Archive for May 2016

Methodist Book of Discipline…

I am a member of a Methodist church. On the surface a very welcoming denomination, but below the surface is a book, not the Bible, called the Methodist Book of Discipline.

Every 4 years 800-1000 delegates vote on the language to include in the Discipline at the General Conference. The BIGGEST issue is homosexuality. As it now stands and has virtually since 1972, the Book of Discipline says this:

“The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching…”

What this means in a very real way is if you are homosexual you CANNOT:

Get married in a Methodist church or have your pastor conduct your wedding, even if you are a member (unless you are part of a region that ignores the rules, from the pastor up to the Bishop).

Become a Methodist pastor if you are out of the closet.

Conduct a same sex marriage as a Methodist pastor (you will be fired).

Commit funds to a gay/LGBTQI cause.

—-

I proudly consider myself a straight ally, think same sex attraction is not a sin or a sinful temptation, but like heterosexuality can become sinful if you are taking another’s human right away i.e. rape, pedophilia, coersion, etc…

This is where my beliefs collided with a documentary, a Methodist conservative publication, and varying conservative viewpoints without a clear answer. Many conservatives use 5-8 passages from the Bible to convince themselves of homosexuality’s sinfulness (homosexuality is a term that has only existed since the 1800s, yet is used in Bible’s, which I believe contradicts a conservative ‘Scriptural Christianity’).

On the heels of this years Methodist General Conference, Portland May 10-20, a conservative publication’s Executive Director posted this:

Same Issues, Different Era

With a call to arms:

“We must decide very soon whether we are going to continue expending valuable time, talent, and resources on a debate that is divisive and destructive, or choose to live in faithfulness to Scripture and the historic teachings of the church.”

This ‘faithfulness to Scripture’ echoes the ‘homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching’ rhetoric.

A Rev. from the South commented in agreement with the article referencing one of the 5-8 Bible passages, Galatians 5:19-21:

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

A question was posed:

I am curious. I have heard from other conservative pastors that being homosexual is not a sin. I believe I even read somewhere where Mr. Lambrecht said this.

Does the UMC have a stance on the ‘sin of homosexuality’ or are we to imply it is a sin because it is ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’?

Then a response by Mr. Lambrecht who is VP and GM of the publication:

Thanks for your question, Nate. Being homosexual–that is, having attractions to persons of the same sex–is not a sin, but a temptation. But actually engaging in sexual relations with a person of the same sex is a sin. In other words, it is the behavior that is a sin, not the attraction. We all deal with temptations, which are not sin. But when we give in to the temptations, it does become sin. What we say in our Discipline is that “the PRACTICE of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” In other words, the focus is on behavior. I hope this is helpful.

Truth be told, I was the one who posed the initial question. According to the VP and GM of the publication, homosexuality is not a sin unless acted upon. ‘We all deal with temptations.’ This is where the documentary I watched fundamentally changed how I look at the Bible and those 5-8 passages. I posed another question:

I am struggling with this issue. I just watched a documentary called ‘Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God’ about priests molesting and raping children, specifically a priest named Father Murphy. The content, at times, was very graphic and disturbing.

Rev. above used this biblical reference to make his point about homosexuality:

“Have you ever wondered how people who have received Christ as their Lord and Savior can have such an opposite understanding of what is and isn’t the will of God and the Word of God?…Galatians 5:19-21 tells us, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

My question is where is the homosexual in Galatians 5:19:21 and where is Father Murphy in Galatians 5:19-21?

Then a supporter of the 5-8 passages went to the obvious ‘scriptural christianity’ words and commented that ‘sexual immorality’ is sexual immorality, ‘homosexuality is a sin’ and effectively that Father Murphy molesting boys is the same sin as two same sex people in shared fidelity making love.

What conservative is right?

Homosexuality is not a sin unless acted upon or just being homosexual is a sin?

I had an opportunity to interview LGBT members of our church and listen to people who believe in God, love their church and love Methodism. These are real people hurt by a church that doesn’t fully accept them and they can’t just shut off their faith.

A journalist for Esquire put it best (talking about Ted Cruz, but the analogy is perfect):

“…trotted out as though it were the shining future instead of the dead past.”

Please watch and listen and if a person of faith, reconsider your views on homosexuality: