonathan, so beautifully portrayed in the Bible.

As a friend of mine recently put it, “Rational people comfortable with their own sexual identity aren’t obsessed with other people’s genitalia.”

But with the definition of holiness in the UMC hinging totally upon the use of one’s genitalia, perhaps we have passed the point of rationality. Because rational people do not call for an institution, indeed facing many challenges but with a large, worldwide presence and doing so much good for so many, to dissolve because of these genitalia-based differences.

However, since our current POTUS and the GOP leadership are now stating, “We’d rather hurt millions and cause untold suffering than cross the aisle and work out a genuinely helpful solution,” perhaps there is no such thing as rational thinking any longer.

I think of Solomon and the two putative mothers to the one newborn baby. Only one woman was horrified at the thought of dividing her baby–the real one. The other just didn’t care.

Only one was rational: the birth mother. She was willing to sacrifice everything for the life of her baby. But the GOP will sacrifice nothing for the sake of millions of US citizens. And the various factions in the UMC would rather it dissolve than say, “In our love for one another, as both modeled and commanded by Jesus, we will work together for the greater good.”

And here were are. The GOP and the POTUS apparently hope many suffer and die from treatable illnesses so the public will see just how “correct” they are and re-elect them.

And the so-called “orthodox” portion of the UMC doesn’t care about anything but getting their way. As for what is Jesus-like about that, I am unable to say.

But, and I know this is genuinely snarky, I bet most of the “orthodox” Good Newsers and WCA members voted for Trump, an immoral lover of money and power. This man, uncritically endorsed by the religious right (AKA the “orthodox belief folks”) will probably irrevocably taint any vestige left of Christianity in the US.

May God have mercy upon us all.

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  • I’d think that if the same argument – that heterosexuals should, to be absolutely fair to the LGBTQ community, also remain completely single so that there’s no chance for sexual sins in their relationships. They might begin to see it as absurd as it sounds.

  • Guthrum

    Many people are seeing double digit health insurance rate increases. One person’s monthly cost went from $700 to $1200 !
    Some people did lose their doctors. One person who gets cancer treatment locally now faces a six hour drive three times a week to get treatment.
    Young people are not signing up. Many are staying on their parents’ plans. Others just do without.This means less cash going into the health care plan. See “Why Young People Aren’t Signing Up For Health Insurance”. This was to be a major part of the AHA.
    Millions of people can’t afford the insurance costs, yet don’t qualify for a subsidy. Then they get hit by the IRS with a penalty !
    Many on the AHA have a deductible that runs thousands of dollars !
    Doctors complain about the excessive paperwork and regulations that the AHA has put on them.
    Those are the things that need to be changed.
    The insurance companies are leaving the states.

  • Brandon Roberts

    i’m not the biggest fan of obamacare but it’s better than nothing