News posted by

UMs react to resolution proposing change to Discipline’s homosexuality language

UMs react to resolution proposing change to Discipline’s homosexuality language
Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

By Jessica Brodie

As news spread about a resolution at Annual Conference on whether the church should remove language from the United Methodist Book of Discipline about homosexuality being incompatible with Christian teaching, Advocate readers began to react strongly—both for and against the change.

Comments on the Advocate’s website poured in, along with a number of emails—including a statement from pastors of several of the denomination’s largest UMCs in South Carolina (see below).

The resolution, which goes before lay and clergy members of Annual Conference for a vote in June, calls on the South Carolina Conference to petition the 2016 General Conference to remove the sentence found in Para. 161F of the 2012 Book of Discipline that states, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The resolution was signed by more than 100 United Methodist clergy and laity, many of whom are part of Reconciling Ministries of South Carolina, a group that works to help the UMC become more open and inclusive to all people, including all sexual orientations and gender identities. The resolution maintains that Para. 161F has been argued by biblical scholars and theologians to be inaccurate and in conflict with what many Christian educators indeed teach, and that it contradicts Para. 162, which affirms all people as equally valuable in the sight of God.

Much of the reaction received to-date has been in strong opposition to a language change.

In the statement from the large-church pastors (see below), they note, “As we move forward as a denomination, we must continue to value, have compassion for, and be sensitive to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. However, in doing so, we must not ignore scriptural authority or the Christian tradition that has guided us for 2,000 years. Our United Methodist Church has historically held true to this Scripture and tradition, both of which are clear that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. At this crucial point in our history, we must not abandon the Bible’s teachings simply because a minority believes that doing so would promote unity in our denomination.”

On the Advocate’s website, AdvocateSC.org, many engaged in heated debate about the resolution and homosexuality in general on both sides of the spectrum.

On the “vote against changing the Discipline’s homosexuality language,” Eddie Myers asked that if language on homosexuality is changed, then what’s next: gambling and drugs?

“God loves us all, but our church and myself does not condone homosexuality,” Myers wrote.

Likewise, Robbie Hall wrote, “Where will it end? If prostitution becomes legal and popular in our society, are we going to say that’s OK, too? We as a church are supposed to be a voice to stand up for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What happened to teaching, ‘Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’” If we are going to conform to this world’s desires, we are no better than any other cult out there in society.”

As well, Kisa Braselton wrote, “God loves all of his created people and he knows that we are sinners, but the Bible says he detests homosexuality. When you start to pick and choose what you want to believe in the Bible, then you lose the truth. The enemy likes to distort the truth to cause division and to destroy. We have to hold onto Love for everyone because we all fall short and are sinners. Love covers a multitude of sins, but also hold firm to truth and call sin a sin. Do not be deceived! Jesus healed, but he also said, ‘Go and sin no more.’”

On the other side, Janet Isaac wrote that it is “so sad to read these comments. The Book of Discipline contradicts itself just as the Bible does. Homosexuality is not a ‘choice’ or a ‘lifestyle.’ It is the way people were created by God, and I hope that soon Methodists will educate themselves into the 21st century.”

Similarly, Warren Ashmore questioned why “we continue to point to Jewish beliefs (in Leviticus) that are more than 3,000 years old. Yes, they say homosexuality is a sin (according to their world view) BUT they also say that unruly children should be taken out and stoned. Are we ready to go there? Others point to Paul’s letters. Paul approved of slavery and of ‘not allowing women to speak in church.’ How long has it taken us to realize and escape those ‘rules of being a Christian’?”

The Advocate welcomes official letters to the editor on this and other matters going before Annual Conference this June. Letters must be fewer than 350 words and must include a name, church name and city, as well as meet other requirements (see policy, Page Four). The deadline is May 10 for the June paper. Email letters to advocate@umcsc.org.

 

 

Statement from several UMCSC large-church pastors on homosexuality:

At the 2015 South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, a group of clergy and laity will present a resolution for General Conference to remove from our Book of Discipline the statement in ¶161(F) that, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” We, the undersigned, oppose this resolution, which we believe is inconsistent with the Holy Scriptures and the Christian tradition that has guided us for 2,000 years.

The United Methodist Church, throughout its history, has been compassionate to, and inclusionary of, all people. We have adhered to the gospel understanding, recognized in our Book of Discipline, that all persons are important because they are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ. We have implored our members to be sensitive to everyone, as doing otherwise contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we move forward as a denomination, we must continue to value, have compassion for, and be sensitive to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

However, in doing so, we must not ignore Scriptural authority or the Christian tradition that has guided us for 2,000 years. Our United Methodist Church has historically held true to this Scripture and tradition, both of which are clear that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. At this crucial point in our history, we must not abandon the Bible’s teachings simply because a minority believes that doing so would promote unity in our denomination.

Furthermore, it is our sincere belief that the resolution, if passed, would not lead to unity, but would instead further divide our denomination. The resolution would require millions of United Methodists around the world to endorse a practice that is inconsistent with the Scripture and teachings of Jesus Christ. We believe the resolution would harm the vast majority of churches that adhere to the United Methodist Church’s longstanding position on the matter of homosexuality, and would result in many members leaving the denomination, because they would feel that the denomination left them.

For 2,000 years, our mission as Christians has been to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We must not allow the world to transform our Church. In opposing the resolution, we stand behind and affirm the current stance of the United Methodist Church. The current statements in our Book of Discipline concerning homosexual practices are faithful to the Scripture and consistent with the tradition of the Christian Church. Furthermore, our position is not exclusionary. Rather it is compassionate, inviting everyone to a Church believing in the intrinsic worth of all people and accepting each other as sinners who, according to the grace given them, resist sin and seek to live God’s best for their lives.

Signed:

  • Rev. Darren Hook, senior pastor at Covenant UMC, Greer
  • Rev. Linda Guthrie, associate pastor at Covenant UMC, Greer
  • Rev. Jeff Kersey, senior pastor at Mount Horeb UMC
  • Dr. Brian Rainwater, executive pastor at Mount Horeb UMC
  • Dr. Ed McDowell Jr., associate pastor at Mount Horeb UMC
  • Rev. Jody Flowers, lead minister at Chapin UMC, Chapin
  • Dr. George Ashford, pastor at Journey Church, Columbia
  • Dr. Phil Thrailkill, senior pastor, Main Street UMC, Greenwood
  • Rev. Jeff Dunn, senior pastor, Christ UMC, Myrtle Beach

24 Comments

  • What is the language in the discipline regarding divorce and how is it compatible with historic Christian teaching? Christ never mentioned homosexuality, not once, yet spoke passionately about divorce….

    • Thank you, Susan.

    • Amen Susan! Thank you! My wife and I are both appalled at this.

    • [Christ never mentioned homosexuality, not once]

      A familiar argument, but a bit Sophist. Christ DID affirm God’s Creational Genesis construct that marriage is to be between “Male and Female” (and affirmed no other). At the very least that would destroy any argument that Christ would approve of Homosexual marriage. Moreover there are any number of sins that Christ never addressed, but Scripture clearly condemns in multiple passages — and Christ testified of Scripture: “Your [God’s] Word is Truth” (John 17:17).

      Perhaps the reason Christ didn’t address homosexuality is because His earthly ministry was largely to the Jews* (Matthew 15:24; Galatians 4:4-5), and the Jews already considered homosexuality an abomination in the sight of God. In other words, there was no need for Christ to condemn as sinful an activity that His people group already considered an unspeakably** immoral act against God’s created order (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:27). The Jews were not arguing for the normalization of homosexuality and claiming it was not a sin. Hence, there was no need for Jesus to address the subject.
      ______________

      * Although Jesus did interact with Gentiles on a few occasions, He charged His Apostles and followers with carrying His Gospel to the World.

      ** Sometimes the Jews employed euphemisms/Idioms when speaking of particularly egregious and unpleasant sins (such as: “uncovered her/his nakedness” when speaking of incest and other sexual sins). In some passages (Romans 1, for example) you see homosexual acts unambiguously described and severely condemned without mention of the actual term.
      ______________

      So the fact that Christ never mentioned homosexuality, is not an argument that He is ambivalent regarding that sin.

  • So now we are considering compromising the Word…where will it end once begun…we must hold to God’s unchanging words..

  • When satan can’t get us to do his bidding, he seeks to divide us. I pray that we can recognize his wiley ways.

  • The UMC is becoming more and more liberal every year! Therefore if this resolution passes in june,I will withdraw my membership and find a new denomination!! So sad that some leaders find it necessary to change the word of GOD to conform to the sins of mankind!

    • I do not think that anyone is changing the word of God, but I am sure that you have heard of Biblical reasons to stone your disobedient children, to avoid the eating of shellfish (shrimp) and many other awful things. Hopefully you do not go to church for just one of its beliefs. No one is changing the grace and the love of the triune God which is that basis of the United Methodist Church, its beliefs and its members like you and like me. There were those, as I recall, who left the then-called Methodist Church because we were going to merge with black churches and integrate. I still see the remnants of that–a Southern Methodist Church here in Charleston, SC. Oh, and before I forget, Jesus was a liberal…an uber-liberal for the times. I try and follow Him and His teachings every day. Let us all not judge lest…

    • It seems then that they will lose a member either way! This narrow mindedness is disappointing to me.

  • I have been a United Methodist for all of my life ( 68 years) but will leave the denomination if they pass this resolution. This would say that we do not think homosexuality is a sin ” anymore.” I love my church but I love Gid more!

    • Whatever is a sin was washed away with the blood of Jesus the Christ, and continues to be so, for you and for me. I am 67 and like you have been a Methodist (now a United Methodist, of course) for almost from the time that I was 10 years old. It is difficult to know why this is being brought up now, but then again there was a Methodist pastor who was defrocked (but later restored) when he officiated at his SON’S same-sex wedding. He is a man to be admired. Although this current thought of the General Conference changing, starting with the Annual Conferences with the states–if there is enough support—it is not saying that anything is not a sin anymore. We are just being more tolerant and, yes, judging less. If my wife and I were one of the ones to have to vote, I don’t know how we would vote, but I know one thing–we have not left the church, which is the people, and not the structure or the good (and sometimes not so good and sometimes excellent) pastors that are assigned to our church. So, no matter we will worship God and seek his grace and his forgiveness, praying for those who stray from the flock. Peace be to you.

  • Remember, God never changes and neither does His Word. Satan convinced Eve that it was a good idea to eat the fruit by convincing her of a lie and he still does that today. Modern thinking would have us not believe in God at all. Are we going to throw away His teachings just because “the world” believes it?

  • I have been a United Methodist for 83 years and I believe God designed man and woman to unite (we call marriage) to produce other human beings. To me that rules out homosexual unions. As United Methodist our beliefs were formed 2000 years ago.

  • Earnestly praying for each one who signed this statement, that they will be protected from the firey darts of the enemy, spiritual wickedness in high places, and praying for protection for them an their families. We knoe the enemy hates it when there are those who are willing to take a stant. I stand with you.

  • Susan Hardwick, I can think of 3 things off the top of my head that Jesus said that are relevant – “Go and sin no more,” “Marriage is for one man and one woman,” and ” Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up a cross and follow me.” Tell me how an openly homosexual person is following any of these things spoken by Christ. Don’t change the subject to divorce. That is not the debate. You can lead a change in how the church deals with that after we’ve dealt with this. I might back you on that subject.

  • clarify please….are we saying gay persons are not allowed at our church?

  • After reading all more closely I realize gay persons are able to attend.

  • I agree with Susan. If we displaced everyone in the Methodist Church who are divorced we would lose half our membership, including some divorced pastors. I am seventy years old and I remember my Mother would have left the church if we had a divorced pastor. Jesus answered very specifically about divorce in the New Testament. Yet the world has changed and there are so many bigger problems in the world that need our attention…child abuse, domestic violence and the list goes on. Let us love one another and be the United Church we claim to be. Change the wording!

  • Until I read this Advocate article today, I did not understand why one of the signers of the above statement had invited an official of The Confessing Movement to lead two worship services, a Sunday School lesson and a senior gathering last month where the message was against individuals who are LBGT. When I heard this official’s statement that if the Justices of the Supreme Court do not rule against same sex marriage, the Justices do not love God, I was amazed at such an assertion. I just trust that the loving spirit of our Savior will prevail toward all who are God’s creations. Hopefully “open hearts, open minds and open doors” may become a reality and not just a marketing slogan. I trust that the conferees will vote to change the wording of the Book of Discipline.

  • Whatever God calls sin is washed away when the sinner comes to God with a repented heart. Which means the sinner turns away from the sin and turns to God.
    To continue in a lifestyle God clearly calls sin is blasphemy against the Son of God and His redemptive sacrifice on the cross! Leviticus 18:22
    1Cor. 6:9
    We as followers of Jesus and children of God must be the ones to point all people to God and not try to justify continued sin. May we seek to honor God and please Him rather than the world!

  • With the conference percentage vote of 57.6 vs 42.4 and the demographic dynamics including the aging of UMC, it will be only a few years when there will be a change in the BoD. Then truly the doors will open. We seldom consider church history concerning slavery, not allowing women to speak in church much less becoming an integral part of leadership and the shunning of divorced individuals by justifying these positions on “biblical” truths. We would do well to consider the teachings and example of the Christ.

  • I have a question.
    A friend of our family that is gay is going to be married to their partner. They have asked that I come and stand up with them and play a part in the wedding. Should I? They have helped me and my husband very much and never judged our relationship. I don’t think I should judge their relationship as they did not judge mine. But what will God think about it?

  • [On the other side, Janet Isaac wrote that it is “so sad to read these comments. The Book of Discipline contradicts itself just as the Bible does. Homosexuality is not a ‘choice’ or a ‘lifestyle.’ It is the way people were created by God, and I hope that soon Methodists will educate themselves into the 21st century.”]

    1. The Bible clearly states that when God finished His original Creation, He said it was “Good.” Post Adam’s fall, God’s Creation was no longer good, but gained an irrevocable propensity for sin and sinful behavior (Romans 3:23; 3:10-12). God would not call a sexual expression “an abomination,” and say those living in that lifestyle “will not inherit the Kingdom of God,” but create people who were made in such a fashion that they had no choice but to commit that sin. That would be entirely contradictory. It is our fallen/sinful nature that is the root of all immoral actions, and NOT “the way God created us.”

    The propensity for sinful actions/behavior are NOT part of the original Good Creation of God. God did NOT create us that way. If what Janet wrote is true, then ALL sinful behavior could be excused by claiming “that’s [just] the way God made me.”

    2. It is not that “Methodists need to educate themselves into the 21st century” – THAT IS the primary problem — holding the desires of modern society/culture in higher regard than God’s Word. The modern culture has invaded the Methodist (also Episcopal and some Presbyterian and Lutheran) church, and is trying to bend the church to its apostasy. What the Methodists need to do is return to the Millennia of Foundational teaching of Scripture and return to looking upon God’s Word as that which holds ultimate moral authority.

    3, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.” Janet didn’t make this argument but another post did. My response is: “So what?” His Apostles certainly did. Are we to disregard them? Moreover, Jesus DID say that marriage was to be between “Male and Female” (Matthew 19:4-6) and even referenced “The beginning” (God’s Creational – Good — construct for marriage given in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24). Are we to disregard that teaching of Jesus? Moreover, Jesus never mentioned bestiality or incest either. Are we to believe He thought those perversions are perfectly moral because He didn’t mention them? An argument based on the “silence of Jesus” is a weak argument.

    4. Frequently, people seeking to make a case for homosexual behavior/marriage seem very much undiscipled in the Word of God. Passionate, but undiscipled church members can do a lot of damage. And many do not hold the Word of God in high regard (Janet said the Bible contradicts itself, but listed no example). Many appeal to love. But truly loving someone does not express itself by telling them that lifestyles the Bible calls “an abomination” and “will not inherit the Kingdom of God” are perfectly alright. It is not an expression of Godly love to tell someone living in what the Bible unambiguously paints as an egregious sin in the sight of God, that his sin is not sin.

    5. All of this does not mean we shouldn’t love those caught up in sinful lifestyles/behavior. We are all sinners. But at the same time we should not try to excuse or normalize sinful behavior. Christ would love them — but tell them to Repent. And we should follow the example of Christ.

  • [ Max G. Mahaffee, Esq: “I am sure that you have heard of Biblical reasons .. to avoid the eating of shellfish (shrimp) and many other awful things.]

    1. This is a well-worn, but erroneous argument. Neither the words Shellfish or Shrimp appear in the Bible. This is extrapolated from Leviticus 11:10.

    2. This was a “dietary” commandment and not a “moral” commandment.

    3. Moreover, it was part of the behavior code given to the Ancient Hebrew nation to distinguish them from the surrounding Pagan nations — and was never placed upon New Testament Christian believers. Moreover, it was abrogated by Christ Himself in Acts 11:5-10.

    4. The sinfulness and prohibition of homosexual acts are (in Scripture) exceedingly strong, unambiguous, and uniform in both the Old and New Testaments. They were never softened nor set aside, but actually grew stronger (continued homosexual practice is listed in the catalog of sins the Apostle Paul says, “Will not inherit the Kingdom of God”).

    5. It is not “judging” someone to make them aware that they are living in a lifestyle that Scripture categorically and decisively condemns as exceedingly sinful. Done properly, it is an expression of Christian love.

    e.g., If I should say, “You are gay, and you are going to burn in Hell” — that would be incorrectly judging someone; even hatred.
    But if I put it like this: “Brother/friend, are you aware of what Scripture teaches about the lifestyle you are living — and its eternal consequences? Would you like to know?” That would be expressing Christian love.

    I would not be judging the person, but seeking to make him aware of his perilous condition before a Holy God, and hopefully being him to repentance and a changed life. And that would be part of “Going, making disciples, teaching (and hopefully baptizing)” as Commanded by Christ in the Great Commission.

    Again, it is NOT Christian love to affirm someone in their sin(s).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social Media

Epworth Web Ad-330x181

AWS-web-ad-2014

Advocate-coverage-of-AC2017

skilakejunaluska

SMCI

SC-Racial-Awakening-Project